July 3, 2008 · Updated 12:57 PM
"As I write this, the Mariners are playing the Chicago White Sox in the first game of the Major League Baseball playoffs. The television is on in the News-Times conference room, and I'm doing my best to stay focused on writing this column and getting a paper out.Mariners 0, Chicago 0, bottom of the third.That the Seattle Mariners are even in the playoffs this year is a huge satisfaction to me. These are the Ken Griffeyless Mariners. The Randy Johnsonless Mariners. The team that was supposed to be rattling around inside a half billion dollar luxury stadium, unable to win, the fans already gone because the superstars wanted out of Seattle.Ken Griffey is home in Orlando. His new team, the Cincinnatti Reds, never seriously contended this year. Randy Johnson is home in Arizona. His new team, the Diamondbacks, fizzled in the second half. Maybe they're both watching the Mariners on TV right now.Mariners 0, Chicago 0, top of the fourth.In the 24-year history of the franchise, this is only the third time Seattle has ever made it to the playoffs. I know the losing history personally. In the Mariners' first season in 1977, I went to 14 games. Left field seats cost $1.50. I saw Reggie Jackson, Lou Piniella and the New York Yankees kick the tar out of my beloved expansion team. I watched five members of the Boston Red Sox - Fred Lynn, Jim Rice, Carlton Fisk, Carl Yazstremski and Dwight Evans - hit home runs off Mariner pitching in a game.Those day are long gone. The Mariners are winners now.Mariners 0, Chicago 0, top of the fifth.Give Ken Griffey and Randy Johnson credit for helping turn the tide of Seattle's mediocrity. They were huge contributors to the Mariner playoff runs of 1995 and 1997. But their expanding egos and thin skins turned the last couple Seattle seasons sour. Johnson left after the 1998 season, Junior after 1999.This season the Mariners still have a superstar in Alex Rodriguez. But they also have a camaraderie and work ethic that they lacked in recent years, when an angry Johnson complained about his salary, and a morose Griffey stopped running out ground balls.These Mariners play hard. These Mariners stand up for each other. When these players lose, as they did frequently in August, no one points fingers. They stay positive. They pull for each other.Mariners 0, Chicago 0, bottom of the seventh.It's the most basic lesson of sports, one so often lost in an era of super duper stars and $20 million dollar individual contracts: Teamwork prevails. A group of people working shoulder to shoulder for a common goal stands an excellent chance of success. A group of people pulling for each other, supporting each other and caring for each other is one of the most powerful ways to express the human spirit.Final: Mariners 0, Chicago 0.There's a positive feeling around this Seattle team. They're about We, not Me. Win or lose, that's something I can root for. "