Editor’s note: The Mariners ended up in the basement of the AL West this past season, as the sixth-worst team in baseball, but...we still found reasons to be thankful for them?
Homegrown Mariners are fun Mariners. I’m thankful Seattle has finally built an organization full of names fans can galvanize around. These are our players. They came through our farm system. No more are the days where the hopes and dreams of one team hang solely on albatross contracts and aging stars. Today is a new day and 2020 is a new era. I am thankful we get to watch a whole new crop of tantalizing, talented kids come through the system and blossom into symbols of big city stardom. The Mariners needed a fresh start, and I’m thankful we get to enjoy the journey ahead.
2019 has seen some changes in my Mariners fandom. Finally, there is some real, long-term hope. The farm system completely turned around this year. The Mariners have top prospects! They have a variety of prospects instead of just one that you hang every hope and dream upon. The system has changed and it feels like there is thought and intention behind it. We all know minor league baseball is capricious and can’t-miss-prospects often do miss. The thought behind the system and prospect development feels different and even if the big names miss, I feel like there will be others who won’t. It’s a pretty cool feeling to have, and I’ve cared about the minor leagues for the first time in all my years of fandom. I’m looking forward to seeing the hot prospects start coming through Tacoma next season.
I’m also grateful my daughter, who turned 4 as the season ended, is old enough to start understanding baseball a little bit. She started to recognize players in 2018, but this year she really formed attachments to them (inexplicably her favorite was Jay Bruce). She enjoyed going to Rainiers games with me and loved watching the Mariners on TV. She is not afraid to voice her baseball opinions (that combined with her emotional attachments to the players means she’ll probably be writing for LL in a few years). It’s tough to characterize this season as being fun, but watching the games through her eyes made them fun. I definitely stayed more connected with the team because she started to take an interest in it. It’s impossible to know if she’ll be a baseball fan for life, or if this is just a phase, but it’s so much fun right now to experience the joy of baseball with her.
I’m thankful that I don’t have to do a shitload of mental gymnastics to rationalize my Mariners fandom. The organization is far from perfect [scowls at Kevin Mather, whatever the hell happened with Dr. Martin, and absurd ticket prices for bleacher seats], but hey, at least they haven’t been using technology and elaborate mechanisms to steal signs and brazenly cheat?
On a more positive note, I am extremely thankful for the energy, drive, and unstoppable optimism that Julio Rodríguez is bringing to the team and I can’t wait to see what he accomplishes in 2020.
I’m thankful baseball has a minor league system (currently!); that it has prospects, scouts, grades, breakouts, busts, and goofy kids playing baseball in the middle of the country. I’m not sure my fandom would have survived daily viewing of the 2019 Seattle Mariners without a farm system feeding it a steady diet of hope and wackiness. The joy of the unfinished product is that it allows us to fill in the gaps and edges, use our reasoning and imagination to try and dream the rest of the picture. But the future is unknowable, and that keeps us chasing that last 20% of a team or player’s future we can’t predict. That process, of trying to know the unknowable, is what I love about following baseball. I moved recently, started a new job, went through several major life changes, and there is so much about my life I cannot predict. It’s stressful. But having something low stakes to puzzle out, like what Cal Raleigh’s contact rates might become, keeps the unknowable parts of my life from overwhelming me.
So, Thank You, Minor Leagues, from all of us fans of Teams that Lose.
Weird as it might sound to read, and weird as it definitely feels to write, I am thankful for the Mariners. Without them, I would not be in the position that I am today. I would not have the relationships that I have today. I would not have the perspective that today enriches my life. I am in a position where I sometimes feel like the Mariners are one of my bigger problems in life. That’s something that billions of people can only dream of. For as much strife as they have caused me, my life has been enriched many times over by friends with whom I’ve attended games, by deep bonds between my family, and by the many new people that I have been lucky enough to meet at Mariners games and Lookout Landing meet-ups.
I am thankful that Dee Gordon is so likeable, and has been a real human being to root for the last two years. I am thankful that the future is bright, and that my Mariners-related problems seemingly have an end in sight. I am thankful that through writing for Lookout Landing, I have an outlet with which to scrub twenty-five years of collective emotional plaque off of my psyche.
Most of all, I am thankful for the certainty that even if the Mariners lose, I will be happy to follow them with my friends and family for the entirety of my existence. I don’t think I can say that about anything else.
The Mariners, by and large, are not a good team. They don’t win many of their games, they haven’t made the playoffs since I was 8, and many of their most iconic players have left the team in the last few years. And yet, through it all, I’m thankful for this team because of what it’s given me.
I’m thankful to have inspiring colleagues here at LL who write incredible pieces because they care. I’m thankful to have the LL community, fervent yet thoughtful, opinionated yet caring, always there for me in the best of times or in the 2014 Game 162 of times. I’m thankful to have a game that can provide anything from distraction to an opportunity for contemplation. I’m thankful that, for six months a year, one question crosses my mind every single day: “What time do the Mariners play?”
I’m lucky to be here, and I’m lucky to be here with all of you. I couldn’t ask for a better bunch of people. Happy Thanksgiving.
I am thankful for y’all. All of y’all, for reading and commenting and challenging us and keeping us honest, but also making us feel valued and appreciated for the time and effort we put into this. We love it and may often or rarely agree, but hope you do too. In baseball I root for people as often as groups, which I know can be flawed, but it brings me joy. I’m thankful for Mitch Haniger and J.P. Crawford and Shed Long and Marco Gonzales, who play baseball in ways that I have aspired to myself, and bring me immense joy in their success and fabulous puzzles to work through in their struggles. I’m thankful for baseball, which has brought me to more joy and love than I would have ever imagined possible. Let’s do it again next year.
As many have said, I’m thankful for the daily distraction of baseball as a centering point in a world that can often feel chaotic. I’m thankful for MiLB TV, which offers a glimpse at the future, and for finally having a farm system prospect writers actually want to write about. I’m incredibly thankful for the staff here at LL, who do things like take time out of their Thanksgiving Eves to write up why they’re thankful because I had an idea at 5 PM (or file from vacation in France via DM, in John’s case), or who step up to write a transaction analysis when Dipoto makes a move at the exact moment I’ve walked into the wifi-less vet’s office with my cat, or who give up their evenings on the fly to write a recap when the original writer has something come up. They constantly step up for me and for each other and for you, for very little recompense, and I’m so grateful for every one of them and the talent they bring to bear on this site. I’m grateful for Sweezo, the judicial branch of the site, who keeps the peace and always makes sure we have Fiddle Cat in the good times.
And I’m grateful for you, the readers and the commenters, the people who comment on every article and the long-time lurkers. Without you, there is no site. Whenever I am around non-baseball people it’s honestly a nice break not to talk about baseball...to a point. After a while I get bored and itch to talk about the 2021 free agent class or the battle for utility infielder or the 2020 draft, and I’m grateful to have a place where I can shout about Logan Gilbert to people who get it. I’m especially grateful for those of you who have engaged with the minor league content like the Midshipmen’s Logs and have stuck with us as we’ve started to take a more ground-up view of the organization instead of top-down. It hasn’t always been fun, but thanks for sticking around in the Fiddle Cat times and the lean times, and for making what we do worth it. I am grateful to you all.