We know the major-league baseball campaign is approaching when the Seattle Mariners show up in prime time, replete with the season'ês new promo commercials and a glimpse at the probable opening-day line-up.
Such was the case Wednesday (March 17), when, accompanied by a few funny-the-first-time house-ad spots, the M's sported Kelly-green caps to commemorate St. Patrick's Day.
Perhaps apropos of Paddy's Day, the presumed M's starters had four singles and a double; that's hits, not drinks, though a few played like guys who might've been distracted by the merriment of the occasion.
The team lost 8-1 to a Texas contingent that had 11 hits, four of them over the fences. The final scarcely imperils the fortunes for the 2010 M's. But those among the TV audience may have wondered whether expectations have been set too high for a club with six positions to be staffed by players who weren't there on opening day last year.
One of them, supposedly, is Milton Bradley. He was signed to play left. Instead, Bradley went from left field to left off the game board after a third-inning thumbing by a plate umpire who evidently didn't like what Mercurial Milton uttered following a called third strike.
Fans may wonder, then, whether Bradley intends to be the gamer promised when he was acquired from the Cubs. If he's going to let a called strike irk him during a Cactus League non-counter, will a regular-season call send him into Milt-down? Did Seattle get Milton Bradley or Milton Badly?
Then there was the nominal M's closer, David Aardsma. He fanned none, giving up four earned runs on as many hits in the clock-longest two-thirds of an inning in memory.
The televised spectacle, then, may not have prompted a flood of ticket orders, the freshet of fan support expected when showcasing the starting line-up and airing what are intended to be ingratiating commercials. A problem with the latter is that once you've seen them, uh, once they tend to lose at least half their comedic value: "humor half-life," as stand-up physicists might say.
On the other hand, the ennui from the TV spots can easily be assuaged. All that is required is something measurably better than a lackadaisical 8-1 loss to the Rangers.