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So Your Baseball Team Has Never Been to the World Series

A Fan’s Guide to Surviving and Thriving Sans Pennant

Baseball: AL Playoffs. View of fans in s
“We’re trying, Jennifer!” the Mariners claim. But are they though?
Photo by Scott Clarke/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images/Getty Images

I’m in the business of misery. Let’s take it from the top.

Tonight, the Washington Nationals will face the Houston Astros in Game 1 of the 2019 World Series. It is the Washington franchise’s first ever trip to the World Series, dating back to their advent as the Montreal Expos in 1969. It took them exactly a half of a century to reach the zenith of major league baseball.

The National’s accomplishment has shined a light on another franchise that existed free from the burden of being The Best. Your Seattle Mariners, the only other team coming in 2019 to never have reached a World Series, did not advance to the World Series. Nor, did they even advance to the postseason. The Mariners players have long since retreated to their homes to play Madden or Fortnight, undisturbed by clubhouse hijinks, their wives free to birth children without fueling exhausting debates.

Some Mariner fans find the National’s success to be sad and demoralizing. I pity them. I find it invigorating and joyous. Why, you ask? Not because it proves that after half a century of futility, you too can finally accomplish something that won’t lead to uncomfortable questions at the Thanksgiving dinner table. No. It’s because by losing, the Mariners have won.

They are the only active team in major league baseball to have never played in the World Series! Taste it, every other team, and that’s all of you, who has ever raised a pennant! The Mariners are the best!

If you haven’t been scared off by my contrarian view, it’s a sign you need to get on my level. Here is a handy list of ways to embrace historical ineptitude.

Disclaimer: Please consult a physician before beginning any program designed to help you enjoy losing baseball. Side effects include, but are not limited to, loss of invitations to hang out with friends, being blocked on social media, loss of bladder control, and, rarely, a contending baseball team.

The World Series is for Quitters

A long World Series drought is something you have to really commit to. It’s not something that just happens; it is something that is achieved. Going into tonight, 114 World Series have been contested. Since the first World Series in 1903, major league baseball has only had 30 franchises (these 30 franchises have played under 62 different names (shout out to the Cleveland Naps!), and many in different cities than the one in which the franchise currently resides).

The Chicago Cubs infamously held out 70 years between World Series appearances. That’s truly impressive, and you can tell that over the years the franchise really pulled out all the stops to keep the team losing. They spread stories about angry goat farmers and black cats. They even went so far as to destroy an innocent fan’s life in order to keep their streak alive.

Cursed Chicago Cubs Baseball Destroyed
In 2003 the Cubs were getting too close to the World Series. The franchise used this ball to stop it. You know what I’m talking about.
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

As mentioned above, the Washington Nationals franchise went 50 years before reaching their first World Series. The franchise includes all those years in Montreal (honestly, it doesn’t seem fair to count that, but we are). The Montreal Expos were so committed to their streak that they created labor strikes in order to avoid winning (No, I cannot site my sources on this declaration. Just think about it. You’ll see I’m right.). MLB tried to foil them in 1981 by coming up with First and Second Half winners, but despite winning the first ever Division Series, the Expos dutifully lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NCLS. Their 1994 labor strike was so successful at stopping them from reaching the postseason that the entire World Series was cancelled. Incredible.

The Texas Rangers/Washington Senators v. 2.0 almost reached the half century mark, but fell short at just 49 years without a pennant.

The next longest World Series-free streak belongs to the Chicago White Sox. They went 45 years. This is even more impressive when you see that this streak came immediately after a 39 year streak. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

The Houston Astros/Colt .45s check in at 43 years. The St. Louis Browns and Philadelphia/Kansas City/Oakland Athletics each own a 41 year streak, and the Los Angeles/California/Anaheim/Los Angeles of Anaheim/whatever-they-are-now Angels, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Cleveland can each lay claim to 40 straight years of averting World Series play.

Where does that leave your Seattle Mariners? I’m glad you asked. Not only are your Seattle Mariners the only franchise to have never reached the World Series, they also own the 6th longest World Series-free streak in the history of major league baseball. 11 franchises have had streaks of 40 years or longer. The Pirates have the only other active streak of 40 years or more.

6th is pretty good when you take into account that the Mariners have only been around for 42 years. The White Sox had to exist since the World Series started in 1903 to get in their long streaks. Red Sox fans complained unceasingly about being cursed and whatnot, but the team was playing in the World Series. Their longest streak without winning a pennant ended at 27 years in 1946.

Spectators At The 1946 World Series
St. Louis fans taunting the Red Sox in 1946 for ending their streak.
Photo by APA/Getty Images

The fact is, very few teams have the gumption and commitment to maintain their streaks. It take true courage to stand up to the hords of fans and sports radio hosts yelling about “winning” and “championships”. Stay the course, Mariners. You’re only 28 years away from tying the Cub’s record.

