by Alex Poletti
As Aroldis Chapman sealed the door on a 3-2 victory against the Cleveland Indians, the Yankees 82nd on the year, the Bronx Bombers made history with their 27th consecutive winning season. While the feat is no doubt impressive, the Seattle Mariners hold the more intriguing streak, having disappointed their fanbase in each of the last 27 campaigns.
“We are proud to celebrate 27 years of ineptitude as a professional organization,” chief executive officer John Stanton says. “It’s been difficult, but the tenets of our ballclub have allowed us to let down the citizens of the greater Seattle area for almost 30 years.”
The road has admittedly not been easy for the Mariners, who have on a few occasions performed well during the regular season. Luckily for the squad, continual postseason failure has secured fans’ unhappiness every year.
“The streak almost ended before it became significant,” retired Mariners manager Lou Pinella recalls. “In 2001, we set the record for most games won in a season. Thank god we choked hard in the playoffs, or else we never would have gotten this far.”
After 2001, the Mariners doubled down on their efforts to disappoint fans, missing the playoffs every season since. The brilliance is a credit not just to underperforming players and managers, but also shrewd executive decisions.
“I don’t think we could have achieved this if we didn’t trade away every popular player we’ve ever had,” general manager Jerry Dipoto muses. “It started with Griffey, then Randy Johnson, Ichiro and finally Cano and Diaz this past offseason. Not only does it take any sense of pride away from our fans, but it also makes the team worse. It’s really a two-for-one.”
This season it seemed that the streak might end, as the Mariners started off with a 12-3 record. Pundits speculated that even a wild card birth would be enough to end the streak, given the long playoff drought, so everything was on the line. Luckily, the Mariners figured out a way to turn it around.
“I think we, the players, really took matters into our own hands,” Mariners veteran Mitch Haniger says. “Dee Gordon, Felix Hernandez and I called a team meeting and tried to reason with the other guys. I asked the squad, ‘is this really what the city of Seattle deserves?’ and we all agreed that it wasn’t.”
27 is certainly impressive, but some argue that the disappointment actually spans a longer period of time.
“When you look at the history of the Mariners organization, there are only about five years of general baseball proficiency,” baseball historian Jonah Vark says. “If you consider that they have zero World Series appearances and attendance has been lackluster all the while, you could make a serious argument that the Mariners have disappointed fans their entire existence.”