Sailors end two decades of misery by returning to playoffs

SEATTLE (AP) — Due to a statistic, pitcher Matthew Boyd has become the go-to player to ask about the Seattle Mariners’ situation.

Not the stats on the back of his baseball card, mind you. It’s the fact that Boyd was born in Bellevue, Washington on February 2, 1991. He grew up on nearby Mercer Island and was 10 the last time Seattle made the playoffs.

“I was really lucky to have…

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SEATTLE (AP) — Due to a statistic, pitcher Matthew Boyd has become the go-to player to ask about the Seattle Mariners’ situation.

Not the stats on the back of his baseball card, mind you. It’s the fact that Boyd was born in Bellevue, Washington on February 2, 1991. He grew up on nearby Mercer Island and was 10 the last time Seattle made the playoffs.

“I was really lucky to have really good baseball teams at a time in my life when it was kind of those transformational years,” Boyd said. “I just wanted to watch the game on TV. I wanted to go to the Kingdom every day. It was really special. It was huge for me. I’m very lucky that it was because baseball was fun.

Baseball is fun again in the Pacific Northwest like it hasn’t been in over two decades. The longest playoff drought in the four major professional sports ended Friday night when the Mariners secured a coveted spot in Major League Baseball’s playoffs.

And Seattle did it as much as possible. Cal Raleigh, sent to the minors due to difficulties early in the season, with two outs in the ninth inning at 3-2 to beat the Oakland Athletics 2-1.

It was storybook stuff, played by kids in backyards for generations. And it joins a small list of singular, unforgettable moments – a shot, a play, a swing – in Seattle sports history.

“It was the craziest thing ever. I don’t think I will be able to forget that moment,” Raleigh said.

Seattle will play in the wildcard round, potentially as a beneficiary of the playoff expansion that added a third wildcard team for each league. Toronto and Tampa Bay have clinched the other two additional spots in the AL, and the playoff schedule has yet to be set.

But the path doesn’t matter to fans, who if they were born the last time Seattle made the playoffs are now legally old enough to buy a booze to celebrate the comeback.

That includes Boyd, who was acquired by his hometown team at the trade deadline.

“The thing about Seattle, Seattle loves baseball and it really is a baseball city,” Boyd said. “Recently the focus has been on the Seahawks because of their great success, but when you have a winner it’s really cool to see the energy and the fans come out in droves.”

Seattle fans last saw their team play a postseason game on October 22, 2001, when the Mariners lost to the New York Yankees in Game 5 of the AL Championship Series. So 7,656 days will have passed for them by next Friday when the AL playoffs begin.

The last time the Mariners played in a playoff game, Tom Brady had made four career starts. Blockbuster Video still had over 5,000 stores nationwide. Michael Jordan was about to begin a two-year addendum to his career with the Washington Wizards.

The Iphone? It was still in 5 and a half years. But the iPod? Well, that went on sale on October 23, 2001.

Google was not yet a verb. Facebook? No. Same with Twitter, Instagram, TikTok or any idea what social media means.

This long drought has made Seattle an unhappy franchise, the butt of jokes. The Mariners still remain the only team never to reach the World Series despite rosters that included Ken Griffey Jr., Randy Johnson, Alex Rodriguez and Edgar Martinez.

seems ready that it could be a team to put an end to this anecdote as well.

“I know everyone is exhausted. ‘End the drought. No more drought.’ I heard it for seven years,” Servais said. “Every day when I get up and drive to work, that’s what worries me. The goal is to win a World Series, not just end the drought.

Ichiro Suzuki played in 1,861 career regular season games for the Mariners and just 10 playoff games, all in his first season. Franchise cornerstones Felix Hernandez and Kyle Seager never saw playoff baseball after spending most or all of their careers with the Mariners.

All of the moves that were supposed to push Seattle to the top at various times over the two decades never equated to a playoff berth.

Adrian Beltre, Richie Sexson, Cliff Lee, Erik Bedard, Chone Figgins, Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz were all brought in at some point over the past two decades with the belief that they could make a difference. And while Seattle has come close on several occasions, an entire generation of fans have missed out on the playoff experience.

Those fans were instead treated to championships by the Seahawks, Storms and Sounders. They saw the SuperSonics leave and the Kraken arrive.

This led to apathy and anger from baseball fans. And the belief that ownership sometimes cared more about entertainment and profit than product on the pitch.

But there’s no doubt that when the Mariners are good, Seattle embraces the team differently than it embraces other local teams.

Whether those fans get a home playoff game to celebrate Seattle’s comeback remains a question. That will be decided in the coming days as the Mariners battle Toronto and Tampa Bay to seed and settle Seattle’s path to the playoffs.

But for the first time in a generation, there’s a playoff to be discussed in Seattle.

“A lot of people worked very, very hard for a long time,” Seattle pitcher Marco Gonzales said. “Even when times were dark. We have not seen the light at the end of the tunnel. And many people believed when they had no reason to. And so it’s for them.

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