Two existing MLB teams have never been to a World Series. One is Washington, the other is Seattle. Poor Expos fans! The closest they ever got, with Moises Alou, Larry Walker, and Pedro Martinez, that season was cancelled due to a strike. (And then later Jeff Loria Of The Flies stole their squad.)
I know many Twins fans feel bummed because the team is headed for its worst-ever season. And hasn’t won a playoff game since 2004. Well, the Mariners haven’t been in the postseason since 2001. From then through last year, they’ve finished, on average, 19 games out of first. In their division. Which had four teams until Houston joined in 2013.
Wish the Twins had kept Johan, kept Torii? In 1998, Seattle was forced to trade Randy friggin’ Johnson. The next year, Ken goddamn Griffey. In 2000, Alex motherbleeping Rodriguez fled for Texas and what was, then, the biggest contract ever for an athlete.
Devastating, huh? Two no-doubt Hall Of Famers, and A-Rod, who will only miss election if steroids turd on his reputation enough. (He didn’t undergo a total Bruce Banner/Hulk transformation like Bonds.)
So that sent Seattle into a death spiral. Oh, wait, it didn’t. They signed Ichiro WHATTHESHIT Suzuki and won 116 games. Tying the MLB record. (Which the Cubs set in 1906, with 10 fewer games played, but still, best record since MLB went to 162 in 1962.)
Hated all those years where New York nuked Minnesota in the playoffs? Guess who bounced Seattle in their 116-win year? The Yanquis, 4-1, it wasn’t close. BTW: of ten teams in MLB history with the most regular-season wins, only one didn’t reach the World Series.
In June, ten years ago, baseball fans in Minnesota and the Pacific Northwest got treated to a fine example of Pure Hype: which phenom pitcher would prevail? Rookie Francisco Liriano, or second-year Felix Hernandez? (Hernandez did.)
Two months later, Liriano would blow out his arm (only genetic freaks like Johnson can throw sliders that hard for long), and never be the same. Hernandez would win a Cy Young, make seven straight All-Star teams, and compile a 3.04 ERA. He’s never pitched less than 30 games in a season. And never smelled even a wild-card play-in game.
Maybe that will change this year (as of this typing, Seattle is two games out of the wild card, chasing Toronto, Baltimore, and Detroit — thanks, Twins — with eight games remaining). I sure don’t know enough about their front office to say why they’ve had such terrific talent and such an inability to build around it. (Like any of us know anything about any front office, really.)
If it doesn’t change, it’ll continue the longest current streak of playoff blueballs going in MLB. And, heck, Washington has a shot to make the Series. Mariners fans, you deserve better.
Some other random Mariners ramblings:
They have a beautiful ballpark. It’s my favorite that I’ve seen. I understand why people love San Francisco’s, it looks out over the Bay. And the Bay is pretty. It’s also too cheerful for me.
The Bay looks like a place to go boating. Puget Sound looks like a watery grave full of krakens and ichthyosaurs. San Francisco’s skyline suggests sunshine and optimism and dreams. The skyline highlights from Safeco suggest killer volcanoes (Mt. Rainier is dormant, not extinct) and places where Gollum lives.
Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains doubled for Siberia in Hunt For Red October. Glum and grim is my comfort zone AND YOU CAN'T MAKE ME CHANGE
Seattle’s mascot is a moose. There are no moose around Seattle, most live far to the east. Their mascot should have been a salmon or something. Grizzled drunken ship captain. Moose, I think, comes from the television show Northern Exposure, which was shot nearby, and that town still looks like it did in the show.
Before the Mariners, Seattle had an expansion team in 1969, the same year Montreal started theirs. It was called the Seattle Pilots. You need a harbor pilot to guide big ships safely into port, and Seattle has a big airplane manufacturer headquarters, so "Pilots" neatly covered both industries. (Their old logo was a baseball, ship’s helm wheel, and wings. It’s cute!)
Unfortunately, the Pilots played in a building so inadequate there was no place for photographers to set up their equipment; they had to stand on the roof. (And it’s a precarious spot!) So the Pilots moved to Milwaukee; the Mariners wouldn’t be borned until 1977. Cool thing about the old stadium, though; a teenage Jimi Hendrix saw Elvis Presley in concert there.
Finally, when we speak of run-down ballparks, Washington State, and celebrities, we need to mention this BBRef page. An independent team, the Grays Harbor Ports, gave a few at bats to one William Murray in 1976. Who’s William Murray? Well, you know Saints co-owner Bill.
Catch ya later for the game!