EDITOR'S NOTE: The Mariners aren't the only ones who have to get ready for the playoffs. The fans, too, need to take one game at a time, live up to their potential, and grab the sports cliches by the horn. Take a minute to look into their world, with this Q&A to those in the stands:
Q: How do you fans feel about clinching the division a week early?
A: There was a lot of pressure to cheer the M's on to a division title this year, so, yeah, winning the title was real nice. And a week early! Whew. We got a little worn down there late in the season - with the division race and Junior going after the home-run record and all - so the week off is helping our lungs get back in shape.Q: Your record against Baltimore isn't too good this year: 4-7.
A: Well, we had some struggles in May, no doubt about it. But it's a team effort, and we just gotta go out and give 110 percent. But I like our chances. We got some good fans out there making some good cheers.Q: Any change of plans for the division series?
A: No, pretty much the same thing we've been doing for the past 81 games. Huge greetings for Griffey and teenage squeals for Alex. We'll stand when Randy has the two-strike count and boo when Lou goes to the bullpen. Of course we'll have the guy in the third deck yell "Buuuhhnner!" really loud when Jay steps to the dish. Lots of banners with lots of targets for Griffey and Sorrento - that's a must. I mean, this is what's been successful for us all season long. The last thing we want to do is change our game plan now.Q: I couldn't help notice that some fans are still chanting Edgar as if they're taunting him.
A: We gotta straighten out some fans, no doubt about it. The 1995 season was great, but it brought in a lot of new talent who don't quite know the ropes yet, and who do things like taunt Edgar Martinez unknowingly, and who are a bit slow when chanting "MVP!" for Junior. That's one of the areas where we were weak in the stretch. We've been working on it during the time off.
Q: Any Orioles you fear in the division series?
A: They've got a good club. It's always fun when Baltimore comes to town. Of all of them, I suppose Cal Ripken Jr.'s the guy who always scared me. He's such a popular player that people tend to cheer for him in opposition ballparks - and the Kingdome's no exception. You hate to see that. So I think we're going to really have to go after him this series, really ride him and boo him hard. Make fun of his age and his aching back. Those kinds of things.
Q: Any Baltimore players you look forward to seeing?
A: Roberto Alomar. That spitting incident was a gold mine. People don't forget.
Q: This has been a good season for you personally. You caught two foul balls and three batting practice home runs, drank a lot of beer, appeared on the Diamond Vision screen, won Dan Wilson's jersey during Fan Appreciation Night . . .
A: Those are things you guys keep track of. The way I look at it, I'm just one of 38,000 out there.Q: But don't the accomplishments mean anything to you?A: Listen. I've said it before and I'll say it again. The foul balls and the beers are nice, but I'd trade them all for the T-shirt. The World Series T-shirt. The one that says "Seattle Mariners: World Champions 1997." That's the reason I'm out there stomping my feet and clapping my hands. That's the reason all of us are out there every game stomping our feet and clapping our hands. From day one, that's what we had in mind. The World Series T-shirt. And there's still work to be done.