This is the way I understand it; correct me if I’m wrong.
For the past however-many years, Root Sports has been televising Mariners games. Root Sports either took over or replaced Fox Sports Northwest, which USED to televise Mariners games. Essentially, the Seattle Mariners have been the primary tenant of Root Sports, to the point where you’ll watch a Mariners game, you’ll catch a brief post-game show, and then you’ll re-watch the same Mariners game (if you’re tied to a chair with those Clockwork Orange eye-clamps holding your attention on the TV screen while someone drops Visine into your eyes every few seconds).
Root Sports also shows a few soccer games here and there, some college basketball and football, and that’s about it. Their original content consists of half-hour specials on all the local teams, giving us an inside perspective we can ONLY get on Root Sports (and on the teams’ websites, and via local newspapers, and from ESPN and other national websites, and blogs, and Twitter, and your mom).
In other words, if the Mariners were to leave Root Sports, Root Sports would cease to be. So, from the Root Sports perspective, when you’re looking at 2015 and the impending opt-out of the Mariners’ TV deal, you’re saying to yourself, “We gotta lock this down!”
The Mariners just bought a controlling interest in Root Sports. Which means that they OWN their own network, but they don’t RUN their own network. And, I gotta believe the Mariners got a PEACH of a deal. First and foremost, Root Sports isn’t exactly the best-run network on the planet. And considering the Mariners had options – they easily could’ve moved over to Comcast Sportsnet (or at least started a bidding war), or they could’ve less-easily just built their own network from scratch – this was the only way Root Sports could have survived in this market (unless they wanted to hold out and pray that the Sonics returned before they went belly-up).
Of course, when you look at it from the other side, the Mariners aren’t really the best-run franchise on the planet either. A match made in heaven! If you didn’t care for the Root Sports viewing experience before (and I’m not saying I necessarily loathed it, but I mean come on, who watches Root Sports aside from when the M’s are playing live?), just wait until you have the Mariners’ brass with their finger on the button!
Ostensibly, what this deal means is that the Mariners don’t get millions upon billions of dollars up front (in a budgetary sense). That would mean that the Mariners would have to take part of those millions and shovel it into the league’s coffers. Instead, the Mariners put money into a network NOW, but in the long run (thru 2030), the Mariners should have way more money than they ever would’ve gotten had they just sold their rights. This also means that the Mariners can effectively hide those earnings and NOT give it away to the rest of the league in their revenue-sharing Communist utopia.
Welcome to the Big Leagues, Mariners! We now expect that you will DO something with this eventual windfall. You know, like pour some of that money into the TEAM. You are a really great organization when it comes to peripheral aesthetics about this team. Improving the stadium with a big video screen, with cool little restaurants and beer gardens. King’s Court is a winner of a promotion and the Supreme Court is always a fun night had by all. You cater to the fairweather fan in ways other teams can only dream about with your between-innings games and contests. Now, you have your own network, where you can do whatever you want! It can be wall-to-wall Mariners repeats 24 hours a day! Not my cup of tea, but you’re sure to get 100% of the households who leave the room and go to bed with the TV still on.
Now, it’s time. It’s time to start spending money on the actual fucking team. We’re done screwing around; this time we’re serious!
“Building the right way” is all well and good, but it doesn’t work if the players you bring in aren’t worth a damn! Until they prove otherwise, Ackley, Smoak, and Montero are pieces of shit. They’re dragging this team into the gutter! It’s VERY telling that the best players on the 2013 Mariners are the veterans you brought in from other teams.
Who is doing the producing? Morse (who, ironically, started out as a Mariners prospect), Morales, and Guti. Who is playing a helluva lot better than your supposed future core of Ackley/Smoak/Montero? Oh, that’s right, Ibanez and Bay. Two old FUCKS are playing at a higher rate than your future stars.
What have we learned? Absolutely nothing. Except that sometimes spending money is a GOOD thing. Especially when you’ve tried and failed at “building the right way”.
Well, here comes the money. Let’s do this thing.