Being a Philadelphia Phillies fan is no easy chore, as evidenced by the franchise’s two World Series titles in its 140-year existence. Such futility involves a lot of heartbreak and heckling, disappointment and doubt.
But consider the plight of the Seattle Mariners fan. The team, which played its inaugural season in 1977, has never so much as won an American League pennant, meaning it’s never played in a World Series, much less claimed a title. In 2001, Seattle tied a Major League Baseball record with 116 regular-season wins, only to fall to the Yankees in the ALCS with New York — and the country — still reeling from the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
2001 was Ichiro Suzuki’s rookie season. It was also the last time the Mariners made the playoffs, good for the longest active postseason drought in the four major American sports.
Seattle nearly ended that drought last season, seeing its hopes dashed in the final game of a statistically flukish campaign which saw the team win 90 games despite a negative run differential. Sensing a chance to contend for a playoff berth this year, the Mariners spent lavishly (for them, anyway) this offseason, inking reigning Cy Young Award winner Robbie Ray to a lucrative free-agent deal and signing shortstop (and former Phillie) J.P. Crawford to a new five-year contract.
But after a promising 11-6 start, the M’s have fizzled, losing 11 of their last 13 — including a blowout loss to the Phillies on Monday — to sink to 13-17 on the season. For their part, the 13-16 Phillies have been similarly mediocre as they prepare for the second of a three-game series in Seattle Tuesday, with Ray facing a resurgent Aaron Nola on the mound.
Nola’s record doesn’t tell the whole story
Nola’s 1-3 record is deceptive. He’s posted a 3.38 ERA and has logged three quality starts out of six total. To this end, Pennsylvania’s mobile sportsbooks are showing him mild respect in the NL Cy Young futures market, with FanDuel assigning him 40/1 odds — same as Ray, who’s off to a middling start, over in the AL. Nola’s odds to win that honor are steady elsewhere, while Ray’s odds are all over the map, standing as short as 18/1 at BetRivers.
The strongest contender for postseason honors among the Phillies is defending NL MVP Bryce Harper, who, despite a lackluster start to the season (.259 with six homers), has odds ranging anywhere from 12/1 at BetRivers to 20/1 at FanDuel to repeat. Offseason outfield acquisition Nick Castellanos is the only other Phillie who warrants anything resembling serious consideration — 50/1 at most books — in the same market.
Before the season began, the Phillies were listed at odds ranging from +380 to +550 to win the NL East. Their odds have since lengthened to anywhere from 8/1 (BetRivers) to 9/1 (DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM), making them a consensus third pick behind the Mets and Braves.
As for the Mariners, they’re also the consensus third pick (behind the Astros and Angels) to win the AL West at this juncture, with odds ranging from 4/1 at BetRivers to 8/1 at DraftKings.
Dreaming of a third Phillies World Series title (and the first since 2008)? As of Monday afternoon, DraftKings was offering the best price (40/1), with the sportsbook pegging 35/1 odds on any team from Pennsylvania — that’d be the Phillies or Pirates — being the last one standing come fall.
Photo: Eric Hartline/USA TODAY