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Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.

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April 7, 2008 8:40 AM

Monday musings

Posted by Geoff Baker

You know, as bad as the Mariners have looked at times this first week, things could be far worse. The Angels are not exactly setting the world on fire. A win this afternoon and the M's will be a game out of first place. As I said, this is not the time to panic. And no, to answer the reader question in the comments thread of the prior post, getting swept by the Rays will not amount to panic time either. A lot can happen between now and May, never mind now and season's end.

I liked the theory one reader put forth about this being a bad time for good teams to play expected cellar dwellers. Just ask the Angels about that after they dropped a series to Texas on the weekend. Or ask the Detroit Tigers how it felt to have their lunch handed to them by the Kansas City Royals and Chicago White Sox. Neither of those two other clubs was expected to do anything this season.

Perhaps the Boston Red Sox can explain what it feels like to get swept by division-rival Toronto. A 3-4 showing was not what the defending champs wanted after week number one. Toronto is a trendy pick this year and I do have them ahead of the New York Yankees. But not the Bosox.

And how about last season's other World Series darlings, the Colorado Rockies? Remember them? Poster children -- literally -- for how fine young talent trumps veteran leadership every time? Well, they are off to a 1-5 start. Nobody's burying them yet, but they are hardly fulfilling expectations. Things could be much worse for the Mariners.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not excusing their play.

But this kind of stuff is not unusual in early April. As I mentioned, it is not implausible for teams expected to be horrible to find a prize or two this early. Sort of like the guy who sprints out ahead of the pack in the first mile of a marathon. Anyone can do it. Not everyone can run miles at a 4:30 pace after that and actually win the marathon. That's a bit of what baseball is about. The contending teams are the ones that stay close until September and then have enough left for a finishing kick.

Safe to say, the Royals, White Sox and Orioles are unlikely to be among those clubs. And not even by September. They should all be out of it by June.

So, sit back, get some work done and let's see if the M's can stay within a game of the Angels by the end of the day.

The sky is a long way from falling. Even if some of you are preparing to drop out of it.

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