In case you missed the announcement, the Mariners are doing a Lookout Landing Night at Safeco on Saturday, September 2nd. Leading up to that, we as staffers will be taking some time out to honor some of our favorite pieces that have run on the site over the years. This may come off as excessively self-serving, but Lookout has played such a major role in Mariners fandom over the years, I feel it’s important to take a minute out to honor what this site has been, and is, and will be. I want to kick things off by picking out some of my favorite things from our current staffers, who I’m so grateful to be able to talk and joke with every day about this occasionally frustrating, occasionally exhilarating team.
John Trupin - “Seattle Mariners @ Texas Rangers: Two Thumbs Down”
John had only been writing at the site for a little over a month when he delivered this tongue-in-cheek review of a dreary late-August Mariners loss in terms of a lackluster summer blockbuster. What I didn’t know then, reading and chuckling to myself, was this is a particular gift of John’s: without being saccharinely and false-smiley, John can always make you feel better about any situation, no matter how lousy. He has a way of both validating your pain, and putting it in perspective so it doesn’t hurt quite so much. I hope those of you who have never had the fortune to meet John can see what kind of a warm presence he is through his words. My favorite part of the piece is how John mixes words and images to capture the feeling of this game as a particularly uninspired entry to the franchise.
Isabelle Minasian - “The Art of Losing”
Like John, Isabelle was a later addition to the staff last year. However, as soon as I read this piece, I knew we had added to the staff someone who shares my love of English literature, and Elizabeth Bishop in particular (such an interesting puzzle of a person!). I particularly enjoyed the classification here of losses into three categories: Expected, Surprising, and Painful. And they say LL doesn’t invent metrics anymore. In a short and simple recap, Isabelle manages to say something very big about not just the experience of losing this Mariners game, but the nature of loss itself. It is, as a recap, as close to a poem as I think you’ll get.
Zach Milkis - “Macabre Mariners Retell the Raven”*
Except then sometimes you get the whole poem. Like Isabelle, Zach is someone whose literary references I appreciate, and this witty reboot of Poe’s classic was a salve to a particularly brutal Orioles loss, which in turn came on the heel of the snuff film known as Edgar Weekend. It was exactly the wry look I needed at the time, the kind of laughter that comes from a place of hurt, but is still laughter, which is sometimes all we have.
*I would be remiss here if I did not mention Tee, our graphics wizard, who made the art for this piece, and takes our every weird request in slack—some of which never see the light of the internet—and makes our most fevered dreams come true. Tee is a joyful spirit and we’re so happy to have him.
One thing that I’m noting as I string these lovely little beads on this necklace is how much of a gift good writing can be. It’s a balm, a salve, on a wounded heart; it’s a light in the darkness letting you know you aren’t alone; it’s a way to draw up to consciousness things you might have known deep in the well of your soul but don’t yet have words for. And sometimes, it’s just a gift: someone opening up a little window into themselves and letting you peep in at the clockworks there. That’s what Eric does here. There’s an old saying in writing, “no tears from the author, no tears from the reader.” I know some of my best writing has felt like my riskiest, and hope those of you who read this piece appreciate what Eric has given us here.
Luke Mounger - “The Reinvented Nick Vincent”
Not all risks in writing are emotional. When we put out a call for writers, Luke wrote to say he was interested, but also nervous about writing on a site with such a big platform. But he expressed such a desire to learn and improve and we were so taken with his personality that we decided to have him join the staff in an intern role, to help him get to the point where he could feel comfortable publishing things on his own. There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes with Luke’s pieces, as he submits drafts, asks for feedback, and takes critique. This piece represented a significant amount of time and effort on his part, and also a major step forward into working with stats and data that was new for him. It’s been gratifying to watch Luke learn and grow in just the short time he’s been here, and every time I see him take a new risk in his writing, it reminds me to push the boundaries for myself.
Anders Jorstad - “40 in 40: Danny Valencia”
A lot of what Anders does for this site every day gets overlooked, I’m afraid. In addition to being one of the longest-tenured LL staffers of all time, this season he took on the challenge of doing daily links posts while still being a college student (with a very understanding girlfriend, Hi Arianna, and we appreciate you too), and spending his summer being the voice of the Bend Elks. This year Anders has challenged himself to have more of a voice on the site, and it started with his piece on Danny Valencia during the off-season, which he spent a ton of time on, taking all editorial suggestions with grace and tenacity. Anders, the site has been so lucky to have you. Thank you for everything you’ve done, and continue to do, day in and day out.
Jake Mailhot - “A new paradigm for the Mariners’ pitching staff”
Like Anders, Jake does a lot of work that can go unnoticed, either on his excellent series previews, which he files faithfully and thoroughly, or on his analytics pieces, which don’t collect quite the comment swell of a trade piece, for example. Often, there’s just nothing to add to a Mailhot piece, because he’s already covered what you might say in his excellent analysis. Jake was so frustrated this year when Eno Sarris published the piece on Yonder Alonso’s flyball revolution hours before Jake had planned to publish his, but I think that’s a sign of how much Jake has the ability to pick up on patterns. This piece that he and John co-authored way back in March predicts the Mariners’ flyball pitching approach this year months before anyone else around the league started writing about it. We are immensely lucky to have someone with Jake’s baseball IQ writing for the site, and I’m grateful for it every day.
Grant Bronsdon - “Appreciating Nelson Cruz”
Speaking of analytics, I’m also grateful to have Grant on staff, who despite being on the east coast and working a job that keeps him busy 24/7 during the school year (and just 16/7 the rest of the year), manages to check in with pieces like this, that blend a layman’s appreciation of the sport with an analyst’s eye. I think this might have been the piece that gave me the idea for the About Last Night series, actually.
Six months after this was published, it’s still a top-five google result for “Ryne Harper.” As a lover of fringe prospects myself, I was delighted to find that Ben shared my enthusiasm, specifically for Mr. Harper. When Harper was promoted to Triple-A, it was very satisfying to know that someone beside myself and the Harper clan was excited about it. (Let’s skip over the fact that he’s currently back in Double-A.)
Amanda Lane - “Why, Lou, Why Ayala?”
Every LL staff needs someone who is entrusted to be the baseball historian, and Mandy is ours. I found this piece particularly affecting, though, as it forced me to confront a villain of my childhood and see him not just as a baseball player subject to the same whims of the baseball gods as any other, but as a human, who is off somewhere right now doing something entirely unrelated to his baseball career. I always appreciate Mandy’s warmth and insight, and nowhere is that more on display than in this piece.
Okay, so, someone still needs to teach Gotty about SEO, but this is one of the finest entries in what I’m starting to think of as a Gotty-cap: there are some big ideas, some imagery that would seem strained if it wasn’t lashed tightly to the happenings of the game, and a little dash of feelings. This was one of my favorite games to attend all season, maybe my favorite, and I read this recap on the bus ride home smiling and crying like an idiot, and was so, so thankful for it.
Ethan Novak - “Everything happens and then everything hurts”
2016 Game 161. I can’t even re-read this, even though I remember it clearly. Tears are threatening just skimming it as I enter the URL to link it here. Ethan took a bullet for us all that night. If there’s a blogging equivalent of a Purple Heart, Ethan deserves it for this.
Matt Ellis - “Ranger Blood”
Possibly one of the finest pieces of writing, ever, full stop.
Zach Sanders - “The Season’s Over, Let’s Power-Rank Office Formats”