Ken Griffey Jr. played in 22 seasons. He’s one of the most accomplished Major League outfielders of all time. He’s most associated with the rise of baseball in Seattle, from a mere afterthought to making this a Baseball City (even though you and I know this will always be a Football City). And yet, in all those seasons, he was only a member of three playoff teams.
There’s 1995, obviously, where the Mariners got to within a couple games of the World Series. Then, there was 1997, where the Mariners won a total of one playoff game. Then, after the 1999 season, he forced a trade to the Cincinnati Reds … where they NEVER made the playoffs with Griffey on the roster. Nine years!
Obviously, part of the blame goes squarely on Griffey himself. Had he stayed with the Mariners, maybe those teams in 2000 and 2001 still make the playoffs. Hell, MAYBE those teams in 2000 and 2001 go to the World Series. We’ll never know, because he forced his way out. Anyway you slice it, though, if we had a healthy & happy Ken Griffey Jr. on those teams, it would’ve been a considerable step up from Mike Cameron. And that’s saying something, because I really liked Cammy!
Junior didn’t make the playoffs again until 2008, when he was traded to the White Sox and they lost in the first round. The Reds didn’t make the playoffs again until 2010, where they also lost in the first round. Junior is a First-Ballot Hall of Famer, but he’s one of the unluckiest guys in the world. For all the injuries he sustained, preventing him from being the best player in baseball history, and for all the shitty teams he was on. I mean, 8 of the 9 Reds teams he was on had losing records! 7 of the 13 Mariners teams he was on had losing records as well. That’s a lot of failure for someone who deserved much better.
It’s tough finding a lot of “great” Mariners for this list. Let’s face it, most of the great Mariners enjoyed quite a bit of success. You can’t throw guys like Edgar or Wilson or Bone on this list, because they were here for all the playoff runs. And you can’t throw someone like Randy on this list, because he went on to have tremendous success after leaving this team.
However, there HAD to have been some quality players from the 80s to throw on this list! Like, Alvin Davis for one. Mr. Mariner! He played 8 seasons in Seattle, and only once had a winning record. He played 9 seasons total, finishing his career as a California Angel, and not once ever made the playoffs.
Harold Reynolds was another. 10 seasons in Seattle, only one winning record (that 1991 season is such a tease!); 12 seasons in the Majors, not one playoff appearance.
Jim Presley was another decently good Mariner, with 6 seasons in Seattle (no winning records) and 8 seasons in the Majors (no playoff appearances). These are kind of the obvious names that come to mind when I think about the Mariners in the 80s. I’m sure there are some other quality M’s out there, but not too damn many (because if there were, we’d be talking about teams that actually won some ballgames).
There’s one other player I KINDA want to put on this list, but his later career in Philadelphia disqualifies him.
When I was thinking of a list of players, Raul Ibanez popped into my head. He started his career in Seattle, in the Good Ol’ Days, but he rarely got a chance to play. Then, he signed with Kansas City where he became a bona fide Major League hitter. Then, he came BACK to Seattle on a five year deal where we only had one winning season. To that point, through the 2008 season, Ibanez had been involved in 13 Major League seasons, but only got a single taste of playoff baseball. In 2000. Mostly as a pinch hitter with the Mariners.
Then, after the 2008 season, he signed almost immediately with the Phillies and proceeded to make the playoffs in three straight years. In 2009, they lost in the World Series to the Yankees. In 2010, they lost in the NLCS to the Giants. In 2011, they lost in the NLDS to the Cardinals. That’s some hard luck, but the point is, those were some good teams! He capped it off with a stint in New York in 2012, where the Yankees made it to the ALCS before being swept away by the Tigers. So, we’re talking about four consecutive playoff appearances. You can’t say Ibanez didn’t have a chance at glory. No one is feeling sorry for the guy, even if he is back in a Mariners uniform in 2013.
If we were simply talking about Raul Ibanez: Seattle Mariner, then yeah, he would qualify for the list. 2013 makes 11 seasons with the Mariners, with only one playoff appearance to show for it. But, his career away from this black hole takes him out of the realm of the truly depressed. Indeed, it provided him with a career he can look back on fondly.