For the sellout crowd of 45,661, amid the smoke and fireworks at the Mariners home opener, Tuesday’s 5-3 victory over the Los Angeles Angels — powered by two home runs from M’s newcomer Corey Hart — was certainly a step in the right direction.
But in projecting what the Mariners’ early position atop the American League West may mean for the entire season, you can be either a Hudson Gratton or a Don Pierson.
“They are going to make the playoffs. I know that,” said Gratton, 18, of Lynden, who arrived more than two hours before the game in the $100 Robinson Cano jersey he bought shortly after the Mariners landed their new second baseman.
He sees Cano as a catalyst: “Anytime you can bring in someone who has had some success, that’s going to help,” said Gratton. “And he can hit the crap out of the ball.”
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But Pierson, 70, a season-ticket holder since 2000, said before the game, “I’m not making any conclusions this early in the season, because we’ve heard it all before.”
All we learned in the Mariners’ 4-2 road trip last week, Pierson said, is that the Mariners won a series in Anaheim and lost a series in Oakland. “We can only play Anaheim so many times. We won’t really know much until we get into some other teams,” said Pierson, of Tukwila.
What we do know is that the Mariners are 5-2, with another game Wednesday against these Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Over their history, the Mariners are now 23-15 in their home openers.
The game’s significance may lie in more than its effect on the standings. No doubt, many in Tuesday’s sellout crowd have yet to decide how many games they’ll attend this year, and a win is bound to offer a bit of encouragement.
The spectacle of the event — with Pete Carroll, Russell Wilson and a contingent of other Seattle Seahawks marching across the baseball diamond to give Mariners fans a look at real champions — is not the occasion to think about the Mariners’ 71-91 record from last year.
Nor is it the time to be reminded that the Mariners’ last winning season was in 2009, or that their last postseason appearance was in 2001.
This is the time to look at the possibilities, not the perils.
“I like what we saw on the road. Let’s see if they can keep it up,” said Riley Shapansky, 22, of Centralia, bringing his son, Hunter, who turns 4 later this week, to his first Mariners game.
Chris McNeil, 29, of Kent, said this M’s team could be moving in a new direction. “I’m a big fan of Lloyd McClendon. He has the players more disciplined at the plate, and the guys seem to be more united.”
Erin Howe, 32, came from Aberdeen in a retro Mariners jersey (with the inverted trident) that she bought last week. She said the Mariners’ road trip “was fun to watch. I think it’s going to be a good year. They’ve got a lot of young talent that can really help out.”
The home opener was a bittersweet occasion for Sarah Hudkins, 36, of Kirkland, arriving early with her sons Trenton, 20, and Gavin, 11. She wore a Mariners jersey that belonged to her mother, a dedicated fan who died just two weeks ago. The family also recently lost a close friend who was a baseball fan.
“We shed some tears this morning,” Hudkins said. “But right now, we’re exactly where we need to be.”
Travis Hagel, 22, of Puyallup, showed up in a Mariners jacket over a Seahawks jersey, as if some good fortune might pass from one logo to the other. “I have a closet full of Seahawks gear. Now I need to get some Mariners stuff.”
He’d love to see the Mariners in the World Series, but his expectations are more modest. “I’m hoping for a .500 year,” he said.
Jack Broom: firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-464-2222