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Mariners now have longest playoff drought in four major sports

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The NFL’s Buffalo Bills ended their playoff drought, dating back to 1999, when they won their final regular season game against the Dolphins on Sunday. They also needed the Ravens to lose to the Bengals in order to sneak into the AFC Wild Card game. As a result, MLB’s Seattle Mariners now have the longest playoff drought in the four major professional sports, as Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times notes.

In 2001, the last time the Mariners reached the postseason, the club won a record-tying 116 games during the regular season. After just barely escaping the Indians in the ALDS, going all five games, the Mariners were stopped in their tracks by the Yankees in the ALCS, dropping four of five games. They haven’t been seen in postseason play since.

What was life like back in 2001? George W. Bush was President and, of course, there were the 9/11 attacks. The iPhone hadn’t been invented yet; people were using flip phones and those awful Nokias. Windows XP was released near the end of 2001. Microsoft unveiled the Xbox; Nintendo released the GameCube. Enron had their scandal in 2001, which led the Astros to rebrand their stadium as Minute Maid Park in 2002. Bryce Harper was nine years old in 2001; Mike Trout was 10. The first Legally Blonde movie was released, as was Shrek. What a year.

The Mariners have had some good teams in the time since, but the AL West was very competitive in the early 2000’s. In 2002, the Mariners won 93 games and finished in third place! From 2008 to 2012 — the last year the AL West had only four teams — the Mariners finished in last place four times in five seasons. They had two more fourth-place finishes and a third place finish from 2013-15 after the Astros joined the division. After a front office overhaul, the Mariners improved to 86 wins and a second-place finish in 2016, but mustered only 78 wins and ended the year in third place in 2017.

Will the Mariners make the playoffs in 2018? FanGraphs is projecting an 81-81 record. The Astros are expected to win the AL West while the Yankees and Angels pick up the AL Wild Card slots. These projections, of course, are far from sacrosanct as any number of things could happen during the season to improve the Mariners’ fortune. But it seems realistic. After all, the Mariners are playing in the same division as the defending World Series champions as well as a team that has Mike Trout, retained Justin Upton, and added Shohei Ohtani, Zack Cozart, and Ian Kinsler. Odds are in favor of the Mariners extending their playoff drought to 17 years.

Cards’ Yadier Molina says he tested positive for COVID-19

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St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina says he’s one of the players on the team who tested positive for COVID-19.

The nine-time All-Star revealed his results Tuesday in a Spanish-language Instagram post. Soon afterward, the Cardinals issued a release naming six of the players who have tested positive.

The others are infielders Paul DeJong, Edmundo Sosa and Rangel Ravelo along with pitchers Junior Fernandez and Kodi Whitley.

“I am saddened to have tested positive for COVID-19, even after adhering to safety guidelines that were put in place,” Molina said in a release issued by the team. “I will do everything within my power to return as soon as possible for Cardinals fans, the city of St. Louis and my teammates.”

Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said Monday that seven players and six staff members had tested positive. At the time, Mozeliak said the people to test positive hadn’t been identified publicly because they had declined to have their names released.

The Cardinals said Tuesday that six players had decided to grant permission to have their names revealed.

“I will approach my healing as I do all other things in my life – with education, commitment, and persistence. I look forward to re-joining the team soon and ask that you respect my privacy at this time,” DeJong said in a statement released by the team.

The outbreak resulted in the postponement of the Cardinals’ scheduled three-game weekend series at Milwaukee as well as a four-game series with Detroit that was supposed to run Monday through Thursday. The Cardinals have played just five games this season and are hoping to return to action Friday hosting the Chicago Cubs.

As of now, the Cardinals who have tested positive have returned home while the rest of the team remains isolated in Milwaukee hotel rooms. Their last game was July 29 at Minnesota.

Mozeliak said Monday that five of the 13 overall members of the Cardinals’ traveling party to test positive were asymptomatic. The other eight had minor symptoms including headaches, coughs, sniffles and low-grade fevers. Mozeliak said none of the eight had required hospitalization.

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