It’s been a veritable Era Of Good Feelings around these parts for the past month or so, what with the Seahawks and Huskies going a combined 6-0 to start their seasons. You could say that I’ve seemingly lost sight of this website’s mission statement (then again, you could also say that I’m really going overboard on all the Sunshine & Lollipops sentiment to set myself up for the big, heartbreaking fall when everything turns to shit, but you didn’t hear that from me).
But, of course, you have to factor in how it has been 4 weeks since I’ve written anything about the Seattle Mariners. I’d venture to say that ANYONE’S outlook on life would be a little rosier if they chose to blatantly ignore the worst thing in the world.
Eric Wedge just said that he’d be leaving the team after the weekend series with the A’s. There’s your impetus for this particular post. With this news comes a range of emotions, mostly negative. Here’s what it boils down to: prior to the season (and/or during the season), the organization came to Wedge and said they’d like to sign him to an extension through 2014. They did the same thing to Jackie Z and he signed (news of his extension came out sometime mid-season as a bit of a shock, because no news came with it about Wedge). As the year has drawn to a close, everyone wanted to know what they were going to do with Wedge. His having a stroke back in July muddied things, as strokes are wont to do, and we all wondered, “Would the Mariners fire Wedge while retaining Jackie Z?” How does that even work, anyway? Who in their RIGHT MIND would come into this situation knowing that the general manager is on the shortest of short leashes?
As a bit of a tangent, I’d like to comment on something Jackie Z said on the radio last night. It’s something to the effect of, “Organizations fire managers & general managers all the time, so length of contract really shouldn’t matter.” That is 100% true. There is nothing stopping this team from signing Jackie Z or Eric Wedge to crisp, new 5-year extensions and then firing them after the 2014 season when we inevitably go 70-92 again. And yet, the organization is even unwilling to do THAT. What does it say about the situation – the fucking QUAGMIRE – we’re in now that this organization is unwilling to do what literally every other organization does? Things are so bad here, we can’t even fake it by giving guys extensions of more than a single year.
Knowing that, getting back to my last point: no self-respecting manager is going to sign with the Seattle Mariners knowing that the general manager is on the final year of his deal and is apparently on a year-to-year situation like a guy at the end of his apartment lease who is going month-to-month until he can find a better home. Because when that general manager is inevitably fired, guess what! You’re fired too, because the new GM is going to want to hire HIS guy. Period.
Eric Wedge, of course, IS a self-respecting manager. He knows it’s bullshit to be hung out to dry with these 1-year extensions. He has the balls to do what Jackie Z couldn’t: tell the Mariners to take their 1-year deal and SHOVE IT UP THEIR ASSES! Eric Wedge would rather be an unemployed dick in the yard with the stigma of a “quitter” around the rest of the Major Leagues (which will ultimately be brought up every time he tries to find another job) than accept your bullshit offer of temporary job security.
Here’s the thing, though: in the end, I don’t know if I’m all that upset to see Eric Wedge go. Some people are glad he’s gone and think he was actively hurting the organization with his in-game tactics and his dependency on “leadership” over outright talent. Trying to shove one of the worst defensive outfields in the history of baseball down our throats (featuring a regular spot for Raul Ibanez and Mike Morse) even though what those guys bring to the plate is far out-weighed by their ineptitude in the field and on the basepaths. I find it hard to believe that there are too many people all that broken up about Wedge leaving; the best I’ve heard about him so far is that the way the guys have played this season isn’t all his fault. Not really a ringing endorsement, if you ask me.
In the end, this decision of Wedge’s – and the revelation that the organization has been dicking around with him in this way – brings about more boiling contempt for the people at the top. It’s yet another excuse to bemoan the fact that Howard Lincoln and Chuck Armstrong are still twiddling their dicks at the top of this sinking fucking disaster. While all signs point to this organization setting itself up for a record-breaking sale (no long-term contracts outside of Felix Hernandez, the new TV deal set to kick in in 2015, one of the smaller payrolls in baseball even though we’re far from the smallest market in baseball), that doesn’t change how things are right now.
Right now there is no reason to expect that things will ever change. Because we have no reason to expect them to change. The organization has denied all rumors linking this team to a potential sale. Of course, if there WAS a potential sale, they would be saying the same thing, because no one wants to queer the deal by having a bunch of reporters actively digging into the negotiations. On the flipside, you can’t ignore the possibility that, for once, the Seattle Mariners AREN’T lying right to our faces. Maybe there ISN’T any plan in place to sell the team within the next year or two! Maybe this fucking horse shit is going to go on FOR-FUCKING-EVER!
If there was any question as to whether the Mariners are the worst organization in all of baseball, let Wedge’s decision put your worries to rest. The Seattle Mariners are THE WORST ORGANIZATION IN ALL OF BASEBALL! Someone needs to make a giant banner, climb the facade of Safeco Field, and hang it for the world to see. The Mariners, by default, are in the running for Worst Organization in All of Professional Sports, with the likes of the Oakland Raiders, Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, and I don’t know enough about the NBA or NHL, but I would assume the likes of the Toronto Raptors, New York Knicks, and the Washington Wizards. Worst Organization of All Time? That puts the Mariners in the running with the recent Los Angeles Clippers (before they miraculously got good), Cincinnati Bengals, the Matt Millen-led Detroit Lions, Portland Jailblazers, and the Maloof-led Sacramento Kings.
