If that was the last Mariners fans see of Kyle Seager in a Seattle uniform, what a send-off it was. Of course, it would have been nicer for this farewell tour to conclude with a playoff appearance, but with 40,000+ fans in the stands to bid him farewell, consider that a second-best option.
You can tell the story of Seager’s time in Seattle through statistics to prove his status as a club legend, but that’s a shallow view of what he offered the Emerald City. Sure, he’s got the seventh-highest bWAR in franchise history (37.0), sure he hit nearly 250 homers, drove in over 800 runs, and is the proud owner of one gold glove as well as an All-Star appearance. He’s got two seasons within the top 20 of AL MVP voting, finishing as high as 12th in 2016. But, framing his contributions to the city through only a quantitative lens is to only explore the tip of the iceberg that is Kyle Seager.
Along with King Felix, Kyle Seager was the face of the Mariners franchise in the 2010s. He was the guy you could count on nearly every day, for 11 straight years, to be on the lineup card. Cheering for the Mariners is a pipeline to watching those you cheer for leave you through unfortunate circumstances. Ken Griffey Jr. going to Cincinnati, A-Rod to Texas, Ichiro getting traded to New York, there’s examples left and right. The 2010s were no different, but through it all, there was Kyle Seager.
There were admittedly some years to forget as a franchise, but with Seager, you could actually force yourself to turn on a game during one of those years with 85+ losses and have hope that something interesting might happen. He had opportunities to leave, to pursue greener pastures where playoff success was more likely yet here he stayed through it all. The relationship between Seager and the Dipoto front office was notedly tumultuous, but being the absolute professional he is, he still was out there at the hot corner nearly every day, leading the team.
If there is one thing to take away from Seager’s time here, it is his status as an all-time leader. Could his final moments on the field as a Mariner have made it any clearer that every single member of the Mariners clubhouse loves him? J.P. Crawford’s interview with Angie Mentnik alone was enough.
"Hell of a leader, better teammate, better friend." I mean, what more can you say about a guy? Kyle Seager has been a legendary leader for a long time, but his leadership this year alone will not go unnoticed, and will not be forgotten. The season has been over for one day, but for Mariners fans, it is already clear, this 2021 team will be remembered for years to come. No, there will be no postseason, no World Series glory come to the end of October. What will remain are memories shared of 162 of the most spellbinding, magical, and assuredly chaotic baseball any Seattle fan this side of 1995 can remember.
Through it all, there was Seager, having a career year in the power department while mentoring a collective of young personalities that will lead this team for the next decade. Based on the amount of "I love you" you could read off of the lips of teammates as Seager bid his farewell, it’s safe to say that he’s imprinted his mark on those around him. Kyle Seager in all reality will never make a postseason appearance in a Seattle uniform, but make no mistake, when this curse of a playoff drought finally ends, he will have a hand in doing so. There are bits of knowledge, lessons learned by everyone on this team that have come from him.
There’s been no indication yet what 2022 will look like for Seager, if there’s more in the tank or if that was his last time on a diamond. Selfish as it is, I’d hope he hangs up the cleats. It is more than clear he still has the ability to compete at an above-average level, but to see him sign for some other club just feels like a bad taste in my mouth. Seager is synonymous with Mariner, and for that to change would be unfortunate. If he does sign elsewhere though, an NL club would be preferred. The day Kyle Seager comes up to bat against the Mariners feels like a situation better left avoided. If it does happen though, it is clear this franchise and its fans will welcome him back with open arms and raucous applause, of which he rightfully deserves.
To Kyle Seager, sincerely thank you for the memories. Thank you for 11 years of good days and bad days, thank you for the presence you provide to this ballclub us Mariners fans have come to love. Thank you for sticking with us for as long as you did, moving from one side of the country to a city 20+ hours away from the Carolinas that you called home. May you and your family know that you always have a place in our collective hearts, and may 15 never be worn again by a Mariner, instead displayed in center field alongside the numbers of Griffey Jr, Martinez, and Robinson.
The moniker of this franchise echoes this moment. At some point, a Mariner has to get off the boat and head home. Whether you’d like to or not, your trip is finite and you cannot remain at sea forever.
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