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A programming note

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Or: If you trade James Paxton right now we will be angry

Mariners v Yankees X

Every Sunday I publish a schedule, done through Google Docs, as a sign-up sheet for the writers for the upcoming week. In-season, filling the schedule is no problem, between recaps and game threads and About Last Night articles and analysis and minors updates and news that needs to be blurbed. During baseball season, the machine that is Lookout Landing hums along on mostly renewable energy. Almost every day during the season, something happens, something merits talking about.

The energy of the off-season is much different. After a self-imposed hibernation that begins around the postseason (because heaven knows the Mariners aren’t part of that), during which the writers do things like make nice to the employers who are willing to look the other way during baseball season, or rediscover the joy of exercise, or hug their children, or finally do enough laundry to see the bottom of their bedroom floor in months, around about November we start to look towards next season. We do an autopsy of the past season and start outlining the off-season plan—Grant has something planned that’s so fun and I hope he gets to do it—and we work on theoretical trade proposals. Because content tends to be thin on the ground during the lean winter months, we store our acorns carefully to make sure there’s something for people missing baseball to read on the site each day, beyond the yeoman’s work Anders and Luke put into making the links each day—which, let’s just note this: both Anders and Luke stepped up enormously to make our three-times-a-week links post into daily posts, and while the whole staff participates in posting interesting stories to our links channel in the Slack to try to lessen the burden on them, the fact remains that 90% of the links posts are written by the two of them, a daily chore—and weekends, for Luke!—that they perform cheerfully and diligently, without a great amount of thanks or fanfare. If you would like to offer Anders and Luke (who also does the Friday Sporcles) some thanks and fanfare in the comments, please do so.

Anyway, normally we would be rolling out our off-season plan this week or the next, or at the very least providing some James Paxton trade target articles (one of which Ben has written and is sitting in the hopper, waiting to be published). But as a staff, we are finding it hard to focus on anything beyond Dr. Martin’s accusations of racism and sexism within the organization, and the Mariners’ subsequent response. This is not to say all of us necessarily find Dr. Martin’s claims valid or invalid; what we are agreed upon as a staff is that we are all deeply troubled by the current state of affairs. To go about business as usual feels hollow and disingenuous until we know more about the serious allegations hanging over the organization, and frankly, it would be ghoulish for the Mariners continue to go about business as usual in the current environment. Even if Dr. Martin’s accusations prove to be unfounded, addressing them must be the first order of business—or it should be.

The Mariners continue to make moves, at least with their coaching staff, even if the reported James Paxton blockbuster trade has not yet come to fruition. Perhaps some of these hirings are the culmination of weeks or months of legwork. Perhaps a Paxton trade would be as well, although the optics of trading away a beloved franchise player at a time when the organization is steeped in controversy would be poor, to say the least. The Mariners organization has its own ethical standards, but here at LL, we have decided that for the time being, doing anything other than reporting on the latest developments of the situation regarding Dr. Martin’s allegations and whatever moves the organization feels justified in making during such a fraught time seems both immoral and irresponsible. We will, thanks to Anders and Luke, continue to post news items each day in the links posts; we will report any Mariners-related news that comes to us, related to Dr. Martin’s allegations or not, including hires, trades, or other major news items. But we find speculating about the state of the team in 2019 or beyond to be, frankly, unthinkable at the current time.

No matter where one stands on the issue, it is undeniable that the Mariners have a difficult situation on their hands. So, too, do those of us who cover the team and choose to engage with the team even during the off-season. Because MLB investigations work on their own timeline, we at the site aren’t sure when we’ll have enough information to where we feel comfortable going forward with business as usual. All we know is that currently, we don’t feel like filling the site with the typical off-season chatter. Consider this an LL brownout for now. We will, of course, continue to monitor the situation and report back. But we might also spend a little extra time with our kids, or working on that couch to 5K program, or doing our laundry. We feel justified in taking a step back from the Mariners, and we hope you do, too.