Mariners drought finally over

Although the Mariners couldn’t make it past the division series, the squad finally gave fans the excitement they’d been waiting for

Evan Sadler and Amare Srinivasan

Sophomore Mariners fan, Tate Livingston wearing his favorite player’s jersey. (Courtesy of Tate Livingston).
After 21 years of excruciating losses and the inability for fans to watch the Seattle Mariners in the postseason, supporters of the Emerald City finally got to see their team compete in the MLB’s Red October.
In 2001, the Seattle Mariners finished the regular season with a record of 116 wins and 46 losses, which tied the record for the most wins in a Major League Baseball season of all time. However, they were not able to capitalize off this historic season. In a nail biting series for fans in the Pacific Northwest, the Mariners lost to the World Series’s runner-ups, the New York Yankees, after five games.
After countless roster moves, changes in the coaching staff, and an extremely rough past two decades of rebuilding, the Mariners finally had a shot at making the playoffs in 2021. However, even after a late rally to close in on the final wildcard spot, the Mariners narrowly missed the playoffs by just two games. Going into the off-season, fans and players were itching to make the playoffs, and needed to end the drought. In a way, last season was when the momentum was finally starting to shift on the path to the Mariners’ redemption.
The 2022 MLB season started as an exciting one for Mariners fans, as standout rookie outfielder Julio Rodgríguez was brought up to the big leagues before debuting on opening day, April 8, 2022. After terrorizing opposing pitchers in the first half of the season, Rodgríguez received both an All-Star selection as well as getting the chance to compete in the league’s home run derby. Rodgríguez went on to hit 81 home-runs during the All-Star Home Run Derby, but fell short in the championship round to Juan Soto of the Washington Nationals. Despite coming second in the homerun derby, Rodríguez hit the second most total home runs of all time in the derby, cementing himself as one of the most exciting young players in the game.
With Rodríguez leading the squad, the Mariners went on their longest winning streak since 2001, winning 14 games in a row and moving up into the MLB wildcard spot.

Rodríguez wasn’t the only new acquisition for the Mariners; they were also able to sign American League Cy Young winning pitcher Robbie Ray, draft budding pitcher George Kirby, and trade for elite workhorse starter Luis Castillo.
This season, they developed a strong but inconsistent offense to combine with their well-rounded defense. With these new weapons in their arsenal, the Mariners would close out the season 90-72, scraping past the Tampa Bay Rays on the back of catcher Cal “Big Dumper” Raleigh. In the bottom of the ninth against the Oakland Athletics, Raleigh pushed the team into the playoffs with a walk-off home run, clinching the wild card berth ending the 21 year playoff drought for the Rainy City.
The experience of finally getting to see the Mariners in the playoffs was shared by both diehard fans who had been waiting all 21 years of the drought, as well as fans who had never seen the squad play ball in October.
One fan who hadn’t seen them in the playoffs before, sophomore Tate Livingston, was relieved by the Mariners finally making it. The strike from Cal Raleigh’s bat not only brought the Mariners to the playoffs, but also warranted a special reaction from Mariners fans everywhere.
“I was screaming and going crazy. I was in my family room with my mom and dad, we were all just going crazy,” Livingston said.
He had grown up a huge fan of both playing, as well as watching baseball.
“I started playing little league when I was really young and became a fan around 10 years ago, it’s been a while since they made it to the playoffs,” Livingston said.
Fellow sophomore, Henry Kelly shared a similar feeling of excitement when the Mariners clinched.
“I was at the Ballard game and I got the notification on my phone. A group of my friends were all crowded and we all just started screaming,” Kelly said.
tIn the wildcard series versus the Toronto Blue Jays, the Mariners dominated with a 2-0 series win. The first game was headlined by outstanding performances from pitcher Luis Castillo, who became the first pitcher in Mariners postseason history to throw 7+ scoreless innings and star Julio Rodríguez, who had an early run to take the lead. However, it wasn’t until Cal Raleigh was able to hit a two-run homer which culminated in a quick 3-0 lead within the first inning and allowed Mariners fans to have a sigh of relief.
The Mariners would then return to Toronto the following night and try to put an end to the series. Game two started as a nightmare for the Mariners, as they fell to a relatively early 1-8 deficit by the bottom of the 5th inning. Although it wasn’t looking pretty, not all hope was lost. Within the 6th inning, the Mariners went on to score four runs and reduce the deficit to just a three run gap. In the 8th inning, they managed to tie the game with a 9-9 scoreline. To finish off the comeback, second baseman Adam Frazier hit a game-winning double, bringing home the man who ended the drought, Cal Raleigh.
Fans from around the world were stunned by the series, and Livingston once again expressed his excitement among other fans with the Mariners returning to their vicennial playoff glory. While Kelly wasn’t watching at the park, he shared a similar form of joy. “That game two was the greatest baseball game I’ve ever seen. I was jumping up and down,” Kelly said.
Unfortunately, this buzz only lasted until the ALDS series, where the Mariners faced off against the Houston Astros. In a gut-wrenching game one, Astros designated hitter Yordan Álvarez hit a three run home run in the bottom of the ninth to give them a 1-0 series lead. In game two, Mariners fans were hopeful that the squad would come in feeling some sort of redemption. However, after a slow start, Álvarez once again hit the tying and leading runs for the Astros in the 6th inning, making the series 2-0.
Neither of those games produced the same build-up and hype for fans as game three did, where the Mariners played playoff baseball in Seattle for the first time in 21 years. Facing elimination, fans were expecting to see the Mariners put up all that they had in them. But to their surprise, game three started off with an extremely slow start with no one scoring within the first nine innings. Fans were starting to get restless as it turned out to be the longest game without a run in postseason history. It wasn’t until the 18th inning when Astros shortstop Jeremy Peña hit the go-ahead home run and sent the Mariners packing.
Despite fans not receiving the outcome in the playoffs that they had hoped for, the Mariners were able to exceed expectations for the season and finally put an end to the drought.