Commentary: Congrats to Mariners, but next year is 'Playoffs Or Bust'

We start by applauding the Mariners for a fun season – where their playoff hopes came down to the final weekend.

But the bar has now been raised. For this team – there are no more excuses. Anything less than the playoffs next year will fall short of our expectations.

It’s tough not to think about all the missed opportunities this team had – especially in the month of September - and I’m certainly not praising their mediocre play during incredibly important series the past two weeks that ultimately cost them a postseason spot. All things considered, given the low expectations heading into the year, they still deserved the standing ovation at Safeco Field today, and I don’t mind fans leaving the park with good vibes going forward.

But we need to remind everyone that the last time the M’s finished a regular season by exceeding expectations, leaving an image of Ichiro atop Carlos Silva’s shoulders...the very next year, they crumbled to a 61-win season, losing 101 games. That simply cannot happen again.

I really hope the players remember the Safeco Field atmosphere during their final two weekend series, and take it to heart. The fans showed their passion, their loyalty, and their desperation for a contending team. They proved that if the organization can reward us with a team that’s actually in a playoff race, we can return the favor by showing up in full force and supporting them unconditionally.

I hope that – amidst the good-natured postgame atmosphere today – at least one of the Mariners went up to Lloyd McClendon and was, a la Russell Wilson, already talking about next year. How there’s unfinished business. How they’re already focused on avoiding another playoff-less year.

Because while the foundation is now built in Seattle – the standards are now higher. And we need to continue to hold them accountable if their play falls short.

To Jack Zduriencik: Whether you earned a multi-year extension or not, please finally get us some offense this off-season, but don’t sell the farm.

To Fernando Rodney: Always check the inning before you fling that arrow.

To the players: we love your effort, but results are the only endgame we care about. We need your veteran presence when we’re in a playoff race again.

And to the fans, don’t give up hope. 13 years is more than a decade too long to wait.

Be happy about an exciting finish. But our Hometown Nine owes it to us to get back there sooner rather than later.