It has been a long time, and I mean a long time, since the Seattle Mariners played into late October. Twenty-one years to be exact. The 2001 Mariners did something special, so special it’s forgotten about by most. The Mariners were able to do something that only the 1998 World Series Champions New York Yankees had achieved since the league expanded to 162 games in 1961. And that is,to have a winning percentage over .700. Mariners went on to win 116 games. So why does everyone remember the 1998 Yankees and not the 2001 Mariners? Mariners simply fell short, ironically to the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series 1-4. This year’s Mariners may not have won 116 games but there is all the reason to “Sea Us Rise.”
Seattle Mariners: Believe
For Mariners fans, the word “believe” is an understatement. For the last two decades, to an average Mariner fan, it’s safe to say that Mariners have been a mediocre club. They start the season off hot, cool off for the majority of the season, just to storm back at the end to make a run at the wild card, just to fall short. The front office likes to groom young talent just to trade them away to teams like the Yankees, while signing aging but blockbuster names like Robinson Cano (10 year, 240 million, 2013) and Nelson Cruz (4 year, 57 million, 2014). Both never meeting the expectations of the fans. Some would say it was just a move to get fans back into the stands, that’s an entirely different conversation. As fans, we believe and trust in the front office and management that they are making the right moves to one day bring home that hardware, The Commissioner’s Trophy.
After coming up short again in 2021, Seattle welcomed a new member to the Ownership Group. None other than Seattle own “The Kid” Ken Griffey Jr. Whispers of “Believe” hit local sports newspapers. The Mariners missed the postseason for the 20th year in a row, and you can hear the fans murmur the word “Believe.” News of Ken Griffey joining the front office was equivalent to an extra shot of their morning coffee.
Promising, Shocking, and All In
As the 2022 season got underway, it was not a shock to see the team have early success. Like most previous years that seems to be their pattern until teams figure them out. This year felt no different. Playing around .500 baseball throughout the first half of the season dropping 12 of 15 games and then turning right back around to go on a 14 game winning streak going into the All-Star break. Seattle’s win streak tying no other than the defending champions Atlanta Braves set earlier in the season. Seattle’s young stud Julio Rodrigez would go on to put on a show at the Home Run derby putting the league on notice that there is something brewing in Seattle and were not talking Starbucks.
The Mariners were 51-42 entering the second half of the season and the weather was just getting warmer. The Seattle Mariners were in playoff contention. It had been a long time since the Mariners were even considered playoff contenders this early on. There was a true sense of “This is the year, Believe.” The front office would go ahead and ice the top of the cake by signing the AL front runner Rookie of the Year to a 12 year 210 million deal late August. Not only did they lock up “J-ROD” but they also locked up RHP Luis Castillo and LHP Robbie Ray for the next 5 years. Both agreeing close to 110 million.
It’s the last week of September and the Seattle Mariners are in control of their own destiny. They have a very favorable schedule ahead of them as the teams they are facing have all been eliminated from playoff contention. However, that did not stop the Royals from taking the series this last weekend. Baltimore looks to continue to have a hot hand vs the Red Sox hoping to narrow the gap, now just 3.5 games to the Mariners. Is this finally the year? I “Believe” it is. Not just this year, but I believe the Mariners will be playing in late October for years to come.