On April 6, 1977, the expansion Seattle Mariners played their first game in franchise history, losing 7-0 to the California Angels, who where led by the nine-hit pitching of Frank Tanana and four RBIs from Joe Rudi.
The next day, their fellow first-year expansion team, the Toronto Blue Jays, debuted at Exhibition Stadium with a 9-5 win over the Chicago White Sox, with Doug Ault hitting two homers to pace the Jays.
From that nearly simultaneous start through yesterday’s 1-0 Blue Jays win over Seattle at their new home, Rogers Centre (the Blue Jays moved inside in 1989, the Mariners moved outside in 1999), each team has played 5,373 games.
Here’s a look at how they compare:
Win-loss: Blue Jays 2,666-2,707 (.496), Mariners 2,519-2,854 (.469).
First winning season: Blue Jays 1983, Mariners 1991.
Winning seasons: Blue Jays 18 (plus a 77-75 record in 2010), Mariners 11
First playoff appearance: Blue Jays 1985, Mariners 1995
Last playoff appearance: Blue Jays 1993, Mariners 2001
Total playoff appearances: Blue Jays 5, Mariners 4
Division titles: Blue Jays 5, Mariners 3
World Series appearances: Blue Jays 2, Mariners 0
World Series titles: Blue Jays 2, Mariners 0
Total attendance: Blue Jays 78,826,794, Mariners 66,136,140
Best attendance year: Blue Jays 4,057,947 in 1993, Mariners 3,540,482 in 2002.
Estimated franchise value (according to Forbes Magazine, April 10, 2010): Blue Jays $353 million, Mariners $426 million.
Conclusion: It’s hard not to arrive at the conclusion that the Blue Jays have been decisively more successful than their expansion brethren. They have won 147 more games, they had a winning record eight years ahead of the Mariners, made the playoffs 10 years ahead of the M’s, and drawn 12,690,654 more fans. And, oh yeah, they won those two World Series (in 1992 and ’93), while the M’s remain one of three franchises in MLB (along with Texas and Montreal/Washington) to never get a sniff of the World Series.
On the other hand, the Jays haven’t been back to the postseason since Joe Carter’s Game 6 blast won the 1993 World Series, while the Mariners (who have the luxury of NOT having the Yankees or Red Sox in their division) have made all four of their appearances since then. And the Mariners did have that record-setting 2001 season in which they won 116 games (but again failed to make it to the World Series). And, according to Forbes Magazine, the Seattle franchise is worth about $73 million more than the Toronto franchise.
The two teams have Pat Gillick, John Olerud and Pat Borders in common, but the Blue Jays still have ultimate bragging rights.