Advance tickets for the World Series were sent to Seattle Mariners season-ticket holders in 1995. (Nick Patterson / The Herald)

Advance tickets for the World Series were sent to Seattle Mariners season-ticket holders in 1995. (Nick Patterson / The Herald)

Patterson: As this World Series begins, M’s have hope again

Just like in 1995, Mariners fans can dream of soon playing on the biggest stage in baseball.

There’s a saying in English soccer, which was highlighted by the television show Ted Lasso, that goes: “It’s the hope that kills you.”

With the World Series beginning Friday between the Houston Astros and Philadelphia Phillies, Seattle Mariners fans can relate.

After an interminable 21-year wait during which hope was in short supply, it was back this fall like the piles of leaves accumulating underneath the deciduous trees. Cal Raleigh’s walk-off home run that clinched a playoff berth. The historic comeback against the Blue Jays to win their American League Wild Card Series. The Mariners had not only ended their postseason drought, they looked like a team of destiny.

It felt like 1995.

In the spirit of 1995, let me share a personal anecdote about the hope Mariners fans have been holding onto.

In 1995 my parents were partial Mariners season-ticket holders. They had good seats, just a few rows behind the visitors’ dugout on the first-base side — well, good seats when you adjust for the fact they were in the Kingdome. In the preceding years I attended many a late-season game in those seats, when the crowds were so small that there was no question about whether the visiting players heard our heckling as they trotted back from the field.

When Seattle went on a miraculous run to reach the 1995 playoffs the team sent playoff tickets to season-ticket holders. These were full sets that included tickets for every possible home playoff game from the Division Series all the way to the World Series. But for some reason they sent two sets, one that was the standard generic style and one that that was a decorative set. My dad distributed the generic set among the various parties who were a part of the full season ticket, then kept the decorative ones and had them framed.

So for years my parents had the first-ever World Series tickets printed for the Mariners — tickets that became null and void the moment Seattle lost to the then-Cleveland Indians in the ALCS — hanging on the wall of their house. A shrine to hope when often there was none.

Sure, there were flare-ups in 2000 — my parents no longer had season tickets by then, but they did reserve World Series tickets that again went unused and are still in their possession — and especially in 2001 when Seattle tied the major-league record by winning 116 games during the regular season. But for the most part those 1995 World Series tickets were more like a sneering kid thumbing his nose, rather than a reminder to keep hope alive.

Finally, after more than two decades of frustration, hope was back this year. Right up until Yordan Alvarez’s walk-off home run in Game 1 of the Division Series knocked it out of the entire Pacific Northwest.

It was an excruciating moment. But moments like that are only painful if there’s hope, and perhaps more so than ever before in the franchise’s 46-year history there is hope.

There’s hope in the form of Julio Rodriguez, the budding young superstar outfielder who’s poised to take over the baseball world the way Mariners legend Ken Griffey Jr. did in the 1990s.

There’s hope in the form of starting pitcher Luis Castillo, a legitimate ace who’s been locked down for five more years, along with Logan Gilbert and George Kirby, a pair of young cost-controlled starters who have already proven their mettle in the postseason.

There’s hope in the form of relievers Andres Munoz and Matt Brash, who have the kind of wipeout stuff capable of getting those crucial high-leverage outs even after opposing batters have seen them three or four times in a best-of-seven series. Oh, they’re under team control for a long time as well.

The dance parties that took place on the field after big wins showed the camaraderie and attitude are there, too.

There’s more that needs to be done. President of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto’s job this offseason will be supplementing the offense, which finished a tad below league average in runs scored per game. He also has to find a left-handed reliever who manager Scott Servais trusts to face a batter like Alvarez with the game on the line. But the hardest parts are done, it’s now just a matter of fine-tuning.

Those World Series tickets from 1995 are stirring to life, and the hope is radiating after two decades of dormancy.

Going back to that quote from the beginning of the story, I have a different quote about hope from the entertainment world that I prefer. It’s from the movie The Shawshank Redemption: “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”

Here’s hoping the Mariners bust through that World Series barrier sooner rather than later.

Follow Nick Patterson on Twitter at @NickHPatterson.

This story has been modified to correct Jerry Dipoto’s title.

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