When Will the Drought End?


T-Mobile Park, the home of the Mariners

Trevor Butler, Staff Writer

In 2001, the Seattle Mariners tied the 1906 Chicago Cubs for the most wins in an MLB regular season with 116. They made it all the way to the American League Championship Series where they lost to the New York Yankees. With established veterans and young stars, the future looked bright for the Mariners. 

They haven’t made the playoffs since then. 

It seems that everything that could go wrong for the M’s since then has. Though they had winning records at 93-69 in 2002 & 2003, they missed out on the playoffs while finishing 3rd and 2nd in the AL West. But after 03’ everything seemed to fall apart. 

2004, 2005, and 2006 saw the Mariners finish 4th in the west with losing records and no awards given to the team. 2007 saw the M’s return to winning ways, as they finished 2nd in the division at 88-74 and narrowly missed the playoffs. Even after a strong 2007 that brought up the question “Could 2008 break the streak?” the M’s 2008 season was one to forget. They tied their 3rd worst record ever in ‘08 at 61-101 and fired manager John McLaren after 72 games in favor of Jim Riggleman, who departed at years end. Even in a forgettable season, there was one highlight (or maybe it’s a lowlight, you decide.) On May 8 while trailing Texas 4-0, Mariners 1st baseman Richie Sexson took a pitch up high and charged the mound. The pitch didn’t hit him, and appeared to be a fairly routine missed pitch. (Richie Sexson Brawl (2008))  To this day, people don’t know why he charged the mound, but Sexson said he had been frustrated with things going on in his life which may have played a part. 

Once again, 2009 saw a turnaround for Seattle as they finished 3rd in the division at 85-77. One of the funniest moments of the season came on September 27, when Matt Tuiasosopo hit his first career home run. Little do people know, the home run was actually called. M’s color man Mike Blowers had predicted the home run almost to a T. (Crazy Prediction at a baseball game) But as the trend goes, 2010 was a down year for the M’s as they finished at 61-101 again and parted ways with manager Don Wakamatsu partway through the season, and manager Daren Brown at season’s end. 

2011 began to show the promise of young superstar pitcher Felix Hernandez. After being chosen as the Mariner’s 2010 team MVP by Baseball Reference (https://www.baseball-reference.com/) Hernandez was expected to be back in strong form in 2011, with new manager Eric Wedge leading the way. And a great season Felix had, as he was selected for the AL all-star team. The future was bright for the man they called “King Felix” and he would capitalize. Even though 2011 and 2012 weren’t so good, the bright star was Felix. 2012 especially was a year to remember for the M’s. The year started with the White Sox and Philip Humber coming to Safeco Field and throwing a perfect game against the Mariners. But that wasn’t the end of the pitching feats in Seattle. June 8th saw the Mariners throw a combined No Hitter lead by Kevin Millwood who went 6 strong innings. But wait, there’s more. On August 15th in a sunny Seattle, Washington, Felix Hernandez completed the ultimate pitching feat. In a 1-0 win over the Tampa Bay Rays, King Felix tossed a perfect game.  

The 2013 season was more of the same, as they finished 4th in a division that was now 1 team bigger, as the Houston Astros joined the M’s, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the Texas Rangers, and the Oakland A’s. They capped off the season at 71-91 and got rid of manager Eric Wedge in favor of veteran manager Lloyd McClendon.  

2014 brought seemingly the best chance for the Mariners to return to playoff glory, as a blockbuster set of trades that brought in star players Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz to play alongside Felix and star 3rd baseman Kyle Seager made the M’s look like real contenders. And contend they did, as they were in the thick of the playoff hunt up until the final day even though they came up short. Lloyd McClendon’s second year didn’t go as planned however. The Mariners once again finished 4th in the division at 76-86, but it was a good year for Kyle Seager, who hit .266 with 26 home runs. Another bright moment from the 2015 season came on August 12th, when Hisashi Iwakuma no-hit the Baltimore Orioles.  

Lloyd McClendon left Seattle at the end of the 2015 season and was replaced by Scott Servais, who is still in Seattle as of May 18, 2021. Servais took the helm for the 2016 season, and made an instant impact, leading the M’s to an 86-76 record in a season where the Mariners lead the AL West for a total of 32 days. Ever since the 2013 season, the trend has been a winning season followed by a losing one. That trend didn’t change in the 2017 season, as the Mariners finished 3rd in the division with a 78-84 record.  

2018 saw the breakout year of OF Mitch Haniger, who led the Mariners in WAR (Wins Above Replacement, a stat that determines how many wins a team would have with a replacement player.) at 6.5 while hitting .285 and blasting 26 home runs, making him an all-star for the 2018 season. Though it was another 3rd place finish, the Mariners were 89-73, and looking good for 2019. 

Then the offseason came. 

Jerry Dipoto and the Front Office decided it was rebuild time and shipped Cano and star pitcher Edwin Diaz off to the New York Mets, and refrained from resigning Nelson Cruz in the offseason, where he headed off to the Minnesota Twins. A flurry of moves left Mariners fans scratching their heads after a good season. 

Yet the Mariners seemed unaffected, getting out to a blazing start to the 2019 season, winning 13 of their first 15 games. Things were going quite well, but the Mariners hit a roadblock on April 12. A division rival in the Houston Astros came to town. The Astros hit 2 grand slams from 2nd baseman Jose Altuve and 1st baseman Yuli Gurriel, powering the Astros to a 10-6 victory. From there the Mariners lost 6 straight and 7 of their next 10. They finished the season at a dismal 68-94 and ended up 5th in the division. They were also victims of 2 combined no hitters. The first came on July 12th in a very powerful moment, as the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim no hit the Mariners just days after the passing of star pitcher Tyler Skaggs’ death. The second came weeks later on August 3rd as the Astros tossed a combined no hitter in the Houston debut of Aaron Sanchez and Joe Biagini. 

The 2020 season brought new and unforeseen challenges as teams had to adjust to a shortened schedule, more games against division rivals, and empty stadiums. The 60-game schedule skewed teams records and made teams look better or worse than they actually were. The Mariners looked good, but finished the season at 27-33 and missed out on the expanded playoffs. 

And that brings us to 2021. Fans back at T-Mobile Park, a full season of baseball, and a flurry of young talent gives Mariners fans hope for the future. Young studs like J.P Crawford, Kyle Lewis, and Jarred Kelenic have shown strong talent at the plate. But it’s been the year of the pitcher so far, as there have already been 6 no hitters this season. The Mariners are one of three teams to be no hit twice this year, joining the division foe Texas Rangers and Cleveland Indians. The Mariners have been no hit by John Means of the Baltimore Orioles on May 5th, and Spencer Turnbull of the Detroit Tigers on May 18th 

If you haven’t seen the video, Jon Bois and Secret Base (also known as SBnation) made an amazing documentary on the complete history of Mariners baseball, and is  highly recommend watching it if you’re a Mariners fan, or just a baseball fan in general. (The History of the Seattle Mariners: Supercut Edition)