[Ed. note: Saturday, September 2, will be “Lookout Landing Night” at Safeco, and we would be thrilled if you could join us. Tickets can be purchased here. Leading up to the event, our writers are taking a look at our favorite pieces published on the site over the years. You can read Kate’s favorites here, and Isabelle’s here.]
Finding Lookout Landing was definitely a “right time and right place” moment for me. I was single, living alone, and had all the time in the world to waste on the internet. It was 2009 when I found it after searching around to find more insights on Ken Griffey, Jr. returning to the Mariners. These were simpler, pre-HD TV times, when ROOT was still FSN on channel 30. I had moved to Seattle in Fall 2007 after spending the early to mid 2000’s in Bellingham where I didn’t follow the team as closely as I would have liked. Being in the city allowed me to worship young Felix in person more often. And when Griffey came back, well, even though I knew he was old and injured, it felt really important to me because of how much he shaped my fandom as a child.
Somehow that led me to Lookout Landing and it’s been a part of my daily routine ever since. Even though I’m one of the newest members of the staff now, I think I’m one of the longest tenured commenters/readers among the staff. Which is silly to me because I don’t consider myself part of the old guard. I’m more a part of the second generation/wave of commenters, or maybe LLGen X? I don’t know. The real old farts here know who you are. But, I remember the simplistic old site layout, the old shoddy Photoshop version of the Sexson logo, and all the wacky commenters that have come and gone. Even though I’ve never met Jeff Sullivan, Matthew Carruth, or many of the original commenters, I FEEL like I know them on a certain level after reading years and years of their words. And I’m deeply grateful to all of them because LL made me a better baseball fan. I found a haven in the Open Game Threads with their strict rules on no chatspeak and crowd-enforced rules on being able to back up statements you make. It made me appreciate nice places on the internet, which are few and far between. Baseball Twitter is fun, but it can also still be an echo chamber at times. LL Game Threads are a priceless commodity of a smart, fun, world-weary, and irreverent community of people that I would gladly hang out with in real life. I haven’t met anyone from LL that I didn’t at least sort of like, and quite a few of them I consider dear friends.
Okay, that’s enough preamble, let’s get to my favorite LL pieces. Since I’ve been reading the site for about 8 years or so, I’ve picked a lot of older pieces here, so it’s pretty Jeff-heavy. But, I mean he was the primary writer from 2005-2013, so I think it’s only fair.
I didn’t feel right ranking them, so I’m going in (mostly) chronological order. Get ready to feel nostalgic for the early to mid 2010’s, y’all. Weird, I know.
Jeff Sullivan: “If It Goes Right”
Jeff started a tradition long ago of writing a pure fan-fiction sort of piece on what it would be like if the Mariners team in question that year somehow either made the playoffs or even (/faints) won the World Series. LL continued this preseason tradition after Jeff left with various authors giving the ol’ dream machine a whirl. They are fun and also sad to read. Fun because they give me goosebumps when certain beloved players are mentioned in their roles in getting the Mariners to the playoffs. Sad because of the litany of cursed names also mentioned throughout the years in ways of wishful successes they never even got close to achieving in real life. I don’t know why the 2011 one really stuck with me, but maybe it’s just because how badly I wanted the team to be good after an abysmal 2010. Felix was still FELIX and he had just won the Cy Young. The team was young and had a potential deadly middle of the order trio in Dustin Ackley, Justin Smoak, and Kyle Seager (and thank fucking god at least one of those guys panned out. Bless your heart, Kyle). Anyways, this is a great example of how Jeff, a very stat-minded writer, could also melt your cold, dead heart.
Jeff Sullivan: “Let Us Reminisce For A Moment”
This is a post Jeff wrote in 2012 looking back on Felix’s GRAND SLAM that he hit in 2008. It happened before I found LL, but I remember hearing about it in hushed tones like a tall tale. Whenever it came up in a game thread or article, histrionics would ensue. It is a truly special moment admidst a sea of garbage moments from that era of the team. The team’s best pitcher and greatest source of pride closes his eyes and hits a grand slam off the NL ERA leader, Johan Santana. Silly shit like that is why baseball is the greatest sport on earth.
I had to include this because Jeff literally threatens Carlos Beltran’s life after he slid home and hurt Felix’s ankle in the very same grand slam game. You want to see LL at its peak of Game Thread Emotion and insane behavior? Here it is. Drink it in. It’s not like this anymore and that’s probably a good thing.
