On October 30, 2019 Daniel Hudson struck out Michael Brantley for the final out of the 2019 World Series. After a long playoff ride complete with huge moments in elimination games the Washington Nationals had won their first World Series in franchise history. For the Nationals, who had begun play as the Montreal Expos 50 years ago, this was the moment of a lifetime. They had not only played in their first World Series, they had won it too. But the Nationals making it to their first World Series meant something entirely different to another franchise located nearly 3000 miles away.
The Seattle Mariners are now the only team in Major League Baseball to have never made it to the World Series. While there are six teams who have yet to win it, the Mariners stand alone in this category.
The Mariners entered the league as one of two expansion franchises in 1977 along with the Toronto Blue Jays. After starting out with 14 straight losing seasons, their fortunes started to turn around in the early 1990’s with the addition of Lou Pinella as Manager and a core of young players that included Ken Griffey Jr., Randy Johnson and Alex Rodriguez. After making the playoffs four times between 1995-2001, including three trips to ALCS, the Mariners have suffered a 19 year playoff drought, the longest current drought in baseball.
With the retirement of Ichiro Suzuki earlier this year and their former ace Felix Hernandez not expected to be brought back for next season, the only two bright spots of the last two decades are gone. After going 68-94 in the 2019 season, the 25th worst record in baseball, the drought looks to continue at least for a while.
The last time there was only one team in baseball to have not appeared in the World Series goes back to the end of the 1926 season. The St. Louis Cardinals made their first World Series appearance leaving the St. Louis Browns of the American League with the distant honor. And it is a title the Browns held from 1926 until they won their first pennant in 1944 before losing to the Cardinals in the World Series. Ten years later the Browns moved to Baltimore and renamed themselves the Orioles. It has taken another 75 years for another team to hold the mantle of the only team to never play in a World Series, and I’m sure they wish they didn’t have the honor for even 75 seconds.
Honestly, it’s an embarrassing title. It is no doubt a title that will haunt their fans, and be a favorite subject of torment by their rivals. Five teams have been in the majors the same or less time than the Mariners (Blue Jays 1977, Marlins and Rockies 1993, Diamondbacks and Rays 1998) and have all made it to the World Series.
To make matters worse, while they have never appeared in a World Series they did set the record for most victories in a season, winning a still record 116 games in the 2001 before falling to the Yankees 4-1 in the ALCS. They hung a banner to commemorate their record which has been mocked since they failed to win the World Series that year. That banner will only look worse with time considering the other embarrassing honor they now hold.