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  • - On October 6th, 2001, the Seattle Mariners

  • won their one hundredth and sixteenth game

  • of the season.

  • They tied the MLB record

  • set by the 1906 Chicago Cubs

  • and broke the AL record of 114

  • set by the '98 Yankees,

  • a team widely considered one of the greatest

  • in MLB history.

  • And they achieved this mark in the wake

  • of losing three franchise icons.

  • At the 1998 trade deadline,

  • in the midst of a down year,

  • Seattle traded Cy Young award winner

  • Randy Johnson to the Astros.

  • In return the Mariners received

  • three important pieces to that 2001 team.

  • Shortstop Carlos Guillen as well as pitchers,

  • John Halama and Freddy Garcia.

  • The latter of which would make

  • the 2001 All-Star team.

  • After the 1999 season,

  • Pat Gillick was hired as GM

  • and given the duty of handling the future

  • of Ken Griffey Jr. and Alex Rodriguez,

  • both of whom were on expiring contracts

  • entering 2000.

  • Griffey was flipped to his hometown

  • Cincinnati Reds before the start of the season.

  • The returning package

  • included centerfielder, Mike Cameron,

  • who would go on to be an All-Star

  • and Gold Glove winner in 2001.

  • A-Rod played the year out,

  • a season in which he helped his team

  • battle the Yankees in the ALCS.

  • But they fell short and he walked in free agency.

  • But as one star walked out, another walked in.

  • Japanese phenom, Ichiro Suzuki

  • was headed for the states.

  • In Ichiro's 2001 rookie season,

  • he became the first player

  • in Major League Baseball history

  • to win MVP, Rookie of the Year, Silver Slugger,

  • a Gold Glove, and start in the All-Star game.

  • An All-Star game hosted by the city of Seattle.

  • And he appeared alongside seven other Mariners.

  • This historic team opened the post-season

  • against the Indians and were tested immediately,

  • dropping two of the first three games in the ALDS

  • But Freddy Garcia bounced back

  • from a game one loss

  • and aided by a three run seventh inning,

  • forced a game five,

  • a game in which Mark McLemore

  • hit a two run single in the second inning

  • to gain a lead

  • the Mariners would never relinquish.

  • - [Commentator] He's not hit lefties

  • well all year.

  • (cheering on television)

  • - [Commentator 2] How about that? Left field.

  • Pardova trapped it. Two runs in.

  • - Jamie Moyer, a stones throw away

  • from his 39th birthday,

  • kept the Indians' bats at bay

  • and Kazuhiro Sasaki closed the do or die win.

  • - [Commentator 2] And your winner...Seattle.

  • - [Mike] Seattle advanced to the ALCS

  • for the second consecutive year.

  • Once again, they faced the Yankees.

  • But this year the team was different.

  • And without spoiling anything,

  • I think everything's gonna work out.

  • Up against a Yankee's team

  • carrying the hope of a city

  • still reeling in the aftermath

  • of the September 11th attacks,

  • the Mariners lost their first two games at home.

  • Manager Lou Piniella guaranteed his Mariners

  • would win two of the next three games in New York

  • to bring the series back home,

  • but no one on this one hundred sixteen win team

  • ever played another post season game

  • in Seattle again.

  • In game four the Mariners entered

  • the bottom of the ninth tied at one.

  • Sasaki, the leagues runner up in saves

  • behind Yankees frame thrower Mariano Rivera

  • was on the mound.

  • But with one out and one on,

  • Alfonso Soriano came to the plate.

  • [Commentator] Swung on, hit high in the air

  • into deep right centerfield.

  • Back goes Ichiro, on the track,

  • at the wall, she's gone.

  • Alfonso Soriano wins the game

  • with a two run home run.

  • - [Mike] Game five wasn't even close

  • as the deflated Mariners

  • tumbled into the off season.

  • Heading into the 2002 season,

  • the Mariners lost a handful of players.

  • Most notably, the starting pitcher,

  • Aaron Sele, third baseman David Bell,

  • and Mariners legend, Jay Buhner,

  • who called it a career

  • after their postseason exit.

  • Sele, who signed with the Angels

  • was coming off a stellar year

  • and would be a difficult piece to replace.

  • They set their sight on

  • Giants pitcher, Jason Schmidt,

  • who is also coming off a solid '01 season.

  • But when Seattle refused to offer

  • anything more than a three year deal,

  • he resigned with the Giants.

  • The Mariners settled for

  • throwing a cheap deal at James Baldwin,

  • a massive downgrade on the mound.

  • Their focus on the bottom line

  • and hesitance to offer anyone

  • a contract longer than three years

  • became a theme of the season.

  • As for David Bell, an off season trade

  • sent him to San Francisco.

  • A move that was made once Seattle pried

  • former All-Star third baseman Jeff Cirillo

  • from Colorado.

  • But the move for Cirillo wasn't solely

  • to upgrade the hot corner.

  • It was in response to a contract impasse

  • with second baseman Bret Boone

  • who had finished the 2001 season,

  • third in MVP voting.

