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One Seattle team punches its playoff ticket

It’s a start

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Seattle Mariners Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

It’s over! It’s finally over.

Twenty-one oft-interminable years removed from their record-setting regular season, 21 years after their last appearance in American League Championship Series, two decades and a year suffering through a drought that felt more like a curse, the Seattle Mariners have rejoined the playoffs. Granted, the ride has been bumpy at times — even at the start of July Seattle still sat below .500 — but all that matters is that the M’s will be one of 12 teams competing for the World Series when the postseason begins on October 7th.

And they got there in Seahawky fashion too. This is on a 3-2 pitch with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning of a tied game. Storybook stuff, really.

The Mariners had the longest postseason drought among all four major North American men’s pro sports leagues — MLB, NFL, NBA, and NHL. After nearly pulling off an unlikely playoff berth last year, they’ve formally taken the next step that had eluded them for so long by beating the Oakland Athletics in front of a raucous T-Mobile Park crowd. (Raucous might be understating it. Use your own word, if you were there.)

To put this moment into a more Seahawks-specific context, the Houston Texans hadn’t played a game yet and the Seahawks were still in the AFC West the last time the Mariners were involved in playoff baseball. On that particular day the Seahawks were trounced 38-14 by the Oakland Raiders in Brock Huard’s final appearance as Seattle’s quarterback.

It’s been a damn long time, is what I’m saying. Here’s how a few Seahawks reacted.

Under the newly expanded playoff rules, the wild card round best-of-3 format is played exclusively in one ballpark. So if Seattle can finish the final week of the regular season with a better record than the Toronto Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays, they will host up to three games at T-Mobile Park. If not? Then they’ll be exclusively on the road for the wild card series. It’s cool that the drought is over, but it’d be cooler if a playoff-starved fanbase could be guaranteed at least two home games to attend.

The new MLB format mimics the NFL’s old double-bye, wild-card winners advance to face the better seeds format that served football so well for so long. Just in time for the Mariners to crash the party.