SEATTLE – The outcome seemed certain after a seven-run first inning, then became a little less so midway through the game, but it became official late Tuesday evening when closer Daniel Hudson secured the final out of the Washington Nationals’ 7-4 victory over the Cardinals at Nationals Park.
As Nationals players raucously celebrated their dominant National League Championship Series sweep of St. Louis, the Seattle Mariners’ franchise failures gained a new level of ignominy, even though their 2019 season ended weeks ago.
With the Nationals headed to the World Series for the first time in franchise’s 50-year history, including their 36 seasons as the Montreal Expos, the Mariners stand alone in perpetual failure as the only active organization in Major League Baseball to have never appeared in a World Series.
The Expos were founded in 1969 and made the playoffs just once, in 1981, losing in the NLCS to the Dodgers. MLB relocated the Expos to Washington, D.C., for the 2005 season and ran the organization until Ted Lerner purchased the team midway through 2006. Under Lerner’s ownership, the Nationals have made the postseason five times since 2012, but never won a postseason series until this year. By comparison, Seattle had just three winning seasons in that same eight-year span.
Beleaguered and success-starved Mariners fans were already dealing with the dubious honor of holding the longest current streak of seasons without a postseason appearance of all the major four sports in North America, now at 18 years and counting.
Seattle’s most recent postseason appearance came in 2001 when the team won an MLB-record 116 games but lost to the Yankees in the American League Championship Series in five games.
Since then, the Mariners have had just seven winning seasons and only flirted with a postseason berth in three of them.
Started in 1977, the franchise has made four postseason appearances in its existence – 1995, 1997, 2000 and 2001.
With general manager Jerry Dipoto convincing the Mariners ownership group led by John Stanton to embark on a rebuild that they have labeled a “step-back,” the streak of seasons without a World Series or even a playoff appearance seems likely to continue for at least two to three more.
In terms of professional sports in Seattle, the Mariners are the only team without a title. The Sonics brought the city’s first major pro sports league title, winning the NBA championship in 1979. Since 2001’s success, the Mariners have watched helplessly as the Seahawks have taken control of sports popularity in the city. The Seahawks’ 2005 Super Bowl appearance started the shift, and it became permanent with the 2014 Super Bowl title and even next year’s Super Bowl loss to the Patriots. A perennial playoff contender, the Seahawks have become the model franchise. The Seattle Storm have won three WNBA titles, and the Seattle Sounders claimed the MLS Cup in 2016.
While the Mariners are the only MLB team not to make a World Series, they aren’t alone in futility for the other major professional sports.
In the NFL, the Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars, Detroit Lions and Houston Texans have never reached the Super Bowl. The list of franchises to never make the NBA Finals: the Minnesota Timberwolves, Memphis Grizzlies, New Orleans Pelicans, Charlotte Hornets, Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers. In the NHL, the Winnipeg Jets, Arizona Coyotes and Columbus Blue Jackets have yet to play for a Stanley Cup.
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