With the Nationals backing into the NL East division title tonight, following a Braves loss, they are on a much clearer path to the World Series. Along with the Reds, they own the best record in baseball and spent much of the season atop the standings. Should Washington find a way to win at least seven postseason games, they’ll leave the Seattle Mariners as the last remaining Major League Baseball team never to have been to the World Series.
Yet, back in 2001, when the Mariners appeared to be on the fast track to the big show, they had plenty of company among the World Series deficient: Houston, Colorado, Arizona, Anaheim, Washington, Tampa Bay and division-rival Texas. But as the Mariners sputtered in the playoffs against the Yankees, the Diamondbacks were on their way towards a Series win. Anaheim treated their fans to their first World Series (and World Series win) the next season, after a long 42-year wait. The Astros, 43 years overdue, found their way to the World Series in 2005. Colorado and Tampa Bay followed in 2007 and 2008, respectively, in their 15th and 11th seasons. Fans of the Rangers suffered longer, dating to their days as the second incarnation of the Washington Senators: 49-years. But Texas has been to the last two World Series.
Washington, combined with its time as the Montreal Expos, has been waiting a long time for such an opportunity, much longer than the Mariners who joined the league in a 1977 expansion. The 1981 Expos represent their only postseason entrant and the franchise has been around since 1969. Meanwhile, Mariners’ expansion classmate Toronto is a two-time World Series winner.
And while it’s been longer than most Cubs fans have been alive (1945) since Wrigley Field saw a World Series, the favorite Chicago franchise has at least been.
Whether the Nationals deliver Seattle one more black eye, remains to be seen. But the 2012 Mariners are definitely coming up small.