It's Easter Sunday, and the Seattle Mariners are in first place.
No, it doesn't particularly mean much, but it's something they couldn't say on any day of the 2008 season. And perhaps the most surprising aspect of it is how they got there, one week into the new year.
The bullpen has two wins, the rotation two.
Jose Lopez leads the team with six RBI, and Russell Branyan has two home runs, and while those are solid enough numbers, they don't tell the story of a week in which the Mariners did things they simply couldn't a year ago.
These Mariners have twice come back from deficits to win – not first inning deficits, but late-in-the game comebacks. They manufacture runs with bunts and ground balls – players giving themselves up to advance runners, to score runners.
The atmosphere is different, the attitude altered. They believe they can win games doing what they're doing, and think they'll surprise anyone who underestimates them.
"The kind of baseball we're playing wins games against anyone," Felix Hernandez said. "It's just good, exciting baseball."
Even if it were just for a week, that would be improvement.
But consider the American League West for a moment. On Saturday, Oakland couldn't use Eric Chavez – not even as a late defensive replacement – because his shoulder is a mess. Across the diamond, first baseman Jason Giambi asked out late in the game because he said his legs were gone.
Want to trade Seattle's immediate future or Oakland's?
One week into the season, the Texas Rangers have a 6.49 earned run average. Seattle's is 3.42. Want to trade pitching staffs?
And in Anaheim, the Angels have most of their rotation on the disabled and suffered a loss in the first week that went far beyond scores and standings. They remain, even in mourning, the best team in the West.
Except at the moment.
The Mariners are not the team they'll be in a year, when players like Miguel Batista, Jarrod Washburn, Adrian Beltre, Eric Bedard – and their salaries – will be gone.
They aren't the team they may become this season, when pitchers like Chad Cordero or Tyler Johnson come off the disabled list.
Or when Ichiro Suzuki returns.
What they are, at this moment, is a team that believes it can win. Yes, that faith may be fragile, and reality may overwhelm it – but the job Don Wakamatsu and his coaching staff has done this spring, and this week, has transformed the Mariners.
One week in, that's encouraging.