As the final four of the Tournament of Sadness began and all prior matchups faded away, the heart of Mariners fans became clear. Lost opportunities, unfulfilled potential, comical failure — sure, those things were all sad. But the thing that makes Mariners fans the most sad, even more so than never appearing in a World Series, is the gaping hole in the “playoff appearances” category. Two droughts of 18 years or longer, sandwiching a brief flurry of success. The final fight was between two warriors that cannot exist without each other. It’s hard to have more than four playoff appearances when you take 18 year (and counting) breaks from going, and you can’t really have a drought like this if you keep making the playoffs. (This is the type of top-tier analysis you’ve come to expect from Trident Deck, and we have no intention of stopping).
Until it came down to the big four (one of which was the Adam Jones trade, and NOT the teams’s initial 18 year voyage of incompetence), the voting philosophy was all over the map. In some cases, moments were bigger than eras. A game in early August played by the greatest team in Mariners history won comfortably over that previously referenced 18 year voyage. Despite all the success on either side of that game, it felt all too familiar. A harbinger of failure to come, perhaps. In another region, Bobby Ayala, who in this case represents an era more than a person, defeated one of the most crushing moments in the team’s limited playoff history. Game 161, that nine inning pour of pure, distilled Mariners, had the type of staying power that many experts predicted. It was strong enough to take down the greatest prospect failure in team history. But even that singular Mariners Moment could not stand and face the giant who would become the tournament champion.
The playoff drought is king. It is not a good king. It has no interest in the will of the people. Only in the expansion of its suffocating empire. Will the Mariners overthrow this tyrant in 2020? For myriad reasons, almost certainly not. How about in 2021, that magical year of opening windows? Reader, have you not met the Seattle Mariners? You may say this is an abandonment of hope. No, sailor. They will someday lead the revolution against this evil king. Of that I’m sure. No, this is merely showing respect to a colossus. You don’t reign for 18 years by accident. Tempering expectations in this case is not weakness. It’s just knowing what you’re up against.
Embrace the sadness, sailor. Someday, that king will meet his vile end. And when he does, we will carry his head through the streets, singing the praises of the Outfield Teens who ended him. Until then, settle in. It’s going to be a journey. And it’s going to be very sad.