Author’s prescript: hello.
If my baseball adolescence was washed in the Kelly green of the Kingdom turf, I reached adulthood in the blank white pages of USS Mariner. Those were the earnest days: a hundred new tools to measure performance, new filters through which we could look at the game. And as we did, Bill Bavasi and his crew loomed over us like a thundercloud, menacing and ethereal. We’d discuss roster construction and optimization, craft a collective plan, and the front office would go out and do the exact opposite.
The first rule of blogging is to write more often than you do. The second rule is equally simple: don’t act like you know more than the wealthy and Ivy-educated professionals that run a multi-million dollar franchise. This seems fairly simple, but it’s actually quite difficult sometimes; 2008 leaps to mind. It felt like there had to be at least a couple of things that we had considered and Bill & Co. hadn't. But what could we do? It seemed like a fan’s only two choices were hand-wringing, or hope.
I didn't start writing about baseball until much later, 2011, and by then the Zduriencik era was in full bloom. Every move the Mariners made at least had some sense to it, even when the results were unfortunate. I didn't become drunk with optimism – I am not by nature an optimistic person – but I did revel in a sort of glorious rationality behind it all. One could see the arc, the story in progress, the first paragraphs of a potential Roger Angell season recap.
And then this off-season happened. The epic tale of the Mariners somehow turned into the second season of The Killing. The roster is littered with first basemen and unfulfilled potential. Eric Wedge's cliches echo through one's skull like a summer pop song. The trail forward is starting to get hard to track.
Zduriencik has always been one to hold his cards close to his vest, polite and evasive in his interviews, making trades out of nowhere. We've always tended to accept this; after all, it’s political realism, what one has to do in the baseball jungle. The reporters are there to ask their dutiful, rote questions, to play their role like the extras in a Socratic dialogue. We’re left to serve as the audience or, at best, the Greek chorus. We watch the play unfold and clap or hiss at the appropriate times.
We don’t expect honesty in these situations, any more than we do with a politician focusing on national security. When Jeffrey Loria gave Jose Reyes poor real estate advice a few months ago, he wasn't looked down upon for what he said - lying about trades is part of the game – but for the fact that he did it in private, which was completely unnecessary. Teams have to protect their knowledge to win.
So we expect to be lied to. And we understand that as outsiders, we lack the information and the insight that contribute to the infinite and infinitely complex factors that go into the baseball decisions we don’t understand.
So where does that leave us? We’re not allowed to pretend we’re smarter than even the most fallible of the experts. We’re not allowed to know the facts or the motives behind their decisions. In fact, in some sense even the act of questioning a ball club is a ridiculous thing; one might as well interrogate a volcano. But even though we can’t expect answers, it doesn't mean we aren't allowed to ask.
People write for different reasons, just like they watch baseball for different reasons. I'm not terribly strong as a journalist or an analyst. Instead, my main virtue is my ability to ask questions, and maybe think about things in a way that people often don't. It won't always be smooth; And sometimes those questions will be dumb, and my jokes will fall flat. When that happens, I expect you guys to be honest with me. Let’s hope it doesn't happen too often.
The world of internet baseball writing has its striations, divides between players and experts and writers and readers. There’s a little bit of elitism. "Don’t Read the Comments" has become a dominant philosophy. That’s one of the reasons that I came back to Lookout Landing, and one of the reasons I write in the first place: I want to read the comments. I want to evoke conversation. Without the conversation, without us creating some sort of shared meaning, baseball is a pretty silly thing.
So we’ll figure out Lookout Landing 2.0 and Seattle Mariners 37.0 together. Sadly, it won't be the same, at least I can promise that I won't try to be the same. There will be adjustments for everyone involved, particularly for myself, perhaps less so for Eric Wedge. Regardless, I’m excited to be part of it.