Open Mic: 2001 Seattle Mariners Were One of Sports' Biggest Letdowns

Stuart MahoneyCorrespondent IJune 14, 2008

It seemed at times that they didn't know how to lose.

2001 was automatically going to be a special year for baseball in Seattle, because the Mariners were already slated to host the All-Star Game that year.  But the Mariners went above and beyond the normal expectations that Major League Baseball sets for its All-Star hosts.

They provided their own All-Star team.

When I saw the standings one fine spring morning, and saw that the Mariners were off to a 31-9 start, I knew that this team was going to be something special, something historical, something unforgettable.

This team won every series except four: 3 losses (including being swept only once), and a tie against Texas.  They also had a 15-game winning streak at one point.  That means that this team won every game for over two weeks. Considering how often baseball games are played, that is a remarkable accomplishment.

When the All-Star game arrived in July, eight members of the American League squad were hometown Seattle Mariners. They included four starters, one of whom was center fielder Ichiro Suzuki, who went on to win Rookie of the Year and MVP awards that year.

By the end of the season, the Mariners had won 116 regular-season games, tying the Major League record (1906 Cubs), and setting a new record in the American League (previously 114 by the 1998 Yankees). It seemed inevitable that the Mariners were going on to World Series glory.

But then the playoffs came.

Trouble was in the air, as it took a full five games for Seattle to scrape by the Cleveland Indians to get into the ALCS. In the ALCS the New York Yankees simply dominated Seattle in five games en route to winning their fourth consecutive American League pennant. 

So once again, the hopes of Seattle sports fans and their desire to bring Seattle another major-league sports championship were crushed. The city hadn't seen this kind of disappointment since the 1996 SuperSonics lost in the NBA Finals, and wouldn't see again until the 2006 Seahawks would lose Super Bowl XL.

It was magic; the 2001 Mariners were truly a great team: a team with chemistry, a team that was very fun to watch, a team that captivated a nation. It is just too bad that their magic ran out a couple weeks to early to win the World Series.