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The Magic of Game 7

Some day, some way.

Lindsey Wasson/The Seattle Times

In their 40 seasons of existence, the Seattle Mariners Baseball Club has never participated in a Game 7.

Oh, sure, we’ve had a Game 5 (need I say more...), and we’ve won a couple series via walkoffs, but when it comes to a big-boy seven-game series, the M’s have fallen in either five or six games.

There’s something special about a Game 7, about a win-or-go-home mentality with the World Series on the line (either a trip there or the whole shebang itself). As baseball fans, we haven’t had a plethora of Game 7 opportunities lately, but when they do come around, they tend to be pretty special. Witness, the four World Series Game 7’s in the last fifteen years:

  • 2014 - Madison Bumgarner throwing five shutout innings of relief even despite Eric Hosmer’s mad dash to third base in the ninth
  • 2011 - A fairly anticlimactic Cardinals victory just one day after an epic Game 6 defined by Nelson Cruz’s shaky outfield defense and David Freese’s repeated heroics.
  • 2002 - The Angels won 4-1, but it came down to the wire - the Giants had runners on first and second with one out in the ninth before Troy Percival took care of Tsuyoshi Shinjo and Kenny Lofton (wow, those are some names).
  • 2001 - Luis Gonzalez’s epic walkoff single to beat Mariano Rivera and the dreaded Yankees. Not that you need to be reminded of this one.

This year, of course, we have an extra special treat: The two participants haven’t won a World Series since 1948 (Cleveland) and 1908 (Chicago). Both of these droughts are much longer than the current M’s wait, but both teams have at least won championships in the past, even if few today were old enough to appreciate those titles when they came.

What does this have to do with the Mariners? It wasn’t too many years ago that these franchises were running on fumes, their engines dead after years of false starts, 90+ losses, and fan bases sick of curses. Each team can point to awful moments - the Cubs go straight to the infamous (and unfairly villainized) Steve Bartman, while Cleveland fans single out the excruciating walkoff loss to the then-Florida Marlins in the 1997 World Series.

That devastating defeat, of course, happened in Game 7.

It’s misrepresentative to boil a 162-game season down to a single seven-game series. We learned this firsthand when the 2001 Mariners, arguably the greatest team in modern baseball history, collapsed in the ALCS.

But some day, some day in the not-too-distant future, the M’s will be back in the playoffs. We’ll be the ones cheering from the bleachers and filling the streets near the ballpark just to be close to the action. We’ll be living and dying with every single pitch, overreacting to every pitching change and bemoaning every hanging curve.

Until then, sit back, relax, and enjoy the last day of baseball for too many months.

Go M’s.