Despite finishing with their best record since 2003, the Seattle Mariners have once again failed to qualify for the postseason. Their postseason drought has now reached 20 years, the longest in North American pro sports. Seattle last reached the postseason in 2001, Ichiro's rookie year. They finished 90-72 this season.
To their credit, the Mariners were in the postseason race right until Game 162. They came into Sunday one game behind the Red Sox and Yankees for a wild-card spot, but the and , punching their tickets to October. Those wins eliminated the Mariners, who went on to drop Sunday's game to the Angels (LAA 7, SEA 3).
Here are the longest active postseason droughts in the four major men's North American sports:
- MLB: Seattle Mariners: 20 years (last qualified in 2001)
- NFL: New York Jets: 10 years (last qualified in 2010)
- NBA: Sacramento Kings: 15 years (last qualified in 2005-06)
- NHL: Buffalo Sabres: 10 years (last qualified in 2010-11)
Although missing the postseason again is surely disappointing, the Mariners appear well-positioned to contend in the near future. Top prospects Jarred Kelenic and Logan Gilbert arrived this year, Julio Rodríguez isn't far away, and others like JP Crawford, Ty France, and Chris Flexen established themselves as mainstays. It has been a long drought for Seattle, but better days are ahead.
The Phillies have the second-longest active postseason drought at 10 seasons. They last qualified in 2010. MLB is expected to expand the postseason field next season, possibly to 14 teams, with the new collective bargaining agreement. That will make avoiding long droughts a little easier moving forward.