As soon as word spread about what former Seattle Mariners president Kevin Mather said at that Rotary Club online event on February 5th, it was clear he needed to go one way or another. Obviously, firing him would have been much more satisfying, and sent a more powerful message to the rest of the organization and the fanbase as a whole, but accepting his resignation yesterday works too (while, presumably, reducing the legal ramifications for the club in having to separate from a high-level executive).
To their extremely minimal credit, the remaining Mariners executives are saying the right things, sort of. They’re obviously downplaying Mather’s sentiments as his own, rather than the organization’s (which is, of course, bullshit). As I said before, and as is clear to anyone with half a brain cell, Mather wasn’t just making up total fabrications, he was being just about as candid as possible, without literally tossing out racial epithets. The president of a major sports team is privy to all of the inner-workings of that organization, as well as its plan of action for the next however-many years. What’s that quote? “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” That certainly applies here. Don’t believe Mather’s toothless apology Sunday night after he got caught; believe the 45-minute speech and Q&A that he didn’t realize was being recorded to later be published on the Internet.
Yesterday, John Stanton – majority owner – had to face the music to the press. He will be taking over as president on an interim basis until they find a permanent replacement. That’s not as interesting to me. What’s interesting is how he’s trying to walk back Mather’s statements as one man going rogue. Kind of a play on the One Bad Apple policeman analogy, that totally dismisses the systemic issues at the heart of the Seattle Mariners.
It’s a delicate dance, because the smart thing IS to manipulate with a player’s service time. Look, this is the system that we have in place. There’s no formal salary cap – the players won that battle a long time ago – but in its place, we have this system of Team Control, that might arguably be worse for players than it would be to have a hard cap. Professional sports owners are greedy and fucking RUTHLESS, man. If they’re conceding something to you, I would take a hard look at what you’re agreeing to, because somewhere in there is a huge blindspot that the owners will be more than happy to take advantage of.
Getting back to the dance, though, you have to play all sides. You have to tell the players, “It’s all about competition and having the best players out there to help the Major League club win ballgames,” while at the same time telling them, “Well, you’re young, and don’t have enough minor league reps yet, so we’re going to play this underqualified retread/has-been until you ARE ready,” which just so happens to be however long it takes to maximize that player’s Team Control. You have to tell the fans to be patient, that it’ll be worth it in the end when all of these young prospects are up with the big ballclub, so just hang in there! And, you have to bend to the will of the ownership group, who will cut any corner if it means saving money in the short term. Owners will TELL you they’re desperate to bring back a winner, but in reality, that only matters if it comes with lots of fanfare and beaucoup bucks.
So, where are we now? I would argue, trust in the Seattle Mariners is at an all-time low. The fans are, obviously, outraged, to see that management has – ONCE AGAIN – bungled in the face of zero adversity. The players are, justifiably, outraged, to see that their worst suspicions have been not only confirmed, but given a name and a face to place their scorn. And, shit, the other Major League ownership groups are outraged because everyone knows Kevin Mather and the Mariners aren’t the only ones who think and act this way; and, of course, the Players Association is outraged because they’re looking out for the players who keep getting dicked around in this fashion.
How do we fix it? Well, not fucking up royally again for a while will surely help! Time fixes all wounds or some damn thing. I would also say the Mariners are heading into Spring Training with one arm tied behind their backs. ALL EYES will be on them and the way they go about deciding who makes the Opening Day roster. I would say it’s all but assured that at least Jarred Kelenic is in Seattle at the beginning of April, rather than the end of it. He might not be the only prospect making his Major League debut on such a timetable.
If you’re worried about Kelenic’s Team Control concluding with the 2026 season as opposed to the 2027 season, fear not! If he makes the Mariners effective Opening Day, presumably that means the Mariners will have him starting every day (there’s no reason to call him up and sit him on the bench). If he struggles, they can always send him to Tacoma for a month, telling everyone, “See, we told you, he’s not quite ready yet!” And we’ll get our extra year of Team Control. Of course, if he succeeds, then GREAT, we’ve got another quality outfielder helping us win games right away. This is win-win all around.
But, that’s a short-term solution. In the long-term, you want to know how the Mariners get over this controversy? SPEND SOME FUCKING MONEY.
Put your money where your mouth is, so to speak. You talk a good game about wanting to be a World Class, World Championship organization. Well, you gotta spend money to make money in this game. Or, you gotta spend money to make wins, at least. Because, quite honestly, the Mariners don’t develop to the same high-quality level as the Rays or A’s to think they can get away with being fucking tightwads now and forever. It’s time to put up or shut up, Mariners.
Frankly, it was time to shut up a few weeks ago!