I thought I already wrote a post about this, and then I remembered: I did. But, I lumped it in with a post about the All Time Mariners Greats.
So, I suppose now that the day has come and they’re honoring these two local legends, I should say something specifically related to Dan Wilson & Randy Johnson.
Dan Wilson was a frustrating player to watch. Without a doubt, he was the greatest catcher this franchise has ever seen. And, if you put his hitting numbers up against these Mariners teams of the last three years, he would fit in beautifully. But, Dan Wilson didn’t play with these no-hit goons, he played with some of the most talented offensive weapons of all time. Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez, Edgar Martinez, Jay Buhner, and a number of role players who blew up for a season or two, thus cementing those Mariners teams as some of the best offensive teams of all time.
A lot of people lament the fact that the Mariners for a number of years had all of this tremendous talent, but they never went to a World Series. Well, a big part of that was the pitching, which was obviously deficient, especially in the bullpen area, which ultimately cost us every ALCS we ever played in. But, an underrated reason why those teams never went anywhere was the mind-boggling fact that those great offenses, for whatever reason, were completely shut down in the post-season (aside from that Yankees series in 1995, which was insane).
And, a major culprit was Dan Wilson. If memory serves, didn’t he go 0 for 49 in one stretch of post-season games? And yet we continued to trot him out there, overworked and overused, where he would be an automatic out when things mattered most.
I like Dan Wilson an awful lot, but the lasting impression I’m going to have of Dan Wilson for the rest of my life is going to be surrounded by that 0 for 49. He’s a symbol of the futility that those Mariners teams succumbed to. Very talented, special regular season teams; complete choke-artists when the lights were turned their brightest.
With Randy Johnson, I have a completely different take. He’s the other great symbol of Mariners futility: organizational incompetence.
Yes, Randy Johnson deserves to be in the Mariners Hall of Fame. He also deserves to be in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. AND, he SHOULD be going into the MLB HOF as a Mariner, but he’s not, because this is a shitty organization with shitty ownership and shitty front office personnel.
Scared off by his injured back in 1996, the Seattle Mariners refused to give Randy Johnson the contract extension he wanted and deserved. Make no mistake, Randy Johnson WANTED to continue to be a Seattle Mariner. It’s the front office that balked, then bungled things, then ultimately traded him away at the 1998 deadline to the Houston Astros.
Randy Johnson didn’t tank that 1998 first half, but he should have, and I wouldn’t blame him if he did! The Mariners fucked him over royally, but they ultimately did him the biggest favor in the world by letting him go. So he could play for an organization that would properly appreciate his special gifts. That wouldn’t be scared off by one injured season. That would get to enjoy his back-to-back-to-back-to-back Cy Young Awards.
Yeah, can you believe it? A guy who was the best pitcher your franchise ever saw, going on to win FOUR Cy Young Awards the year after you trade him away. Way to go, Seattle. I got you again.
I’d like to say something along the lines of, “I have never forgiven the Mariners for doing something so stupid,” but let’s face it, I’m still here following this team aren’t I? And lord fucking knows they’ve done PLENTY of stupid shit in the meantime. But, seriously, trading Randy Johnson has to be at or near the top of all the stupid things the Mariners have ever done. It’s absolutely indefensible and unconscionable.
Today is supposed to be a banner day for the Seattle Mariners (so, of course, it’s not televised, because duh), but all I can think about is all the wasted promise. When your organization’s “history” consists of four playoff appearances and no World Series appearances, that’s pretty pathetic. Then again, Seattle wouldn’t be Sports Hell if it were anything but.