71 wins, 91 losses. Another season is in the books, and there's nothing left but a hollow feeling. There's no doubt the Mariners were difficult to watch this year, especially down the stretch. The reasons to watch started to fade as the summer faded into a dark fall. Justin Smoak's turnaround faltered. Kyle Seager hit such a terrible slump that his seemingly breakout season ended up similar to his last. Dustin Ackley fell flat, inspired hope, then started to fade again. Nick Franklin came out swinging, and then hit a wall. Mike Zunino finally started to hit, then broke something. There's more, but it's been said, watched, and felt. A poorly designed team saw suspect decisions go south, and the end result was less surprising than an optimistic preseason view might have wished for.
There were plenty of positive moments to take from this year, of course. Raul Ibanez's hot months. Kendrys Morales coming up big in key situations. The encouraging debuts of Taijuan Walker and James Paxton. Brad Miller's two homer games. The emergence of Hisashi Iwakuma. Watching Danny Farquhar finally catch up with his peripherals. Felix Hernandez striking out hitters at a career high rate. Brendan Ryan's defense. A new addition or two to the Raul Ibanez Takes Pride in his Defense archives.
I could go on with thousands of words about everything that went wrong and everything that went right, but you know. I know. We all know, or at least have our own opinions. The past is the past, and while we'll spend many more words analyzing what happened this year, it'll mostly be with the purpose of looking forward. What the Mariners can learn, what they can expect, and why those mistakes can't be made again. There is no end. There can't be, or all of these years that have fallen short are for nothing. That's not a reality I'm willing to accept.
There's been some recent sentiment around Lookout Landing that things have been overly negative. Perhaps too pessimistic. By nature, that is going now to soften. Every off-season brings new hope. No matter how concerned or angry any of us are about how this season unfolded, there is a certain amount of uncertainty as to what will happen next. Despite our darkest worries and most irrational fears, there will inevitably be that moment where we all let this season go and simply imagine. Whether or not you believe this team is being run by the right people, there will be change. Trades will make us cringe or celebrate. Free agent signings will be commended or met with concern. By the time March rolls around, I'll be writing a thousand words on somebody like Kameron Loe, and I'll genuinely care. You probably will too.
I never thought Brian Sabean was much of a general manager. But the Giants won two World Series titles in spite of numerous moves that I questioned, or simply didn't understand. The Giants gave Barry Zito a hilarious amount of money, and then Zito left with two rings. Baseball can be weird like that, and there's no reason it can't be weird like that for the Mariners at some point. It doesn't quite make sense in my mind to look forward and see the Seattle Mariners holding up a World Series trophy just yet, but it never made sense to me that a lot of franchises could do that as quickly as they ended up doing it. Impossibility is a state of mind more than a declarative statement when it comes to this game. The past brings sadness and regret, but if you let yourself go, it might just turn into hope.
"Tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther....So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."
This has been a transitional year for Lookout Landing, and I'm blown away at how fantastic this community has been to all of the new writers, including myself. The identity of this website has changed dramatically, with many different voices and perspectives. I'm proud of the job we've done. I couldn't have done any of this without the incredible staff of writers I've been blessed with, Jon, everyone at the network, and all of you for reading, sharing, and commenting. My sincere thanks. Let's take in the next adventure together.