  • Seattle had offered Boone

  • a three year, twenty-two million dollar deal

  • which Boone deemed insufficient.

  • At the time the Mariners were owned

  • by Nintendo of America and Howard Lincoln

  • represented them as CEO of the team.

  • He was a business man and ran the team as such.

  • In reference to Boone's offer, he said,

  • And despite revenue numbers hitting

  • a hundred and seventy million dollars,

  • Lincoln used A-rod as an example

  • of where his priorities lie. Stating,

  • As a fan, that's not what you wanna hear.

  • But Boone eventually resigned

  • for an extra two million dollars

  • after failing to find the long term deal

  • he sought elsewhere.

  • Time for a championship.

  • With Boone on board, Seattle retained their core,

  • including all eight All-Stars

  • from the '01 campaign.

  • According to their reigning AL manager

  • of the year, Lou Piniella, they suddenly improved

  • When asked about following up

  • their one hundred and sixteen win season,

  • pitcher Paul Abbott said,

  • "We'll take ninety-five wins

  • and a world championship."

  • And they looked primed to do just that.

  • They put together a ten game win streak in April

  • and in May, Mike Cameron made baseball history

  • by hitting four home runs in one game.

  • The Mariners were firing on all cylinders.

  • - [Commentator 2] And that pitch is hit

  • to deep center field. Back goes Lofton.

  • To the track, to the wall, Cameron has done it.

  • - [Mike] But as the season went on,

  • it started to become clear that the Mariners

  • needed help to make a late season push.

  • Especially with newcomer Cirillo

  • not living up to expectations

  • and Baldwin being no replacement for Sele at all.

  • But with the budget in mind,

  • no major deals were made at the deadline.

  • Lincoln was quoted saying,

  • Let's put that on a tee shirt.

  • Edgar Martinez voiced his frustrations

  • with the lack of moves by ownership

  • especially while rivals such as Oakland

  • were making deals to set them up for a run

  • at the postseason.

  • But in the words of Howard Lincoln,

  • "I'm in the baseball business,

  • not the feel good business."

  • Around the deadline,

  • Lou Piniella stopped complaining,

  • reportedly due to a gag order.

  • Despite line-up concerns

  • the Mariners remained tied or in the lead

  • of their division from mid April

  • all the way till August 23rd.

  • It was then that Seattle,

  • tied for first with Oakland

  • entered a matchup with Cleveland.

  • A hundred and twenty consecutive games

  • on top of their division came to an end

  • in the bottom of the ninth.

  • With James Baldwin on the mound,

  • pitching out of the bullpen,

  • Josh Bard hit a walk-off home run.

  • - [Commentator 2] Deep to right, back goes Suzuki

  • at the track, at the wall, good-bye.

  • Josh Bard with a walk-off home run.

  • - [Mike] It was Bard's MLB debut.

  • One the Mariner's wouldn't forget

  • because they never got back on top.

  • Seattle was eliminated from postseason contention

  • a month later on September 26th,

  • following an Angels win over the Rangers

  • that clinched the wild card for Anaheim.

  • Along with a lack of meaningful deadline moves

  • and disappointing contributions

  • from off season acquisitions,

  • there was a decline in production

  • from some key members of the 2001 team.

  • Edgar Martinez was thirty-nine and after playing

  • a hundred and thirty-two games in '01,

  • he was limited to only ninety-seven in 2002

  • due to injuries.

  • In the late season slump,

  • saw his average plummet.

  • Paul Abbott, who went seventeen and four in 2001,

  • was demoted to the bullpen in April

  • and placed on the DL in May.

  • He finished 2002 with one win in five starts

  • and an eye-poppingly large ERA.

  • He was released at the end of the season.

  • Freddy Garcia who led the AL

  • in ERA the year before

  • added more than a full run to his ERA in 2002.

  • He still however made the All-Star team

  • for the second consecutive year.

  • Because the story of the 2002 Mariners

  • is not simply a failure to act

  • or a failure to produce,

  • it's also a heavily happened stance.

  • While battling for control

  • of the division in August,

  • their AL West foes in Oakland

  • were busy reeling off MLB's first

  • twenty game win streak since 1935.

  • On route to a one hundred and three win season.

  • Another division rival, the Angels

  • won sixteen of seventeen games

  • between late August and mid September

  • finishing ninety-nine and sixty-three,

  • good enough to win half the divisions

  • in the majors.

  • And blowing out the bridge

  • to the postseason behind them,

  • as they earned the wildcard spot,

  • leaving Seattle at the river's edge

  • with no life preserver.

  • In the off season, manager Lou Piniella

  • requested out of the final year of his contract

  • and hitched a ride to Tampa Bay.

  • Hired in his place,

  • was former Diamondbacks bench coach

  • and first time manager, Bob Melvin.

  • Again, the Mariners retained their core

  • and again they were formidable.

  • 2003 was their year. I can feel it.

  • Seattle had led their division