Lou Piniella Would Be Perfect Skipper For the Cincy-eattle Mariners
As the Mariners prepare to snap the dubious streak that has deviled them for twenty years, they will have rooting for them a whole bunch of fans far outside of Seattle. Three thousand miles east of Lake Washington lies Mt. Washington, a Cincinnati suburb where many folks will be rooting for the Mariners during the 2022 playoffs.
Almost a quarter of the Mariners lineup is comprised of former Reds, as well as the ace of the rotation. All of those players, so recently beloved by Reds fans, will have plenty of people in Southwestern Ohio pulling for the team that could be the Cincy-eattle Mariners.
Back toward the end of Spring Training, the rebuilding Reds traded All-Star third baseman Eugenio Suarez and outfielder Jesse Winker to the Mariners for Justin Dunn and Jake Fraley. Both ex-Reds began to pay immediate dividends for the Seattle offense, Suarez slugging 31 home runs with 84 RBI and Winker leading the team with a .343 on base percentage.
Then at the trade deadline at the end of July, Cincinnati shipped pitching ace Luis Castillo to anchor the Seattle starting rotation. Castillo has since given the Mariners starts, his earned run average being second best in the rotation behind veteran left hander Robbie Ray.
Many folks believe the good feelings between Cincy and Seattle began over twenty years ago, when the Mariners dealt Most Valuable Player and future Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. to the Reds to play for his hometown team. Fans were hoping that Junior would bring the Reds a World Series Championship and perhaps become the new career home run king, but injuries prevented the star outfielder from accomplishing either of those goals.
Actually, you might have to go back to the early Nineties to find the first sign of Cincy-eattle, a deal that few people in baseball noticed at the time. The Mariners were in need of a catcher, so they contacted the Reds about Dan Wilson.
Seattle definitely benefited from the 1994 deal, for Wilson became a key element for a team that would go on to win 120 games in 2003. Nor did the Reds have anything to complain about, for the guy they received for Wilson became an All-Star and fan favorite in Cincinnati.
That player was none other than Bret Boone, the second baseman who made a perfect double play partner for shortstop Barry Larkin. Bolstered by Boone, whose .320 batting average led all hitters except for Kevin Mitchell, Cincinnati won the National West Championship before the work stoppage canceled the postseason.
Boone would return to the Mariners and put up MVP like numbers, but his family members would arrive in Cincinnati shortly after. Younger brother Aaron would become the regular third baseman for many seasons, a tenure often overlooked by the historic game seven walk-off home run he smashed to win the 2003 American League Championship against the Boston Red Sox.
Bret and Aaron's father Bob would manage the Reds in 2001, filling a role that had been unstable since Lou Piniella had been dismissed years before. Piniella of course would serve as just one more connection between the two cities, for he quickly took over the helm of the Mariners as soon as he left the Queen City.
Neither of the Boone brothers or their father will be in Cincy-eattle's dugout during the playoffs, but fans might spot one of the trio calling the shots for the opponent. The Mariners, should they advance in the first round of the LACS, could find themselves facing the New York Yankees and their manager Aaron Boone.