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Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

October 21, 2008 at 7:40 PM

M’s and World Series: how much angst needed?

So much for that quick decision it looked like the Mariners might make once their field of overall GM candidates became smaller than expected. The Mariners finished all of their interviewing of the Final Four candidates last week, but have yet to let their decision be known. It looked as if there might be a press conference tomorrow, but the chances of that are dwindling with each passing hour. Why are they taking so long? No idea. It’s an important decision and, as I wrote over the weekend, they have to get it right.
I am actually in Tampa right now, getting ready to attend tomorrow night’s opening game of the World Series. I’ll have some blog photos and video for you of action in and around the stadium at some point. I had actually planned on delaying my flight, anticipating a possible press conference today. But it became obvious yesterday that this wasn’t going to happen, so I’m here. The whole town is obviously buzzing about the Fall Classic. But I’ll tell you something: it will be nothing compared with the buzz in Philadelphia.
Yes, the Rays are in their first World Series. But sometimes, you have to consider the entire picture. I know there are plenty of frustrated Mariners fans bemoaning their lack of World Series appearances since 1977. And yes, the Rays only needed 11 seasons to make it to their first final.
But believe it or not, 31 years for the Mariners is really a drop in the bucket compared to the futility some franchises have felt when it comes to a lack of championships.
The Phillies have just one World Series title since 1883. That’s one title in 125 years if you’re keeping score at home. And that title came 28 years ago. So, when Seattle fans complain about being impatient about their lack of titles, the fans in Philly will shout “Cry me a River!”
I grew up in Montreal, where the Expos/Nationals franchise had just one playoff appearance since 1969. Montreal won’t get another shot.
But even us Expos fans were relative amateurs at the suffering game:
The Chicago Cubs haven’t won a World Series in 100 years.
The Texas Rangers have existed 47 years without any.
The Chicago White Sox went 88 years without one.
The Boston Red Sox went 86 years without one.
But yes, it’s true, those franchises, save the Rangers, did have some World Series appearances. Not many, but some. Is that how you gauge things? Well, you could.
In baseball, though, making the playoffs alone is considered more of an accomplishment than in any of the other major North Amercian sports. And the Mariners have made the playoffs more consistently than some of the World Series winners we’ve discussed.
Let’s go back a quarter century. That’s twenty-five years. A generation or more. There are plenty of 20-something ball fans out there, not to mention some thirtysomethings, who really don’t care about anything that happened before 1983 because they weren’t around to experience it. Some 40 or 50-somethings have nice memories but would like to see more, I’m sure. Especially now that they have the money to afford playoff tickets (maybe).
So, that 25-year measurement seems a nice, arbitrary one for some comparisons. Over the last quarter century, the Mariners have made the playoffs four times.
How does that compare to others?
Giants 6
Cubs 6
Twins 6
Mets 5
White Sox 5
Padres 5
Phillies 4
Pirates 3
Rangers 3
Royals 2
Brewers 1
As you can see, there are some pretty good franchises out there with only a couple more playoff appearances than the Mariners over the past 25 years. A few more that sit below the Mariners. And that’s going back 25 years to the dark old days of Seattle baseball. If we limited it to, say the last 15 years, then Seattle would look much better. Pittsburgh hasn’t made the playoffs since 1992. The Royals since 1985. This is Philadelphia’s second playoff appearance since 1993 — half of what the M’s have over that period.
Yes, the Red Sox, Yankees, Braves and A’s seemed to be making it every year not too long ago. The M’s are not about to catch them soon.
And true, sometimes one championship is better than a whole lot of runner up playoff appearances. I’m sure Braves fans would have liked more than just the one. Yes, playoff baseball is boring in Atlanta. At least, it felt that way the last few times they made it.
But how much solace are Pirates fans taking in that World Series they won back in 1979? How many people from Pittsburgh under the age of 40 really appreciate it? How many Cubs fans care that they at least won a World Series back before their great grandparents were born? It isn’t always about titles.
So, what’s better? A franchise that wins a World Series and goes into hibernation like the Royals? Or one that makes four post-season trips since 1995, like the M’s, without winning it all?
Not an easy question to answer. As an Expos fan, I’d have loved to see more than one split-season playoff appearance my entire lifetime. To me, the groaning from M’s fans (which I understand to a point since the Expos never won a championship either) can sound like it lacks perspective.
But then again, it’s true, the Rockies, Padres, Marlins, and now, the Rays, have all made it to the big show before the M’s. I do understand that it’s frustrating. But where does it rate historically? Any thoughts?



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