What a weekend to be a Mariners fan

Posted on October 5th, 2021 By:

SEATTLE — The Seattle Mariners hold the longest current postseason drought in all of professional sports. Twenty years. As a longtime M’s fan, it has been a brutal couple of decades. Last weekend, however, T-Mobile Park sizzled with a playoff atmosphere unseen or felt since the turn of the century.

Fans wave placards of "Believe," the Mariners motto during their playoff chase.

Fans wave placards stating “Believe,” the Mariners’ motto during their playoff chase. Photo courtesy of Ben VanHouten/Seattle Mariners

Entering Friday, the Mariners and Boston were knotted for the second wild card spot. With playoff hopes still alive in the final days, sellout crowds of more than 44,000 fans packed the stadium Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

After a Friday loss to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim coupled with a Red Sox victory, the Mariners faced a must-win situation Saturday. Along with 44,000 thunderous fans, I was lucky enough to attend. The atmosphere was like nothing I’d ever experienced.

Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager receives an ovation from the crowd in the ninth inning Sunday.

Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager receives an ovation from the crowd in the ninth inning Sunday. Photo courtesy of Ben VanHouten/Seattle Mariners

Mariners right fielder Mitch Haniger went 4-for-5 and drove in five runs to carry Seattle almost singlehandedly to a 6-4 victory. With the Mariners trailing 4-3 in the eighth inning, his two-out, two-run single ensured Seattle would play meaningful baseball on the final day of the regular season.

The crowd went berserk. “I believe, I believe,” they chanted the Mariners’ stretch-drive motto. Smelly garlic fries and a $12 beer never tasted better. Of the hundreds of Mariners games I’ve attended, none surpassed Saturday’s.

Pandemonium erupted outside the stadium as if the M’s had won the World Series. Fans danced and screamed in the streets. It’s good that I can write about the experience, because I wore out my voice.

Mariners fans hold yellow Believe placards at T-Mobile Field

Mariners fans sold out T-Mobile Park for three weekend games that saw Seattle fall one game short of reaching the playoffs. Photo courtesy of Ben VanHouten/Seattle Mariners

Sunday, I returned. Again, the crowd was charged, despite many partying into the night and having to rebound for a noontime first pitch. Seattle again needed a win and a Yankees or Red Sox loss to play another day. Unfortunately, the Mariners fell 7-3, but would’ve missed the playoffs by a game anyway as both New York and Boston rallied for victories.

Still, Seattle won 90 games, much more than anyone expected, and the future looks bright. The experience was something I’ll never forget, and I hope in the next few years that Mariners fans will finally enjoy the playoff experience we’ve all waited too long for.

(Kevin Doucette, who normally can be found on these pages covering high school sports for Gig Harbor Now, got caught up like many locals in the Mariners’ final-weekend playoff run.)