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<  Shannon Drayer

A most difficult Mariners season comes to an end

AP585328285394
From the 91 losses to Eric Wedge's decision to not return, 2013 was an especially tough season for the M's. (AP)

By Shannon Drayer

And so it comes to an end. One-hundred and sixty-two games. Seventy-one wins and 91 losses.

This was a tough season for everyone involved. Any losing season is, but as I said so many times this year, it's not the win/loss totals but the roller-coaster ride that led up to them. We were teased by glimpses and modest winning streaks.

At one point of the season, you may remember, I abandoned any talk of turning a corner as we had been burned too many times. The possibility that we were approaching the corner, however, led to just as steep a dip in the ride as any belief that we had stepped over to the other side. It was inescapable for me.

This was the toughest season I have been a part of since I first started traveling with the team in 2003. Throw in the final month and then the final days and I am not sure it will be matched. To see the uncertainty of direction and what the leadership will be going forward is tough. To see manager Eric Wedge decide there was no choice he could live with other than to leave the team was unimaginable. Nobody saw this ending coming.

Wedge leaves a clubhouse full of young players he still believes in. He made it very clear that this move wasn't about them. In his final postgame session with the media, I asked what mark he hoped he left on the young Mariners.

"What it takes to play the game and play the game right," he answered. "And just understanding that you don't play this game with fear. You stay aggressive and you trust your abilities and you coach your own self. You have to know yourself better than anyone else."

For Wedge, player development clearly was about more than what happened on the field.

"For me it is about being a man on and off the field," he continued. "The way you carry yourself with your family and community and what you mean to the game when you are on the field."

Exactly what I would want the young players to get from Wedge. He lived those words. We saw it in the commitment to the community he showed when he moved his family here and also in his belief and tireless promotion of "the plan". We saw it in how he managed his clubhouse and supported his players. We saw it in how he handled his recovery and return from his stroke and the emphasis that he put on family.

Wins and losses and anything between the lines you may not have liked aside, the Mariners were led by a good man the last three years. That should not be taken for granted.

There will now be a new direction, which we will talk about in the days and weeks to come.

The not-so-offseason begins now.

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