The Problem With Expectations

Today is a day for long-time Mariners fans to do some reflecting. Yesterday seemed like a re-run of something we have seen before. A game against the Yankees, that we should have been won, and yet somehow turned into a loss.

Let’s look at the Mariners record since 1977 and then this year:
+ Going into 2015, the team was 2,822-3,209. That’s a winning pct of .468 which gives them an average of 76 wins per year.
+ In 2015, the Mariners are currently 24-28. That’s a winning pct of .462, which would project them to win 75 games this year.
So by all accounts, the 2015 Mariners are performing ALMOST EXACTLY in line with the 1977 – 2014 Mariners. And yet this season feels like a failure.

So why did this defeat feel so much worse? Why did this loss feel like the end of a season?

It’s simple really. Expectations.

I think you can break the Mariners into 3 eras. Pre-Lou. Lou. And Post-Lou. Lou was the Manager from 1993-2002, but for the purposes of this discussion, we’re going to start the “Lou” era 2 years after he got to Seattle (to account for the time it took for him to make his impact) and end it the year after he left (to account for the residual effect he may have had.)

Pre-Lou (1977 to 1994) – Record: 1,215-1,595 (.432). Avg record: 70-92
Lou (1995 to 2003) – Record: 802-637 (.557). Avg record: 90-72
Post-Lou (2004 – 2015) – Record: 829-1005 (.452). Avg record: 73-89

So if you became a Mariners fan after 2003, your expectations are nil. I mean you *may* remember 2009 when they rang up 85 wins, but more likely 2014 was the first time you realized their season actually extended into September.

But if you were here from 1995-2003, well there are EXPECTATIONS. We had 4 playoff runs in those 9 years and were over .500 every year except two. Making the playoffs 4 out of 9 years seems about right for a team with the best pitcher in the game, a beautiful ballpark and access to a ton of cash.

So many people hoped that with last year’s results, the Post-Lou era could be officially closed. We could make 2014 the first year of the new “Cano” era. 2015 would be EXPECTED to improve upon the last.

And thus last night felt like the end of that hope.

The Mariners can play 24-28 baseball the rest of the season and perform in line with the average history of the franchise. But this year the expectations were bigger – that the team had broken out of the Post-Lou funk. And thus this year’s “average” performance will bring with it disenchantment and disappointment. That’s the problem with expectations.

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