The Mariners are off to a promising 2-1 start, but it takes more than a few victories to captivate a city. Are these players likeable enough to keep us invested?

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Well, that was fun, wasn’t it?

The Mariners’ offensive eruptions in the eighth inning Tuesday and the ninth inning Wednesday capped a couple of Seattle victories in Arlington, Texas, that were gripping and highly entertaining.

You haven’t been able to say that too often about the Mariners, have you? And as a new home season starts Friday night at Safeco Field against Oakland, that would be my No. 1 wish for this team, and this franchise: Let’s hope they can make baseball fun again.

It’s a sport I love completely, for all its nuances and history and athleticism and statistics and strategies. But I fully acknowledge that there are times, often in the dog days of a lost-cause season (which arrive in May some years in Seattle) when baseball can be excruciating.

There’s hope that this year’s version of the Mariners can keep it interesting all season.

We’ve had stretches before over the years that hooked you in, sometimes even for most of the season. But even those proved temporary.

The Mariners, unbelievably, have not had back-to-back winning seasons since 2002 and 2003. That helps explain why annual attendance has dropped by roughly 1.5 million since Seattle’s heyday.

Which got me thinking: What is it that comprises fun, compelling baseball?

Obviously, it starts with winning. Not every day, because even the 116-win Mariners of 2001 lost 46 times. But enough to give meaning and context to games throughout the season; 162 outings are far too many to savor when your team is hopelessly out of contention.

But there’s even more to it than that. Fans want to see teams play fundamentally sound, aggressive baseball. And they want to see the players they shell out hard-earned cash to watch have the same passion they do. And that a team has a cohesiveness and bond that makes them more than just 25 hired guns who happen to wear the same laundry.

Which brings us to what I think is the most elusive yet important quality of a team worthy of a six-month emotional investment — the secret sauce for fun baseball, if you will.

Call it the charisma index, or the likability factor. You have to a have a bunch of distinct personalities that make it pleasurable to drop into their lives for three hours a night.

Just look at the Seahawks, who are a classic example of this phenomenon. Sure, getting to two Super Bowls in a row will grab your attention. But strong personalities like Richard Sherman, Marshawn Lynch, Doug Baldwin and Michael Bennett, and a human-interest story like Russell Wilson’s, kept people invested.

The Mariners had all that in buckets, too.

Their breakthrough 1995 team, led by Ken Griffey Jr., Randy Johnson, Jay Buhner and Edgar Martinez, with Joey Cora as everyone’s favorite, was almost impossible to look away from. And it segued into another intriguing group with crowd favorites like Bret Boone, Mike Cameron, Jamie Moyer and Freddie Garcia — and the revelation that was Ichiro.

There’s a reason the Mariners led the majors in attendance in 2001 and 2002, at 3.5 million, beyond the appeal of a new stadium. Those teams made you care about them and like them.

So do these Mariners have the elusive “it” factor? I’m not going to say that after three games. But that series against the Texas Rangers showed at least the potential for many of those qualities. The fire the ballclub, and its new manager, Scott Servais, showed after Chris Iannetta was hit by a pitch Tuesday is the sort of thing that fans love to see. So were the clutch hits, and the barrage of long balls — nine home runs in three games in Texas.

It won’t last, but after three games, the Mariners led the entire majors with a .961 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage). Nothing numbs the brain to baseball quite like the utterly tepid (or downright inept) offense that has marked far too many recent Mariners squads. This lineup looks deeper and potentially more potent than they’ve had in a while.

Do they have the personalities to capture this town again? Winning tends to accelerate that process, so we’ll see how that goes. Felix Hernandez long ago showed that he has charisma, and oozes likability. Robinson Cano, when he’s hitting like he did in Texas, automatically becomes more appealing (funny how that works), but I think he’s got the smile and personality to win folks over. So do Kyle Seager and Nelson Cruz, in their quiet, understated way.

Many of the new players — Iannetta, Wade Miley, Adam Lind come quickly to mind — seem like the strong, silent types. But sometimes players start that way with a new team until they get comfortable, and then their real personality emerges.

For many folks, the casual fans, opening day and the home opener are the only time they pay heed to the Mariners all season. Their job this year is to grab people’s interest all year, and make it fun to care about the local baseball team again.