Not long ago, say about the time teams were reporting to spring training and the national media hadn't seen anyone take the field but still had to write about baseball, the Seattle Mariners emerged as serious contenders.
Now, with 25-man rosters still uncertain in each of the 30 big-league camps, the Mariners are being seen in another light, in another role.
In-between, what's happened? Well, Cliff Lee is down with an abdominal strain and if you wandered into camp today, you might become a candidate for the fifth spot in Seattle's rotation.
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Jose Lopez, who wasn't very good at second base, is now a third baseman. He won't be very good there, either. And the same lack of power the team had, say, Feb. 16, it has today.
So what has changed?
Well, the Mariners have looked mortal all spring - not surprising, given the number of players they've used and pitchers they've let work. And beyond Felix Hernandez, without Lee, a rotation of Ryan Rowland-Smith, Ian Snell, Jason Vargas and ... and ...
Well, the rotation looks underwhelming to some.
In short, the media - from writers to talk show hosts to bloggers - have looked at Seattle through both ends of the same telescope now. It's like saying David Aardsma emerged as a closer last season, then having another voice say Aardsma was a fluke.
Bottom line: the issues the Mariners had coming in still exist. Will Ken GriffeyJr. hit? Will Milton Bradley produce? Can someone - anyone? - hit 25 home runs for this team?
Can Rowland-Smith become a solid, 180-innings or more starting pitcher? Will rookie Adam Moore hit - and handle a big-league pitching staff? Are the Mariners deep enough to sustain themselves through injuries?
The answers never come in camp. If Griffey was hitting .400 in the Cactus League, would anyone honestly think that would carry over into the regular season? If Lopez hadn't bobbled a ball at third base, would anyone suggest the Mariners won't miss Adrian Belre's glove?
The Angels remain American League West favorites, if for no reason other than their being the defending champions. Seattle and Texas both believe they can make a race of it all season.
Bet on this: No one in the media is going to impact the outcome more than the players on those three teams. And none of those teams could say with certainty today how they'll look on May 15 or June 29 or August 1.