M’s are on the verge of missing the playoffs for the 14th season. Before this season, the Blue Jays hadn’t been in 21 years.
ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Mariners are on the clock now.
When the Blue Jays clinched a postseason berth on Saturday with a 10-8 win over the Rays, they ended a 21-year postseason drought — the longest streak in baseball and all professional sports.
Toronto is still competing with the Yankees for the all-important American League East title.
The last time the Blue Jays appeared in the postseason was in 1993, when they won their second straight World Series on Joe Carter’s walk-off homer off of Mitch Williams. Now the longest active streak without a playoff appearance in baseball belongs to the Mariners at 14 years.
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Yep, 2001 seems like an eternity ago for the Mariners and their fans. That was the magical season. They won 116 games, but were knocked off in the American League Championship Series in five games to the Yankees.
To put that in perspective, Lloyd McClendon was in his first year of managing with the Pirates and Taijuan Walker was 9 years old.
Another postseason appearance seemed immediately expected after 2001, but 93 wins in 2002 and 2003 weren’t good enough to even earn a wild-card spot.
And then everything fell apart in 2004 with a 63-99 record and the firing of manager Bob Melvin.
Since then Seattle hasn’t really sniffed the postseason. There were just three winning seasons after the 2003 season — 2007, 2009 and 2014. Of those three winning seasons, the best shot at the postseason came last year when the Mariners finished a game out of the new playoff set-up featuring a second wild card.
This season was supposed to break that drought. The addition of Nelson Cruz to a team that finished so close was supposed to put them over the top. Instead, Seattle was eliminated from the American League West division race on Friday night and will be knocked out of playoff contention in the next couple of days.
The failures of this season led to the firing of general manager Jack Zduriencik. And the realization that the Mariners weren’t going to be in the postseason was a major reason.
“Clearly, we have to get better,” said team president Kevin Mather after Zduriencik was fired. “ Our last playoff game was in 2001. It’s not that we have lack of resources. There’s no reason this team isn’t competing year in and year out for postseason baseball.”
The Marlins are two years behind the Mariners in postseason droughts at 12 seasons. But that franchise has won two World Series, something the Mariners haven’t done. The Astros could end their nine-year streak this season if they can secure the second wild card or win the AL West.
The only longer postseason drought streak in the four major professional sports belongs to the Buffalo Bills, who haven’t made a postseason appearance in 15 seasons. The Raiders and Browns have gone 12 years without playoff appearances. In the NBA, the Timberwolves have the longest drought at 11 seasons. In the NHL, the Oilers haven’t been to the playoffs in nine season.
Brewers name David Stearns as new GM
The youth movement at general manager continued with the Brewers hiring 30-year-old David Stearns to replace Doug Melvin, who is resigning after the season. The search process took just under six weeks with the help of the search firm, Korn Ferry.
Milwaukee’s original list of candidates had 44 names on it. But they went with Stearns, who served as assistant general manager for the Astros, working for GM Jeff Luhnow.
Will he follow the plan Luhnow had in Houston and lower payroll to take advantage of losing seasons for draft picks?
“It was very challenging,” he said at his news conference. “Losing to that extent does take a toll. Each situation is unique. This situation is different. This is not the same team, the same structure, the same city. I would expect this type of process to be different.”
He outlined his overall plan to rebuilding the Brewers.
“The philosophy of building a sustainable playoff team is not a secret,” he said. “You need to acquire, develop and keep controllable, young talent,” he said. “If you look at the sustainably competitive teams throughout the industry, regardless of market size and city, that’s what they have to do. You can’t build a team through free agency. Even the biggest-market team in baseball can’t do that. The trick is to develop a process and a system that allows you to constantly regenerate that pipeline even as you’re competitive at the major-league level.”
The Phillies, Angels and Mariners still have general-manager vacancies to fill.