The entire Mariners season will be decided in the opening series against the Oakland A's.
No need to wait until Memorial Day, July 4, the trading deadline, Labor Day or any other traditional seasonal milestones for measuring progress.
All are irrelevant in 2007.
Three games. Three days. Four possible outcomes.
If the Mariners sweep the A's -- Mariners go to the World Series.
If the Mariners win the series 2-1 -- A contending team with a real shot at the division title.
If the Mariners lose the series 1-2 -- Gather into the basement the elderly, the children and bring some bannock and hardtack.
If the A's sweep the Mariners -- The cataclysm, as predicted in the movie "Ghostbusters":
"Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies. Rivers and seas boiling. Forty years of darkness. Earthquakes, volcanoes, the dead rising from the grave. Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together -- mass hysteria."
Hopefully, when Thursday morning rolls around, the skies will be clear, the seas will be calm, the day will be bright, the ground will be stable (as will the dead), my dog will still be a bachelor, and the only hysterical person will be one P-I columnist. If not, perhaps a couple dozen ballplayers in the Emerald City will be the first human sacrifices.
The first game of the season starts in a few moments. Play ball!
UPDATE: Game one of the 2007 season is in the books and it's a very satisfying Mariners victory. Now we can all relax, secure in the knowledge that the worst that can happen to us this week is that you'll have to spend some quality time in the basement with your elderly and children. For those of us without basements, nearby elderly, or more than one child, the prospects for the week are, of course, somewhat brighter.