Tonight is a reminder about how long one month really is in the sports world. And we don’t need to look any further than the Mariners and the Sounders FC.
Just check out the standings from exactly one month ago: The M’s were 24 games over 500. They were just a game and a half out of first place in the AL West and solidly entrenched in a playoff spot with a 7.5 game lead over Oakland for the final Wild Card.
Now? The M’s are 6.5 games behind Houston in the divisional race and even 2.5 games out of the final playoff spot.
No one questioned the Jerry Dipoto extension 30 days ago. Now? Well, the trade deadline came and went, and last I checked, Cameron Maybin isn’t a starting pitcher.
Meanwhile, exactly one month ago, the Sounders were struggling to stay out of last place. They’d won just four matches all season. Some were questioning the future of Sounders general manager Garth Lagerwey, and the playoffs seemed like a fantasy.
Since then, Seattle hasn’t lost a match. They’ve won four in a row, including last night’s miracle finish, and they’re a manageable five points out of the playoffs with a game in-hand.
In just 30 days, all of that optimism has shifted from one fan base to the other. But it’s important to remind everyone that right now, both franchises are basically in the same position: On the outside looking in – with an incredibly difficult month ahead.
Between now and September 5, the Mariners play 19 of their next 28 games away from home, and face Houston and Oakland a total of 14 times. Either turn it back on, or they’ll be spending the final month of the year as an afterthought once again.
And between now and September 5, all four Sounders matches are against teams sitting in playoff position, including first-place Dallas and second-place Portland. It’s a stretch that could make-or-break Seattle’s current streak of nine straight postseason appearances.
I understand that the historical successes and failures of these two franchises will help steer the narrative: That the Mariners will likely blow it, and that the Sounders have a better chance of going all the way.
But right now, don’t the door on either. The M’s have gotten this far, and days like today remind us that they can actually score runs and that Robinson Cano could rejoin the team in less than ten days. No one expected the M’s to be this close at the start of the year, so why give up on them now?
And improbable Sounders wins like last night – where they scored two goals in stoppage time to come back and win on the road – keep me believing that lightning CAN strike twice. That there’s no giving up on the Sounders franchise, despite as bleak as it seems.
All I know is, on September 5, we’ll be gearing up for the Seahawks regular season opener in Denver, we’ll be recapping the Huskies opener against Auburn and the Cougs opener at Wyoming, and there’s a chance we’ll also be previewing Game One of the WNBA Finals at KeyArena for the Seattle Storm.
Will the Mariners or Sounders still be relevant enough to remain a part of the conversation? A lot can happen between now and then, and I’m hopeful for both – and excited to find out.