I want to go back to 2004, when the Boston Red Sox broke the Curse of the Bambino – a stretch of 86 years without winning a World Series.
And specifically: HOW they broke that curse.
The way the Red Sox came back from a three-games-to-none deficit against the Yankees in the American League Championship Series that year was one for the ages. Next to impossible, most fans would say. They were dead to rights in Game 4 when somehow they tied it up against the best closer in the game, Mariano Rivera, and won it in 12 innings. They came back from two runs down in the eighth inning of Game 5 and survived in 14 innings.
Then the infamous bloody sock game with Curt Schilling in Game 6.
That curse was broken in one of the most spectacular fashions of all time.
Which brings me to the Mariners in 2022.
I’m not saying the M’s are about to win the World Series, but I am saying that what is happening right now reminds me of the incomprehensible way the Red Sox broke that curse in 2004. The Mariners have the longest playoff-less streak in the Big Four professional sports leagues in this country. And just one month ago, no one in their right mind believed they even had a chance to break that 21-year streak without reaching the postseason.
The current 14-game winning streak is the second-longest streak in franchise history, short only to the 15-game winning streak that came in their winningest season of 2001 – the last time this franchise was in the playoffs.
There’s an appropriate symmetry that if this was somehow going to be the year that they finally break through again and make the playoffs, it’s in a season with this kind of unimaginable and unthinkable run. A season when the overwhelming majority, including myself, had basically written those chances off. Where it felt like only an act of god could somehow get this team back into contention.
We’ll never know whether the brawl in Anaheim a few weeks ago was the catalyst the Mariners needed to galvanize as a team and start this run. But I do know that it came at a time when they were going nowhere fast.
I realize that there are still a few months to go, and the momentum can shift as quickly as it began. But it would be fitting if this was the way a playoff-less streak ended. When no one expected it and no one saw it coming.
The best stories in sports are like that – a reason why the 2004 Red Sox comeback is as legendary as they come.
In the Mariners case, finally making the playoffs would certainly be a relief. But doing so in this fashion in particular would be that much sweeter to enjoy.