Here’s something: when do you ever see a baseball manager quit? Answer: you don’t. You don’t! It just doesn’t fucking happen! There are 30 of these jobs in Major League Baseball; it’s one of the most-coveted jobs in all of sports. You get paid millions of dollars to sit around and “manage” a baseball team. What does that even mean? You set lineup cards and make pitching changes and hope like crazy that your players come through in the clutch. And, if you’re Joe Maddon, you play around with your infield defensive alignment. That’s pretty much it! You toss in some tirades when the going gets tough, you talk to the media day-in and day-out, and you get winters off to relax when it’s all over. Hell, you play your cards right and you’re finished by the end of September; who are these suckers working their fingers to the bone in October anyway? Mamas’ boys! Teachers’ pets!
And here is Wedge, throwing away the opportunity of a lifetime, because he has enough pride and self-worth to know that this is a bullshit organization. And even if he never again gets another opportunity to manage a baseball team, it’s still better than the alternative: one more fucking year with the Seattle Mariners.
Lou Piniella quit after the 2002 season. Since then, the Mariners have ran through 7 managers in 11 seasons. Three were fired, two quit, and two were interim managers not retained past their partial seasons. Just because I don’t place a lot of importance on what a manager actually DOES for a baseball team doesn’t mean I can’t see the problem with this. While I’m a skeptic, players aren’t. Players already in this organization want stability. More importantly, players OUTSIDE this organization want stability, if they even THINK about considering Seattle as a potential landing spot.
While building your team through free agency isn’t necessarily the smartest plan for a franchise that has intentions on winning, the fact remains that this team will need to supplement the talent we have in place with guys outside the organization. By all accounts, the Mariners have money to spend and the willingness to spend it. And yet, who in his right mind would sign with this team, considering all the instability at the manager and general manager positions? I’ll tell you who: the same dickless bottom-feeders we’ve seen for the last decade. Your Aaron Harang and Jeremy Bonderman types. Guys clinging for dear life WELL past their sell-by dates! Hope you enjoyed Raul Ibanez and Jason Bay and the like, because that’s who you’re getting for 2014!
The outlook for the 2014 season is so unbelievably bleak, I don’t even know why I bother. I should just cut ties with this fucking mess right now and get it over with. What’s the point? Sitting around, watching a bunch of .240 hitters, with a bunch of feast-or-famine pitchers (and Felix and Iwakuma)?
The other day, I asked a buddy of mine if he would even miss the Seattle Mariners if they said they were going to pick up and move to Albuquerque tomorrow. He said he would, but not me. At this point in the season, where I’m at my most fed-up with this fucking team, I wouldn’t give two shits if the Seattle Mariners left my life forever. Most likely, I’d follow Felix around and root for whatever team he played for. Then, when he retires, I’d retire my desire for baseball, probably forever.
Hiroshi Yamauchi died on September 19th and a lot of tributes were written. Most of them were positive, as he purchased the team when it was still in a state of flux. The Seattle Mariners very nearly moved to Tampa Bay and if they’d done so, we never would have enjoyed that 1995 season and all the good times that followed, through 2001. Of course, there was a decent amount of negativity written as well. Yamauchi was an absentee owner, there’s no other way to say it. I don’t care if he never attended a Mariners game, and I don’t necessarily think it was a bad thing that he was as hands-off as he was. There are too many cases of meddling owners fucking things up in the world of sports. Honestly, Yamauchi was a refreshing change in that regard. Nevertheless, you can’t ignore the fact that he put Howard Lincoln and Chuck Armstrong in charge. In spite of countless pleas from I would say about 98% of the Mariners fanbase, he stuck by them and left them in charge. You can’t even say their names during the Hall of Fame ceremony for Ken Griffey Jr. without expecting a cascade of boos from an otherwise cheery crowd! I understand the importance of loyalty as much as the next guy, but Howard and Chuck are the biggest fucking boobs on the planet!
So, yeah, Yamauchi gets a lot of credit for “saving baseball in Seattle” as well as a lot of flak for allowing the organization to suck as much dick as it has this past decade-plus. But, why doesn’t anyone comment on the fact that Yamauchi could have saved us a LOT of headaches by simply NOT buying the Seattle Mariners and letting them inevitably move to Tampa Bay?
I became a fan of the Seattle Mariners during their stretch run of 1995. Before that year, I hadn’t seen a single baseball game, and I was 14 at the time! It was football, then basketball with me (and to this day, still is). Had the Mariners moved in 1992 or whenever the fuck, I never would’ve had the opportunity to be sucked in! Seattle would have lost Major League Baseball and to this day we probably would have yet to get it back (or, we’d currently be the Seattle Rays, who with proper ownership, would be contending for annual playoff spots).
Yes, we would lose all of those wonderful memories of Ken Griffey Jr. and Edgar Martinez and all of that. But we’d gain years of our lives back! Years where we wouldn’t have to dwell on the piss-poor baseball being played in our own backyard! Is it really better to have loved & lost than to have never loved at all? I don’t know! What if that “love” of which you speak is never really lost, but sticks with you, festering? Soured by years of neglect and taking one another for granted. Hiroshi Yamauchi could have done me a real solid by looking at the offer to purchase the Seattle Mariners and saying, “No thanks.”
Who knows? Maybe I would’ve become a baseball fan anyway. Maybe I would’ve become one of those insufferable Red Sox fans back in 2004. Yeah, we mock all of those Bellevue Red Sox fans, but do you know how many fucks they give? Zero. Zero fucks. Because, right or wrong, they root for a team that has won two titles in the past decade. They root for a team that knows how to win and make the playoffs consistently. They root for an organization that has one down year and then immediately reloads for another pennant chase. AND, they don’t have to live in Boston, so it’s win-win-win-win-win.