A year ago, Don Wakamatsu was the most impressive Mariner, on a team that was easily exceeding expectations.
Now he's out of a job, cut loose by a team that has easily underperformed expectations.
A year ago, he looked like one of the most promising young managers in the game . A year later, he still is.
So what happened in Seattle? The simple answer is that in a trying season, the relationship between Wakamatsu and general manager Jack Zduriencik frayed to the point where it couldn't be repaired.
It's hard to know who was most at fault for that, but in recent weeks Wakamatsu and the people around him had become miserable. There was a strong feeling that the manager was getting no backing from Zduriencik and the rest of the front office.
Some of that tension is to be expected, based on the Mariners' sky-high (far too high) expectations, and on the team's 42-70 record. Some of it was no doubt caused by the problems Wakamatsu had with Ken Griffey Jr., a franchise icon, and then with Chone Figgins, who was Zduriencik's big signing last winter.
What happened this season will no doubt serve as a lesson for Wakamatsu, because dealing with adversity and maintaining working relationships with bosses is a big part of managing. He'll learn from it, and he'll be better prepared for his next job.
Will there be a next job? Almost certainly there will be. Wakamatsu is 47 years old, and he impressed many people around the game with the job he did last year. And the general view of this year's Mariners is that they were a flawed team from the start.
Plenty of great managers got fired from their first job. It happened to Tony La Russa, and to Joe Torre.
It's too early to declare that Don Wakamatsu will be a great manager. But there's still every chance he could become one.