Other Views: Thank you, Mariners, for an Improbable Season

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Baseball is a game of disappointment and hope.

Both were on full display last weekend as the Mariners ended their regular season, just shy of making the playoffs and ending a 20-year drought.

The ballpark stands silent now, but for a brief and wonderful while, we had something to cheer about — young and old, newcomers and old-timers, superfans and those fresh on the bandwagon.

Sports gives us an opportunity to focus on something other than real-world problems. Given all this region faces, the M's thrilling run was a welcome respite.

When the season began, no one expected sellout crowds on the last games, reminiscent of the energy sparked by Griffey, Buhner and Martinez all those decades ago.

On Feb. 22 — before spring training games — Mariners president and CEO Kevin Mather resigned after disparaging comments he made about players came to light.

Credit Mariners chairperson and managing partner John Stanton for making clear Mather's words didn't reflect the team's values. He took on the roles of interim CEO and president, reorganized operations and moved forward.

This was a team that experts predicted should have won only 76 games this season. They won 90, with stats-defying comebacks and improbable hot streaks.

That's the thing that makes baseball special. The regular season is so long — 162 games — fans watch story lines develop and resolve as players cope with their own disappointments and hope. After all, even the best player's hits are only a relatively small percentage of their at-bats.

It hurts to say goodbye to those we have come to consider part of our lives. When Kyle Seager lifted third base above his head as the 11-season veteran took a last ovation, he likely wasn't the only one with tears in his eyes.

In a game of disappointment and hope, "Next year" is the optimist's refrain.

Thank you, Mariners. Here's to next year.