We’re droughtless here in Seattle!
After missing the MLB playoffs for a record twenty-one straight seasons, the Seattle Mariners swept aside over two decades of misery tonight and began making better new memories by clinching one of the American League’s three wild-card spots in an exhilarating 2–1 walkoff win over the Oakland Athletics that ended when catcher Cal Raleigh hit a home run off the windows of the Hit It Here Cafe.
The victory brought the longest ongoing drought in professional sports to an end in spectacular fashion, sending the very ready sold-out crowd at T‑Mobile Park into a massive, raucous celebration. Mariners players donned October Rise shirts and caps and took a team photo out on the field as the display boards in the parks shimmered with the word “CLINCHED” repeated over and over.
“Congratulations to our Mariners… we are going to the playoffs and watch out, our pitching and defense are excellent and in a short series that’s what you want,” tweeted Mariners legend and Hall of Famer Edgar Martinez, who was on the last Mariners squad to make the playoffs (and tie the MLB record for regular season wins) all the way back in 2001. That was before Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok; back in the days when most homes connected to the Internet over 56K dialup connections and Blockbuster had over 5,000 stores across the country.
Yes, it really and truly has been that long since the Mariners were in the postseason. The last time the M’s qualified, this publication did not exist. Permanent Defense would not be founded for another five months. NPI would not be founded for another two years. The youngest Mariners fans have waited their entire lives for this moment, having not experienced the “Refuse to Lose” era of the mid-1990s with Ken Griffey, Jr., Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, Jay Buhner, Dan “The Man” Wilson, Lou Piniella, and of course, Edgar… or even the incredible 116-win season with Ichiro, Bret Boone, John Olerud, and many more.
Back in June, when the team was finding it difficult to win early in the season, few saw the Mariners ending their drought this year. Oddsmakers rated the team’s chances of making the playoffs in the single digits.
But the team battled on, led by young star (and Rookie of the Year!) Julio Rodriguez. New arrivals like Robbie Ray, Eugenio Suarez, Luis Castillo, and Carlos Santana — some acquired through midseason trades — made crucially important contributions. (Rodriguez and Castillo are here to stay for awhile, having both signed multiyear deals with General Manager Jerry Dipoto.)
Before the All-Star Break, the Mariners found their groove, putting together a fourteen game win streak that helped vault them into contention for a wild card spot. In the second half of the season, they avoided a late August collapse, putting together quality wins against teams like the Atlanta Braves and the Cleveland Guardians. They didn’t win every series, of course, but they stayed above .500 and remained competitive with the league’s other top wild card contenders, the Toronto Blue Jays and the Tampa Bay Rays.
Victory cigar in hand, Manager Scott Servais addressed Mariners fans from the field at T‑Mobile Park after the win, declaring that the team was only just getting started and urging fans to relish a very, very special moment in team history.
My oh my. Wherever Dave Niehaus is right now, he is reveling in the magic that this team has created. The perseverance and resilience of these Mariners are a great gift to the City of Seattle and the Pacific Northwest in trying times.
Go M’s! Just a few games left in the regular season and then on to the playoffs!