1) The first thing to do, the very first thing, is to read this:
I like to think of baseball as less a form of entertainment and more a force of nature. Entertainment is unidirectional; it is a service. You take what you want from it, then turn it off. It’s heartless and transactional. I prefer the idea that baseball is just something that exists alongside, like raw material, something we can make anything out of.
2) One of my most vivid memories of childhood trips to the Kingdome was the angular nature of the game. My experience with baseball was in the backyard, or maybe running around a junior high infield when those big kids weren't around. At the Kingdome everything was bright, and the perfectly straight chalk lines and finely measured bases. The infield was a diamond, the bases pristine and square. At the end of each foul line these grand, stately, silent sentinels loomed over the field, passing judgment on what was a home run, and what was a strike. The scene conveyed on me a grand sense of order, of control, of perfection.
That's what a lot of the last 15 years of baseball's gilded stats age has been about, I think. We desire control, order, understanding, knowledge. But at the very center of the heart of the game, pulsating and pumping life and energy to everything else, is the microsecond when a round ball, spinning at a rate of up to two thousand revolutions per minute and moving in excess of one hundred miles per hour, meets a cylindrical piece of wood, swung at a speed matching or even exceeding that of the ball. Those two round, spinning, humming, angry objects collide, and that beautifully ordered, right-angled stage is thrown into utter chaos.
Careers, livelihoods, and legends are built up and brought low by that chaos, and the infantile way we are beginning to understand it. We are always striving to learn and grow, but never, ever forget how much there is left to learn. Today's medicine is tomorrow's leeching. We are still, in so many ways, grasping in the dark.
3) Joey Cora squared to bunt, and if the angle of his bat is a tiny fraction of a degree different, Don Mattingly scoops the ball and waits for him with the tag. Maybe then Griffey pops up, and after Edgar walks Alex Rodriguez, far too young for the moment, strikes out. Maybe enthusiasm dwindles, and the boondoggle that is publicly financed stadiums is seen for what it is. Maybe Dave Niehaus accepts his Hall of Fame induction with a plaque that says "Tampa Bay Mariners".
Baseball is called a game of inches, but that's bullshit. Baseball is a game of millimeters, and the effect they have on our lives will never stop thrilling and terrifying me in equal measure.
4) With the Royals' World Series championship and the Blue Jays playoff run last year it is no longer in question: Your Seattle Mariners are baseball's reigning monarchs of failure. There is no franchise in the game with less history, success, or reason for an average sports fan to pay the slightest attention to them. This is the reality, and the truth we wake up to everyday.
5) Lookout Landing is old. It is the geriatric, tottering, cursing, DGAF, fount of wisdom, only slightly sane hermit you see in stories. It is a place that has lived its many iterations, leaders, periods, policies, commenters, writers, successes and failures writ out on a public forum. It is not the academic lecture/frat party mashup it was when Jeff was here, and it's not the same as when Jon and Scott ran it either. It has become a plurality, a place where the consensus is lack of consensus. Here now old school and new school meet in the writing, authors, readers, and commenters on a daily basis. Through it we, hopefully, are all learning something from someone we may not have considered before.
Lookout Landing should be a sad, miserable, small, forgotten place, if it exists at all. Instead, through the power of all the amazing writers and commenters here it stands as a grand testament to the powers of community, science, humor, and above all, the love of baseball. It is my very favorite place on the internet, and has been the entirety of my adult life.
6) Fangraphs has projected the Mariners to win 82 games. PECOTA says 84. Grant Brisbee picked them to win the division, then wrote a separate article that made it clear he doesn't even really believe that. Wanna feel old? Felix Hernandez is thirty in two days. Nelson Cruz, Seth Smith, Hisashi Iwakuma, Robinson Cano, Chris Iannetta, Nori Aoki, and Adam Lind are all well older than that.
The Mariners appear to be a good but not great baseball team, and their age and payroll weighs on me as I consider this may be the best Mariner team for a few seasons. But, this is a game built on roundness meeting roundness in anger, and the chaos that ensues.
7) Last fall, after I crashed my car like an idiot, we decided that we were going to finally take a trip to Hawaii. It was something my wife and I had talked about, planned, and dreamed of for over a decade. All it took to push us over the edge was me nearly throwing my life away with a few moments of careless irresponsibility.
One day we rented kayaks, and my little family of four paddled out, one adult and one child to a boat, out into the wild blue of the pacific. We kayaked to a harbor named after Captain James Cook, who was an intrepid British explorer right up until he died trying to kidnap the king of Hawaii in front of his own people. Between the green cliffs, the lack of people, the blue ocean, and the fish beneath us it was a beautiful a place as I have eve seen. There we sat,we four tiny humans, bobbing in the sea, helpless, vulnerable, and filled with a deep, sharp, resonate thankfulness.
I was brought there in part by my own foolishness, but to be honest I have no way figuring out how or where to appropriate credit or blame for the events that led me to that moment. Bad brings good and good brings bad without any discernible balancing of scales. All I know is I was there, and I was utterly overwhelmed.
Chaos allows us to dream, because it will never let us know all there is to know. It allows us to stand here, in this place, together, for another year, and hope.