Jeff Sullivan: “Felix Hernandez, Perfect Game Make Acquaintances”
Jeff wrote well over 1,000 game recaps. Most of them were for complete dumpster fire games. Then Felix threw a perfect game in 2012 and Jeff seemingly effortlessly fired out a flawless recap detailing a singular moment in franchise history. It’s not flashy, it’s just very Jeff and very good.
Jeff Sullivan: “Lookout Landed”
It’s hard to convey what a mind blower this was at the time. I was in shock. How could Jeff leave us? What the hell will I do without Lookout Landing? Jeff’s gallows humor and superb analysis had helped me through hard times, sad times, countless hours at shitty IT help desk jobs during the recession, and everything in between. At the same time, I totally understood. His hobby had become his burden. It’s absolutely incredible he kept going as long as he did. I knew that back then and it’s become a billion times more clear now that I’ve been on staff for a season. Churning out content for a team that has been so bad for so long with brief reprieves of happiness here and there is extremely hard and draining. It’s also addictive, joyful, and fun because of the creative free reign we have here. But, man. Seven seasons, or nine if you include the early “Leone for Third” blogging days. The Mariners’ combined record during Jeff’s LL years of 2005-2012? 584-712. That includes two 101 loss seasons. I feel like I need a shower after totaling those up. Jeff, cheers and eternal gratitude to you, good sir.
Nathan Bishop: “Ken Griffey Jr and me”
After Jeff left LL, we had a succession of new Managing Editors that took on a seriously unenviable task of trying to keep LL afloat and push it in new directions as they saw fit. We had Jon Shields briefly, then Scott Weber, and then this fellow right here, Nathan Bishop. Nathan is a year or two older than me, so we’re right in the prime demographic of Mariners fans who worshiped Griffey as a child. Nathan wrote this right before Griffey was inducted into the Mariners Hall of Fame in 2013 after retiring in a huff of hurt feelings mid-2010 season. Griffey’s speech was emotional, honest, and just plain awesome and did a lot to heal his image with many fans, myself included. Here, Nathan combines a rundown of Griffey’s most jaw-dropping stats with a wonderful personal recollection of witnessing his inside-the-park home run in 1989 to great effect.
Logan Davis: “Good grief you guys Felix is amazing”
Logan was one of my favorites in the early post-Jeff days. He’s an actual scientist now, I believe, and is missed around these parts, but he had an ease with combining stats and humor and this is a simple piece that is nothing but charts he made demonstrating Felix’s dominance. It’s short, to the point, and perfect. Just like Felix was back then. (Heavy sigh) Please be healthy and good-ish again, Felix.
Patrick Dubuque: “The Seattle Mariner Experience”
Have you read “The Watchmen” by Alan Moore? Patrick is the Dr. Manhattan of Mariners bloggers, but even sadder and more removed. He is perhaps my favorite of the non-Jeff variety. Few have been able to perfectly encapsulate the true essence of Mariner fandom like Patrick does in this piece. I return to it often, because this team gives me cause to do so often. Bad baseball is still baseball and what are playoffs anyways really? Who cares.
John Trupin: “40 in 40: Mitch Haniger”
I felt the need to give a shout out to this very prescient piece by John. If ol’ Mitch hadn’t been derailed by multiple injuries this season, John might be on trial right now for witchcraft. He was one of the first bloggers to go deep on why Mitch could easily be a breakout star and he was more or less right on the money, injuries be damned.
Kate Preusser: “Screw this.”
Kate took over as Managing Editor after Nathan stepped down. She joined the staff in early 2016, very briefly co-ran the site with David Skiba in early 2017 before he left to continue running No Boat Brewing, and it’s been Kate’s gig ever since. Obviously I’m biased since she let me join the crew, but she does an incredible job and is, no joke, the best boss you could ask for. Isabelle already picked Kate’s “Pedagogy of the Depressed,” which is probably my favorite of hers, as well, but “Screw this.” is a close second. Remember the first two weeks of the season? C’mon, dig deep, I know you’ve suppressed it, too. A 2-8 start. Seven fucking games against the future World Series winning Astros (muhahaha a curse upon all of you fuckers). In a world of #HotTakes and instant gratification, it was not a fun time to be running a Mariners blog, so she channeled our collective frustration into this piece and it was exactly what we all needed to hear at the time. As someone who runs, this line is just so good to me: “I curse, and I curse, and I curse as I push up the hill. I am an engine of hate, the little engine that couldn’t give a fuck.”
That’s all from me. This ended up being part history book and part nostalgia trip, but it’s all quality free content that we as Mariners fans have been utterly blessed to have access to. Here’s to many more years of quality sadness and beautiful highs at Lookout Landing.