Mariners Instant Reaction: 710 ESPN Seattle on M’s first 90-win season since 2003

Oct 3, 2021, 4:39 PM | Updated: 5:27 pm

Mariners Jarred Kelenic...

Jarred Kelenic of the Seattle Mariners reacts after his RBI single during the second inning against the Los Angeles Angels at T-Mobile Park on Sunday. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Seattle Mariners went into the final day of the 2021 season with a chance still alive for them to force a 163rd game. In the end, the Mariners neither received the help they needed nor came through themselves in a must-win game against Angels on Sunday.

M’s lose to Angels 7-3, bid to end playoff drought falls short

The M’s fell 7-3 to the Angels, that conclusion happening minutes after Boston beat Washington and the Yankees walked off the Rays to eliminate Seattle from postseason contention. It was still a wildly successful season for a young team just three seasons into a rebuild, as the Mariners went 90-72 for the franchise’s first 90-win season since 2003.

We enlisted some of the voices of 710 ESPN Seattle to share their instant reactions after Sunday’s game. See what they have to say here, and listen to 710 ESPN Seattle all day Monday for reaction to the Mariners’ season.

Bob Stelton – Wyman and Bob

I hate how the season ended and I can’t believe it’s already over, but I absolutely loved this season! I had more fun watching this Mariners team than any in recent memory. This team won 90 games and was in the playoff mix until Game 162. Can you believe that? That is a minor miracle!

Think about what the realistic expectations were for this team coming into the year. Their biggest offseason acquisition, James Paxton, was lost for the year after 24 pitches. Defending Rookie of Year Kyle Lewis played in just 36 games before being lost for the rest of the year. Thrown in injuries to Justin Dunn, Justus Sheffield, Evan White, Nick Margevicius, etc.

Even before spring training started, M’s management were doing their best to let us (the fans) know that this season wasn’t about wins and losses as much as it was about taking the first step in a rebuild and developing the youth. Every expert/analyst was predicting a losing season. The offseason moves, or lack thereof, showed you that this was not a team expected to compete for a spot in the postseason. The moves or, again, lack thereof at the trade deadline sent the same message. But somehow this group put together the most exciting, hopeful, emotional season we have seen since 1995. Because like 1995, it was completely unexpected and that is what made it so much fun to follow.

They won more one-run games than any other team in MLB. It felt like there were a million edge of your seat, white-knuckle moments throughout the season and I loved every single one of them!

We can look back at all of the moments/games and say “if only they did this,” “if only Servais had done that,” but you can do that in any season where you don’t win it all. They won 90 games! I’m sure there are more games we could look at and say “How in the heck did they pull that one out?”

Watching this city explode with excitement and hope in the final homestand was amazing. Seeing people dancing in the streets outside of T-Mobile Park after the big win in Game 161 was an image that gave me chills. It’s also an image that should send ownership a strong message: this fan base is starving for a winner, and they’ll support a winner.

There is plenty of time this offseason to talk about who they need to go after in free agency and trades. The one thing that is certain in my opinion is ownership has to go after it in a real way. Enough with the bargain shopping, or as I call them, “duct tape guys.” Spend the money to support your developing, young crop of players. The guys in that clubhouse deserve that, and more importantly this fan base deserves it. Ownership received a gift in a season that nobody expected: a re-energized fan base. Do not waste that momentum by going cheap. Build on on it and perhaps what we saw at the end of this season will become more of the norm and not an anomaly.

Mike Salk – The Mike Salk Show

The dream season and its emotional final weekend came to an end with the Mariners winning 90 games for the first time since 2003. In the process, they became just the fifth team in baseball history to win 90 games but miss the playoffs. There’s no consolation in the moment, but it helps to know that their Sunday loss was meaningless (due to the Red Sox and Yankees wins) and their future is as bright as it’s been in decades.

