Game 156, Athletics at Mariners – Good Riddance

marc w · September 30, 2022 at 5:40 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Logan Gilbert vs. Ken Waldichuk, 6:40pm

The Mariners ignominious playoff drought – famously the longest in North American pro sports – is about to end. Either with a win tonight, or with a Baltimore loss, the M’s will sew up a wild card position and make the playoffs for the first time since 2001. The M’s win last night opened the floodgates as M’s fans finally gave in and acknowledged that no, the M’s can’t screw this up. The millstone around our collective neck is gone. The streak is over.

This outpouring of emotion is something to see, and it makes sense. I was a young man when the M’s were last in the playoffs. I’d gone in 2000, didn’t get tickets in 2001, but thought it didn’t much matter – they’d be in the playoffs pretty much every year for the next 5-7, right? It’s been amazing to watch what’s befallen this team these past two decades, and it’s been a very strange role to essentially catalog and diagnose the myriad ways they’ve failed. For so many fans, this is just a joyous time – a casting off of all of that negativity, the jokes about futility, the repetitive and yet distinct ways each team from 2002-2021 fell short. I realize that for me, and this is maybe not the right time to express it, I don’t feel much of anything. I’m not NOT happy about it; I don’t think this is literal anhedonia, though I think I’ve been informally diagnosed with that by readers over the years. Rather, the streak really has broken my brain.

I’m not trying to minimize it due to playoff expansion or what have you. I’m not trying to argue that the real work is doing what they’ve said the ultimate goal is: a true competitor for the AL West and a World Series, year in and year out. I’m not trying to minimize it because we might not get a home playoff game. Or rather, those are components, but not the main issue. The main issue is that after 20 years of learning in a million ways that We Don’t Get Nice Things, after finally getting a certifiably nice thing, my gut instinct is to go, “Well if you’re giving it to me, how nice can it be?” Maybe some of this is due to the M’s ungraceful belly flop into the post season, coupled with a well-timed Baltimore losing streak. But I really don’t think I’d feel any differently if Logan Gilbert throws a no-hitter to clinch it. (But Logan Gilbert should absolutely endeavor to throw a no-hitter to clinch it).

The thing that I’m finding most remarkable has been the way the players have taken it upon themselves not to wave away the streak, but to highlight it and take it straight on. Mitch Haniger’s open letter to M’s fans a year ago is the best example, but it keeps coming up. Shannon Drayer got this great quote from Haniger yesterday, and Ryan Divish’s gamer – which you should read right now if you haven’t – is all about this phenomenon:

“Put simply, the Mariners are one win or one Baltimore loss away from ending a postseason drought that they begrudgingly inherited, tried to ignore, rationalized their responsibility in it and finally understood it was their burden to carry”

I have thought about what I would write when the M’s clinch the playoffs for, what, 10? 12? 13? years now. The streak has eaten careers like King Felix’s and Kyle Seager’s whole. Ichiro from 2002-2012. The false dawns, the can’t misses who missed. You can’t really dig into that day after day and year after year without having it reorder some neural wiring. All fandom does some of that, but this fanbase has endured so much. It has always felt doomed, and so we told ourselves there was nobility and strength in that. But why? Why do we have to fail so much just for telling ourselves it was weirder and cooler? Why did it take 21 years and the last vestiges of my amygdala to get here? The M’s are back in the playoffs, and I am confused.

Seriously, while I can’t quite summon relief or overwhelming joy right now, I think I probably can in the fullness of time. So I’m not going to think of this as an end, but as a beginning. The M’s job is NOT done, as happy as I am for the players who CHOSE to put this weight on their shoulders and are justified in whooping it up as they throw it off tonight. But the front office’s job has been and remains to build a team that is the best or one of the best in the AL, a team that has playoff expectations year after year. I can honestly say that this really does feel like the early stages of THAT team, THAT behemoth, being born. Julio has been better than we could’ve dreamed of, and the young starters showed no signs of the developmental aches and pains that held back Justus Sheffield or Yusei Kikuchi. Celebrate tonight, and let’s keep it going.

