Saturday, September 21, 2013

And then there were two...

                                        Somehow, the Washington Nationals are still in the playoff hunt.  Barring a miracle, the franchise will finish it's 45th year still never having won a pennant.  In fact, last years team was the first in 31 years to even make the playoffs.  Of course, that was back when they were known as the Montreal Expos, coming within an inning of beating the Los Angeles Dodgers, who would go on to win the '81 World Series in six games over the Yankees.  The only other time they came close since then was the '94 season when they had the best record in baseball at 70-40 before the strike's been often said the Expos were a cursed franchise, as their two best seasons were strike years.  They were able to survive after the first strike, but the '94 one-in which the World Series was cancelled for the first time in ninety years- seriously hurt baseball in Canada.

                   Somewhere in the early '00s, the Expos lost their television contract.  Worse yet, they started playing half of their home games in Puerto Rico.  By the time that started, they didn't even have a proper owner; Major League baseball owned the team and Frank Robinson was managing was only a matter of time before MLB baseball in Quebec was doomed...eventually, in 2005, Washington swooped in and gave the city it's first professional team in 34 years.  As for any sort of hall of fame legacy, only Gary Carter went into the hall wearing an Expos cap (Andre Dawson went in as a Cub, despite playing most of his career in Montreal.)

            The Nationals have company in the pennant futility chase; the Seattle Mariners.  When the American league decided to expand in'77, both the Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays made their debuts.  However,  the Blue Jays would make the playoffs in their ninth year of existence, and win their first of two championships seven years later...meanwhile the Mariners are still waiting.  With their trident/pitchfork logos on their hats, and their (literally) atmosphereless  home known as the Kingdome, the Mariners had to go through the Rupert Jones' and Pat Putnams of the world before they put a great team on the field in 1995.  That year, with the help from future hall of famers Randy Johnson, Junior Griffey, Edgar Martinez, et.all, they ended 19 years of futility and made it to the ALCS, losing to the Cleveland Indians.

                         Seattle would make it to the ALCS again in 2001, with help from a 28 year old rookie named Ichiro Suzuki... losing again, this time to the Yankees.  Since then, it's been mostly rebuilding, but things seem to be looking up...although, if pressed, I would say Washington is closer to a pennant than Seattle is.  Mariners need a little more power, especially from their corner infielders...I wonder if A-Rod will be available soon...

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