Following Wednesday’s crazy events with the Seahawks firing both their offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, I was asked if their current situation after missing the playoffs for the first time since 2011 reminded me of any other teams in Seattle sports history. It does.
The 2000 Seattle Mariners team almost got it done. They made it to the playoffs and knocked off the White Sox in the Division Series before falling to New York Yankees in the AL championship series. And yet, when that season ended there was a feeling of unease about the franchise. I thought that maybe they had missed their window of success.
Ken Griffey Jr. had been traded to Cincinnati a year earlier, and the Mariners had set their focus on re-signing their great young starting shortstop, Alex Rodriguez. He was just 24 and still a player on the upswing. But an important thing to note was that the Mariners’ core was showing some signs of aging. Jay Buhner was 36. Edgar Martinez and Jamie Moyer were 38. Even John Olerud was 32.
Then in January, the Mariners were stunned to learn that while A-Rod would be staying in the AL West, it would be with the rival Texas Rangers. The Mariners made a few moves with minor fanfare, such as bringing back second baseman Bret Boone for a second tour of duty with the team and taking a flier on a Japanese position player named Ichiro Suzuki. But the core of the team was players over 30, and the concern was that without A-Rod in the middl e of the lineup they wouldn’t be able to score enough runs.
Well, we all know what happened. Those core veterans like Martinez, Olerud and Moyer had monster seasons, and Boone made a run at AL MVP. He might have won the award if it wasn’t for Ichiro, who joined Fred Lynn as the only players ever to be Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same year. Young Freddy Garcia became the ace at 24, and a team most thought had missed its window set an AL record with 116 wins.
And it all happened under Lou Piniella, who had turned the franchise around after taking over in 1993, creating a winning culture and establishing himself as one of the top managers in the game.
It was a total surprise, but the Mariners were a veteran team that was used to winning. Kind of like the Seahawks.