This is something I’ve wanted to do for a while, even though it would have elicited some measure of violence from my 8-year-old self some years ago.
I’m going to defend the Seattle Mariners and their fans.
The genesis of this post escapes me at the moment, but I can say with confidence that it wasn’t the article I mused on yesterday. That article did rekindled the fire, but I had wanted to write about the Mariners some time well before.
The M’s, as they’re sometimes called, were born under rather dubious circumstances. That is to say, they only exist because of a lawsuit.
In 1969, an expansion franchise called the Seattle Pilots was formed to balance out the league during hasty expansion efforts that also included the KC Royals, the San Diego Padres, and the Montreal Expos. After the 1969 season, the Pilots were bought by Bud Selig and moved to Milwaukee.
(Without going into too much detail, all of this happened because the KC Athletics moved to Oakland, which led to a Missouri senator threatening to sue the MLB for their anti-trust exemption. The Pilots spent only the one season in Seattle, nearly going broke before being relocated to replace the Braves, who had left Milwaukee for Atlanta.)
Having their team rescinded after only one season, Seattle filed a suit against the MLB, which they dropped in 1976. A year later the Mariners were added to the American League. They would play in the Kingdome, which had been built for the Pilots.
Winning never came easily* to the Mariners, as they struggled mightily for almost 20 years. They’re much like the Rangers in that way and it would be in back-to-back seasons [’95, ’96] that both teams would finally be considered true contenders.
*It wasn’t until 1991 that they even had a winning season, never mind making the playoffs.
In 1994, the Mariners were only 2 games behind the Rangers for 1st in the AL West when the strike stopped baseball operations league wide. This ended any hope of either team making the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.
(It was also in 1994 that pieces of the Kingdome roof literally broke off and fell onto the field and seats below. From what I have read, no one was injured, but that’s not an ideal situation either way.)
The following year the Mariners finally broke into the playoffs after going on a tear late in the season and winning a 1-game playoff with the Angels for the AL West title. Then there was this, a moment not unlike Neftali Feliz striking out A-Rod last October.
(It was that moment that many credit with saving Seattle baseball, as it led to the construction of Safeco Field and a renewed energy in the fanbase. It should also be noted that, even though I hated the M’s when I was a kid, I consider this one of the greatest moments in baseball history. Everything about it is magic.)
Over the years the Mariners have seen other success and have fielded HOF players like Randy Johnson, Ichiro, and Ken Griffey Jr.
Like all franchises, they haven’t always been great, but to say that their city is miserable based on some arbitrary equation is asinine. It is apparent that Tom Van Riper went to 0% effort to interview anyone that is actually from Seattle, because even I know that Qwest Field** is one of the hardest places to play in the NFL.
**Where the Seattle Seahawks play.
Why is it so hard to play there? Because their crowd is widely considered the loudest in the game, a reputation that goes back decades.
Being a Ranger fan might make me more sensitive to the issue, but in my estimation it is never anyone else’s business to tell me that I should be sorry for my team.
The Filip Bondys and Tom Van Ripers of the world want to dole out labels that say that this team is terrible or that these fans are miserable, but no one will ever shame me into believing that being the fan of another team would somehow make my life better.
The team you love is the team you love and every fan will have to take the good with the bad. So it is with the people of Seattle, who I felt like sticking up for tonight.