1: Moore, 2B
2: France, 1B
3: Suarez, 3B
4: Haniger, RF
5: Santana, DH
6: Torrens, C
7: Kelenic, CF
8: Haggerty, LF
9: Crawford, SS
SP: Gilbert

Gilbert’s gone and tweaked his slider again.


11 Responses to “Game 156, Athletics at Mariners – Good Riddance”

  1. Westside guy on September 30th, 2022 9:32 pm

    WOO HOO!!!

  2. pdome01 on September 30th, 2022 9:58 pm


  3. henryv on September 30th, 2022 10:13 pm

    Finally. Finally. Finally.

    I hope Dave was there to enjoy it. He deserved it.

    To Dave, Derek, Jay, Marc… Everyone for so, so long: Thank you. We’re finally going to the playoffs.

  4. JMB on September 30th, 2022 10:16 pm

    Amazing game.

  5. kmsandrbs on September 30th, 2022 10:40 pm

    That home run brought all the joy we need for now! (Though of course, hopefully more to come in the near future!) And Cal’s face after rounding first was utterly perfect.

  6. LongDistance on October 1st, 2022 12:07 am

    So…… so nice…

  7. ThundaPC on October 1st, 2022 1:25 am

    Yeah, I didn’t forget about this place. Such an incredibly important part of my Mariner fandom. Awesome job as usual, marc w. We made it, fellas!

  8. LongDistance on October 1st, 2022 4:36 am

    Oh wait.
    I just realized there were three things I haven’t done in a long time:
    1. Posted anything at all. (Done, see above.)
    2. Double posted. (And … here I am.)
    3. Or posted: Go M’s!

    Go M’s!

  9. zzyzx on October 1st, 2022 7:06 am

    I guessed my password. GOMS!!!!

  10. MKT on October 2nd, 2022 5:27 pm

    ‘after 20 years of learning in a million ways that We Don’t Get Nice Things, after finally getting a certifiably nice thing, my gut instinct is to go, “Well if you’re giving it to me, how nice can it be?”’

    Indeed, but on top of these most recent 20 years, there were 18 years of even worse futility from 1977 to 1994 (and for that matter, I attended a Seattle Pilots game; they lost).

    From 1995 to 2003, the Ms were one of the better and more interesting teams in all of baseball. But prior to that were 18 years where the organization was mostly not even trying to win, and following 2003 were 18 years where the organization often did try, but flopped repeatedly. So the 45 years of Mariner existence have been 80% comically bad, historically bad (the Ms set a major league record for most consecutive seasons under .500, although the Pirates later broke it), and often epically bad (first team ever to spend over $100M on salary — and lose 100 games).

    Given that a rebuild can be expected to take four years (that’s how long the Astros took) and this was still just Year 4, I was still wait-and-see on this year’s Ms team. And as Mark W alludes, there’s 45 years of reasons for being 80% skeptical of the organization.

    But DiPoto made the right moves, mostly (most of us wished that he would’ve obtained another bat during the off-season; but what we got was enough arms plus Eugenio to get the job done; also Romo was a predictable non-contributor from the get-go but unlike last season when they stubbornly and stupidly kept trotting out Montero to be their closer, literally costing them the playoffs because he lost games for them that they had no business losing, they quickly ditched Romo and developed a highly effective bullpen).

    It’s only a step, but what they’ve done this season was one of the necessary steps. Their recent losses probably cost them the #1 wildcard seed and may doom them to a first-round exit. But even so, I can’t complain about that, they made the playoffs a season early by my reckoning, and DiPoto has clearly laid a foundation for being a playoff team next season as well. That’s the way it’s supposed to be done, and so far it looks like the Ms are doing it.

  11. MKT on October 2nd, 2022 6:07 pm

    And shouldn’t we have more shout-outs to Dave Cameron, who founded this site and is now working in the Ms’ front office? Granted, he’s been there less than a year, but in another sense his contributions to the Ms stretch back for decades, including the famous open letter to Felix imploring him to stop throwing so many fastballs in the first inning, and indeed the nickname “King Felix” (although maybe it was Jason B who came up with that)?

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