I wrote this on the bus to work and almost worked myself into tears doing it, so I want to share:
They took MLB from us in March, 1970. When we got it back in 1977, we played in a concrete coffin that Dave Niehaus called an “ugly duckling” in the final day of its baseball life.
We didn’t win more games than we lost until 1991. When ceiling tiles in the Kingdome fell in 1994, the league demanded that the team that already traveled more than any other play the remainder of its games on the road.
They tried to take baseball from us twice more. Voters denied Safeco Field in September of ’95, before it had a name. Public money spent on pro sports facilities is repugnant and I am against it, but I am forever thankful the state legislature made it happen. Frankly, the Mariners shouldn’t even exist.
But it’s our guy who earned a higher vote percentage for the hall of fame than anyone else to play the game. We got to celebrate perhaps the best team to ever play in 2001 with an All-Star Game in our city. You could have put the ’01 Mariners against the NL All-Stars and I think they would have won. We got to see one of the most memorable in-season comebacks in baseball in 1995.
People forget that the Mariners briefly led the AL West in the final week of the ’95 Season. Despite falling back to a tie, the team hung their first banner on an inspiring performance of one of the most dominant pitchers the game has ever seen, and the “ugly duckling” turned into an ally when everyone scored on a ball into the bullpen.
That team would play one of the best postseason games in the history of the game. The game was a microcosm of a series where they fell behind 0-2 and won the final three. In the bottom of the 11th, the M’s surely would have accepted one run just to tie. To keep playing just one more inning would have been a success. Instead, we got two, and the team earned at least four more games instead of one more inning.
The 2016 Mariners probably shouldn’t even be here. Too many blown leads late and critical errors feel like they should be disqualified. But they aren’t. Their story is really the story of the franchise. We shouldn’t be here, but here we are. Let’s celebrate and play some baseball.