Will the Nationals or Mariners win the pennant this season? Both teams stand a decent chance of getting to the World Series.
Now that we don't have to talk about the Cubs' 108-year championship drought, it's worth noting that eight teams have never won a World Series, namely the Rays (established in 1998), Rockies ('93), Mariners ('77), Nationals ('69, as the Expos), Brewers ('69, as the Seattle Pilots), Padres ('69), Astros ('62) and Rangers ('61, as the second version of the Washington Senators). All but two of those teams have at least been to the World Series: the Nats and the M's.
The Expos only made the playoffs in the strike-torn 1981 season, beating the Phillies in the Division Series but losing to the Dodgers in the NLCS on Rick Monday's tie-breaking homer in the top of the ninth in the decisive Game 5. They also had the best record in baseball in 1994 but never got to chase that elusive pennant because of the strike that wiped out the postseason. The franchise moved to Washington in 2005, and the Nationals have already had more success than their Canadian forebears did, winning the NL East in 2012, '14 and 16, though they've been ousted in the Division Series all three times.
At least they've been to the dance lately. The Mariners were once an AL West powerhouse thanks to Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson and Edgar Martinez, making the playoffs four times from 1995 to 2001. Three of those teams advanced to the ALCS, but lost all three times, falling to the Indians in 1995 and to the dynastic Yankees in both 2000 and '01, the latter year a season in which they tied an MLB-record with 116 regular season wins. In the 15 years since, Seattle has zero playoff berths.
Maybe this will be the year that changes. In our preseason predictions, all eight Sports Illustrated writers and editors polled chose the Nationals as a playoff team, six of them as division winners. Five participants tabbed the Mariners as well; Albert Chen even picked the two to face off in the World Series, which would guarantee that at least one of them ends both the pennant drought and the World Series title drought as well.