Since 2005, there have been 291 iterations of Sunday Night Baseball. The Mariners have appeared in precisely zero of them.
Yep, you read that correctly.
The last time Seattle appeared on SNB? June 6, 2004, a truly wild game that saw the Jamie Moyer-led Mariners take home a walkoff victory over the Chicago White Sox.
Fortunately for Mariner fans who crave the adoration of ESPN - which was definitely less of a good thing back when Joe Morgan was in the booth - our long national nightmare is finally at an end. The M's take on the Chicago Cubs tonight in the rubber match of a three-game set, and our beloved King Felix takes the hill.
The world has changed a lot since that fateful June day. Here's what you need to know.
ESPN really, really, really hates the Mariners
I took this research from @CespedesBBQ and finished it off, updating it for the '15 and '16 seasons. Since the beginning of the 2005 season, the Yankees have appeared on Sunday Night Baseball a big-league best 60 times. Both the Red Sox, with 55, and the Cardinals, with 51, have topped 50 appearances. Roughly 13% of the time, or more than one out of every eight games, SNB is between the Red Sox and the Yankees.
Obviously, it's true that the "Worldwide Leader" would rather feature good teams than bad teams, and the Mariners haven't been all that good over the past decade-plus. But plenty of bad squads have been featured - the Reds, for example, have won a grand total of two playoff games in the past 20 years, yet they made it on 14 times since 2005. It wasn't until last year that the Cubs made the NLCS in that time period, but they've been on SNB a jaw-dropping 36 times. And on, and on, and on.
West Coast bias is real. This is all the proof you need.
The last Sunday Night appearance was completely bananas.
Check out this win probability chart.
The box score has some oldies but goodies, with Scott Spiezio at third, Rich Aurilia at short, and something called a "Hiram Bocachica" in center field. Future Mariner legend Miguel Olivo was behind the plate for the White Sox. But in spite of that - rather, perhaps because of that - things weren't going well for the M's, who entered the ninth down two runs.
But in the ninth inning, White Sox closer Billy Koch melted down, allowing three hits and three walks, including a walkoff walk to Jolbert Cabrera, who, at the time, had a career 4.6% BB% in his seven-year major league career. He allowed four steals, including a double steal by Willie Bloomquist and Bret Boone.
Perhaps the best gem of them all, however, is this quote from Koch after the game.
"There is no reason I should ever blow a save to this team," said Koch, referring to the Mariners' last-place status in the AL West. "I've never been this mad about blowing a save. Ever."
Koch was dealt to the Marlins a week and a half later, where he played out his age-29 season and then never pitched again. So joke's on him!
Meanwhile, Ichiro went 2-5 in this game, including a ninth-inning single to kickstart the rally. Those two hits gave him 746 for his career. That means that since the Mariners last played on Sunday Night Baseball, Ichiro has amassed 2,252 hits. Not bad.
Another bit of trivia that goes with this game is the fact that, since this game, the Mariners have been skippered by nine different managers on a permanent and/or interim basis. Can you name them?
- Bob Melvin, who managed this game and the rest of the 2004 season
- Mike Hargrove
- John McLaren
- Jim Riggleman
- Don Wakamatsu
- Daren Brown
- Eric Wedge
- Lloyd McClendon
- Scott Servais
If you remembered Daren Brown, congratulations, because that dark finish to the 2010 season is one I've tried to scrub from my memory.
Tonight's game isn't at Safeco, and I imagine that the three-hour time difference plays a role in discouraging ESPN from scheduling the Mariners on SNB. But if this game is anything like their last appearance, the M's should keep lobbying for more opportunities.