Sometimes the best teams need a preview year to whet the appetite. The Seahawks in 2012 falling just short in Atlanta comes to mind. They’re good but not quite ready to win just yet. And while the Seahawks went out and acquired two pass-rushers in the ensuing offseason to add to their talented young core, the Mariners will need to do that and then some. The Astros, White Sox, Rays, Yankees and Red Sox aren’t going anywhere, and the Mariners need more weapons to compete with those teams. This will be the biggest offseason in decades for the Mariners. They have the young nucleus but need an All-Star-level talent to replace Kyle Seager, solid veteran bats to complement the youth, and a top-of-the-rotation arm that can take the pressure off the rest of the staff.

This season was a resounding success as the Mariners split the needle between winning and developing young players. This weekend was a success as well, an incredible bonding moment between a team and fan base that needed to be reintroduced. Now this offseason needs to be even more successful. It’s time to go.

The Groz – 710 ESPN Seattle host emeritus

It was a fun but ultimately disappointing weekend for the Seattle Mariners, though the future looks extremely bright.

You kind of had a feeling when they lost Friday that it was not to be. Then when they fell behind late in the second game, I imagine a lot of people were thinking “same old Mariners,” but then suddenly they weren’t. Mitch Haniger exemplified why this team feels different. His huge game – heck, huge season – was as surprising as the year was for the Mariners.

What I found most encouraging was after many years of being dormant, the Mariners fan base reminded everyone that Seattle can be one heck of a baseball town. It was exciting to see the three sellouts this weekend. I think people realized that something special is at last brewing again. Obviously it was the last game for Kyle Seager, who had a big year, but even with the influx of young talent, Haniger remains an important piece.

Some well-spent dollars on the rotation, bullpen and an infielder, and you appear to have the pieces to contend for a while. This year was the closest the Mariners have been in 20 years. The postseason drought should end next year.

Justin Barnes – The Mike Salk Show

Winnin’ ain’t easy.

The phrase “all good things must come to an end” implies there is a beginning, and my fellow Mariners fans, that beginning is here. Anybody who has played sports knows the physical and emotional weight of playing a string of must-win games for an extended period of time. It’s like spending a week in Vegas and thinking you’re going to be able to withstand a party every night. It takes a toll.

I’ll be the first to say that I’m sad that we didn’t see Seager wearing goggles while J.P. Crawford poured some bubbly liquid over his head, and yes I teared up during the “KY-LE SEA-GER” chants as he came off the field in the top of the ninth. And I await the day manager Scott Servais is carried off the field on the players’ shoulders while tears stream down his – and my – face. I want it so bad.

This 2021 team has shown a lot of things: commitment, trust, and resilience, to name a few. But what we’ve seen from a season of pure Chaos Ball is that the sweet taste of September is something we should be prepared to experience for a long time. Don’t let falling short this year influence how you view the future, and stop anybody from shouting “same old Mariners” after today. You have to appreciate that they outperformed expectations. Winning 90 games is a lot, and winning isn’t easy. It’s time to keep believing for real.

Mike Lefko – Wyman and Bob

Shohei Ohtani let us know right away it was not going to be an easy day, and perhaps it was for the best that both the Red Sox and Yankees won and we didn’t have to deal with the “what if” all offseason.

This might have been the year the Mariners surprised and arrived a year early if everything broke right, but to have nearly everything go wrong on the injury front and still be a 90-win team is an incredible testament to the coaches and players who came into their own this season. The 33 one-run wins, the emergence of J.P. Crawford as the heart and soul of the team, Mitch Haniger and Ty France in the middle of the lineup, and the bullpen that became a lockdown force night in and night out. There doesn’t seem much to be sad about with the tantalizing promise of the future, save for the poignant scene of watching Kyle Seager walk off the field for what appears to be his last game in a Mariners uniform.

There will be plenty of time for long season-ending retrospectives, looks ahead to next year, and projections on what needs to happen during a fascinating Hot Stove, but that’s for later. Today, take some time to appreciate the wild and joyous ride the Mariners took us on this season, when meaningful October baseball was played, and a team captivated the heart and soul of this city once again. Plus, we’ll always have Dylan Moore’s grand slam against the Astros and the 12-game win streak over the A’s!

Mariners’ Mitch Haniger: 2021 ‘the most fun playing baseball I’ve had’

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