Sunday night I watched one of my favorite movies, “The Natural,” the redemptive tale of an early 20th century baseball player whose promising career goes astray until he hires on with a sad sack major league team and carries them to a pennant on the strength of his bat.

Robert Redford’s stadium-light-shattering walk-off homer is the film’s big climax and, of course, it reminded me of Cal Raleigh’s similarly epic, bottom-of-the-ninth home run Friday night; a shot for the ages that has sent the Mariners into the playoffs for the first time in 21 years.

The Mariners have never been as dismally bad as the fictitious New York Knights in the film, but, for too many seasons, they have been exemplars of mediocrity; not utterly terrible, but, other than during a glorious season or two in the mid-1990s, not contenders.

The Sonics brought an NBA championship to our town before being stolen away to Oklahoma City. The Storm is always at the top of women’s basketball. The Sounders, in their various configurations, have been perpetual league leaders and frequent champions on the soccer pitch. The Seahawks have won the Super Bowl and are usually not unrealistic prospects for another. The Mariners? They have been in Seattle for decades, but have not brought home a pennant, let alone a World Series trophy.

In baseball, though, hope springs eternal. As in “The Natural,” there is always the possibility that lightning can strike, and a bunch of bums can become legends. The Mariners of 2022 are far more than bums. They are an exciting team and hopes are high.

Could this be the October when lightning strikes?

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