I mean, we’ve come this far already.

If You Don’t Expect too Much, You Might Not Be Let Down

In life, you will receive conflicting advice about dealing with the emotion of envy. This is because it is a feeling that can devour and destroy you if you don’t take care to channel and control it appropriately.

Do you watch other teams spray victory champagne and feel a sharp stab of jealousy? Do you watch fans screaming in the crowd as players hoist championship trophies overhead and cry with want at the sight? Does envy make you forget the environmental impact of all that confetti being released into the air during championship parades? I get it! You want what those fans have.

Boston Red Sox World Series Puerto Rico Trip
TBH, that trophy isn’t even that cool.
Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

If you set the expectation that championship trophies and postseason champagne showers will never part of your Mariners experience, you can release yourself from tyranny of expectation. Your team will never spray victory champagne or hoist trophies or destroy their urban environment with a parade. And that’s okay, because you don’t expect them to.

This shouldn’t just be about divorcing yourself from your desire for a championship. It should be about completely removing the possibility from your baseball mind. To do this, you will need to dig deep into the root causes of your jealousy. You may find helpful advice for this in my next tip.

Seek Personal Satisfaction in Pursuits Outside of Baseball Fandom

Ask yourself, if the Mariners win the World Series, what will my life have that it doesn’t have now? You’ll probably answer something like a championship t-shirt, the pride and satisfaction of knowing your team is a winner, and the feeling that staying loyal to the team for all these years was worth it in the end.

A championship t-shirt is something you purchase to wear on airplanes and when you travel to other cities. In doing so, you are seeking the acknowledgement from other that you support a winning team. By extension, you feel that this mean you too are a winner. Perhaps you will wear it to attract the attention of other Mariners fan so you can mutually attest to the winning nature of your very existence. This need for acknowledgement from others is an intensely human emotion and should not be dismissed as a fault. It should, however, be explored. I think, dear reader, that you will find the only truly satisfactory acknowledgement from others is that which springs forth from your own achievements.

Likewise, question why you need to receive a feeling of pride and satisfaction from your baseball team. If you are pushing for the Mariners to win a championship because you need your loyalty to pay off, it is worth questioning the very nature of loyalty. The answers you find when you ask these questions may surprise you. They will likely lead you down a path of true personal fulfillment.

In short, you are not the Mariners. The Mariners are not you. Now, go forth into the world and achieve for yourself what your baseball team cannot!

Even if They Win a World Series, Some Day the Mariners Will Suck Again

Just because no team has ever reached the World Series and continued to get back to the World Series every year for their rest of their existence doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen. The odds are pretty against it though. Take the New York Yankees as an example. Despite missing the World Series this year, making the 2010s the last decade since the 1910s that the franchise has failed to reach a World Series, they have still played in 28.5 percent of all World Series ever played. This despite not reaching the World Series for he firs time until 1921, an 18-year streak if you’re keeping score at home. The Yankees have been nearly a constant presence in the World Series. But even they don’t get there every year. Sometimes, they don’t even make the playoffs. What hope is there for the rest of us?

MLB: ALCS-New York Yankees at Houston Astros Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Picture it: the year is 2022. The Mariners have just celebrated their first World Series appearance. To top it off, they won! The first new banner to be raised above right field in 20 years! Incredible. You feel on top of the world. You feel like you have Won.

Just as suddenly the year is 2028. The Mariners have struggled to reach the postseason since that glorious victory in ’22. You think back longingly on that World Series run. It feels like it just happened. And yet, it feels like it never happened. You look ahead to next season and wonder what moves the Mariners could possibly make to be a .500 team, let alone a contender. You sigh. It was fun while it lasted. But this mood of apathy and disappointment, this feels familiar. You have come home.

You Don’t Have to Be a Mariners Fan

This last point may be the most important. I understand it can feel a little bit like complaining about a frustrating aspect of your job and being told, “Well, why don’t you just quit?” when you like most of your job, and it does bring some amount of satisfaction. I want to acknowledge that first before I dive in here.

Unless you receive a check twice a month from the Baseball Club of Seattle, or work for one of their vendors, or provide some ancillary service directly tied to the team, the Mariners are not your job. They are your hobby. Hobbies are incredibly important. They can give us a sense of pride, accomplishment, and joy. If your hobby is affecting the rest of your life in a negative way, it may be time to assess whether that is really the right hobby for you.

For some of you, you may think on this and realize the Mariners just aren’t for you. That’s okay! If you still want to enjoy baseball, there are 29 other teams you can check out. Best of luck for champagne showers and World Series trophies!

For the rest of you, maybe you’re the same as me. Maybe the misery and despair feed your soul and make you happy. Choose to be a Mariners fan and embrace everything that comes with it. Breathe in the misery. Let it envelope your being.

Feels good, doesn’t it?