The last time the Mariners made the playoffs, I was in 8th grade. Just a teenage kid who thought, somewhat foolishly, that the Mariners were going to see sustained success. 95, 97, 00, 01. Why wouldn't you think that? Yet, there I sat 21 years later, my heart full of joy at knowing that the streak was over and they would be heading to the playoffs.
Part of me still didn't accept it though. The Mariners were going to need to get through the best of three game series against the Blue Jays for me to truly accept that they were in the playoffs. Say what you will about it being in the postseason, there will always be a part of me that doesn't fully believe that the best of 3 counts 100%.
Believe me, I'm getting there. You waited 20 years for the playoffs. You can read 250 words before I get to the point.
When the Mariners pre-sale went on for tickets, I was sitting there on my computer ready to buy tickets so a group of us could go. Just to make sure (as every smart husband does), I checked with my wife to make sure we didn't have anything planned. Middle of October. Can't be anything big, right?
"We are going to Montana for a wedding, remember?"
Oh. That's right. The Mariners were going to the playoffs for the first time in 20+ years, and I wasn't even going to be in the state.
Which brings us to Game 3 of the ALDS. Mariners vs Astros
We get back from all the wedding festivities, as a handful of us had been sitting around at the bar drinking (we had a DD, no worries) and watching the game on our phones. Remember, it's Montana. Bars didn't have the game on because, well, it's the Mariners. Why would they?
Anyway, we head back and get back to the cabin we are staying at. It's the 7th or 8th inning. "Hey, let's sit and watch the rest of the game before we go do anything else". Sounds innocent enough, as even though it was 0-0, you wouldn't expect the game to go past the 10th or 11th inning.
Yet, there we sat, inning after inning and beer after beer, more and more of the wedding party getting invested in the game. With only a handful of Mariners fans, it started with just 2-3 of us actually watching the game. Others were milling around, but eventually everyone was drawn in to the TV. Games like this don't happen often. I don't mean an 18 inning postseason game. I mean those special games, where you can just tell that there is something in the air. It's a nearly indescribale feeling. Yet, anyone who has witnessed one of those games knows exactly what I'm talking about.
Every inning, it truly felt like that was going to be the inning that the Mariners ended the game. You would expect it, even with an offense with holes, that nine opportunities (9th inning through 17th inning) would eventually result in one run that would win the game.
Anyone here reading this knows about the game. It's up there for me because of the experience. The memories. Yeah, the Mariners lost, but it was an incredible game. I'll always remember where I was, who I was with, and what happened in the game. If not for Julio hitting the ball too hard, the Mariners would've seen a walkoff homer that day. Instead, we sit here reminiscing about the season up to that point, and looking forward to 2023.