Defining Mariners Moments of the 2020s: Nobody Home

This post responds to the Staff’s series on the Mariners’ Defining Moments of the 2010s. Having flipped the calendar, I can’t help but wonder, what moments will define the next decade of Mariners baseball? I think one of them has already happened.

Goldsmith has the grind. Niehaus had the prepared imagery. Simms’ best moments come when he’s so shocked that his words seem to instinctively present themselves:

Nobody home. That really captures a mood, doesn’t it?

Nobody home. Omar Narvaez turned out to be a transitional player. Brought to Seattle for a veteran and shipped out for a draft pick. He probably won’t be at home for the Mariners again, but he represents the bridge between the last core and The Future™. How can a 2019 moment define the 2020s? Because if the Mariners succeed in the 2020s, the 2019 teardown will be why.

Many of the coming decade’s defining players arrived here because Jerry Dipoto evicted Safeco Field’s notable residents from their SoDo home. If Jared and Justin and Justus and JP finally bring a parade down 4th Avenue, or even just raise another banner above Section 308, it will be because the team sent Cano, Diaz, Paxon, and Segura away from home. Because tell me Mike Zunino wouldn’t have covered the plate on that play. Tell me Cal Raleigh won’t.

Nobody home. If Lookout Landing runs another series in 2029 telling tales of Shed Long’s 3 home runs in the Wild Card Game and Aaron Fletcher’s immaculate inning in Game 4, first we must endure a 2019 of plays where the lights are on, but nobody’s home.

After all, before the Astros could do this:

They had to do this:

The pitch from the Mariners front office is that this rebuild isn’t tanking—nothing so severe as what Houston did—which is why they keep using nonsense phrases like "re-imagining" the roster. But there’s no denying that for Seattle to transition from its 2014-2018 run to a fresh attempt at a championship, it required a lost season. Not the losing of letting-the-kids-play planned for 2020, but a fully lost kind of losing. I’m talking Mac Williamson getting 87 plate appearances, Ryon Healy playing third base, and Dylan Moore sending a perfectly-thrown ball sailing to the backstop.

Nobody home. It won’t just define the 2020s for the franchise, but for us too. There’s nothing wrong with being a fair-weather fan, but there are also the fans who read a Fanpost on Lookout Landing in January. And for them, for those of us watching every day, the packed houses of the winning 2020 seasons will be more fun because of the nights when the lights were on at T-Mobile Park, but only 8,000 people came to watch. The losing isn’t for nothing. We hope.

The view from a mountaintop looks different when you get off a ski lift than when you finish a hike. They’re both nice views, sure, but it’s not the same feeling. And one hopes that just as darkness defines light and absence defines presence, the losing will make the winning sweeter. Plays like Nobody Home is why we gasp when we see this:

Dylan Moore scooped up the ball, threw it, and hoped. Once he released the ball, hoping is all he could do. As fans, it’s all we can ever do. If the coming decade sees a Mariners pitcher record the final out of an MLB season, it’ll only be because one time, in 2019, nobody was home.