The Mariners Absolutely Must Fire President Kevin Mather Immediately

I don’t come to these types of reactionary decisions lightly. I’m not waiting around, scrolling Twitter all day, just looking for something to be offended by. Indeed, when I come across something that either already has blown up, or clearly WILL blow up in the very near future, I tend to chuckle and think, “Well, that person just ended their own life.”

These types of responses – so and so must be fired immediately – get lumped in with this phony concept of Cancel Culture. For starters, it doesn’t exist. No one is ever canceled; at worst, they go in Time Out for a while and then get to resume earning a living again. If Brett Ratner can get another job directing a major motion picture, if Mel Gibson can be welcomed back into the Hollywood fold, if Louis C.K. can start touring again after a nine-month vacation, you tell me who’s really canceled. Beyond that, you know who NEVER seems to get canceled? Good people. Isn’t that strange? It’s only the fucking assholes, or the idiots who can’t keep their mouths shut and need to boost their own egos constantly who end up taking themselves down (for a period of time). Furthermore, if you don’t know how the game is played by now, it’s your own fault. If you do or say shitty things, you will be exposed eventually … SO JUST DON’T DO OR SAY SHITTY THINGS! Because it very much is a game, and you’re losing if you get found out; there’s no money in being a martyr. Just because good people don’t get canceled doesn’t mean there aren’t bad people absolutely THRIVING; they’re just smart enough to know how the world works.

In fact, I’m annoyed that Kevin Mather’s speech at the Bellevue Breakfast Rotary Club (whatever the FUCK that is; I’m assuming it’s full of the absolute worst of what this area has to offer, when it comes to entitled wealthy pricks) is even SLIGHTLY brushing up against racism, because while he’s certainly being one of those entitled wealthy pricks in his comments about Iwakuma (and other players, not noted in the link above; go find the full transcript for all of his bon mots), and while those are indeed fireable sentiments, I’m not here to tell you what you don’t already know: rich old white guy looks down on those from other ethnicities, news at 11.

I think Kevin Mather should be fired because he’s fucking terrible at his job!

When you are a president of something, your primary job is to be a leader. Handing out all of the Mariners’ internal secrets – when it comes to sabotaging a player’s service time, when it comes to exposing (in broad strokes) the organization’s financial situation, when it comes to fucking badmouthing your employees (you know, the guys you rely on to play the fucking game of baseball) – that’s not being a leader. I mean, in political terms, it’s the baseball equivalent of Joe Biden handing all of our nuclear codes to the Russians; Kevin Mather is helping THE REST OF THE LEAGUE destroy the Mariners.

If you’re a player in the organization, how can you trust anything that anyone says, from manager Scott Servais, to GM Jerry Dipoto, to primary owner and CEO John Stanton? If you are a free agent, why would you ever sign with a team that has this much contempt for its players? IT’S ALREADY HARD ENOUGH TO GET FREE AGENTS TO COME TO FUCKING SEATTLE! Because we’re so far out of the way, because we’ve sucked for almost the entirety of this organization’s existence, and because the weather is fucking shit! Now you’re chopping off both of the organization’s arms and legs, tossing us a sword, and telling us to go fight?

Someone who WANTED to get fired, who went into his boss’s office and shat on his desk and motherfuckered everyone in the most public and ostentatious way possible couldn’t have done a better job than what Mather did at this meaningless online event. He name-drops just about everyone, and NOT in a good way; in fact, he has something derogatory to say about just about everyone.

The thing is, did he lie? As far as I can tell, no. He said what everyone was already thinking. We knew there was no chance that any of the high-level prospects were going to get a shot at the Major Leagues in 2020. We knew that Jarred Kelenic wouldn’t likely be called up until May of 2021, to ensure that the Mariners control his services through 2027. We knew, financially, the Mariners are in good shape, because they have a controlling stake in their own cable channel that earns them countless millions of dollars that they get to hide from the rest of the league (there’s no profit-sharing in Regional Sports Networks; that’s all M’s, baby!). But, you can’t say those things out loud! Major League Baseball has another huge collective bargaining agreement to work out with the player’s union very soon! Do you think the rest of the league wants this type of dirty laundry aired for all to see (and to be used against them)?!

What galls me is that Kevin Mather talked about how confident he is that the Mariners are going to be world champions with this group. First of all, don’t you God damn jinx it! Secondly, if you’re ostensibly so high on these players, why are you making it nearly impossible for them to want to stick around longer than they absolutely have to? Why do I envision some of these guys refusing to play, and forcing their way out of Seattle eventually? Why do I see those championship hopes slipping through our fingers like the sands of fucking time, because one way or another we’re going to shoot ourselves in the fucking foot?

That’s what this is: the ultimate act of self-sabotage. His comments are no good for the Seattle Mariners organization BECAUSE they are the truth. They are the truth and everyone knows it, because there are 29 other MLB organizations who feel the same way about their own players (the only difference is, the other 29 presidents aren’t so fucking STUPID as to speak these words into a recorded Zoom meeting – allegedly while not knowing that it was being recorded in the first place, because he’s old and technologically inept). In that sense, this is the most Mariners thing he could have possibly done. The Mariners are ALWAYS fucking things up for themselves, in new and profoundly shocking and moronic ways. It’s like we’re fucking allergic to winning!

I am usually inclined to give people a second chance, if they speak out of turn or let some small thing slip out in conversation, or if something is taken out of context, but we’re talking about a keynote speech. This isn’t something he just blurted into a hot mic; this is something he worked on and maybe even rehearsed. To not know that this would get out into the world is BEYOND arrogant and/or asinine, because EVERYTHING gets out into the world! Shit man, even Ted Cruz can’t sneak away to Cancun for a weekend – abandoning his state in its time of need like the miserable fucking snake oil salesman that he is – without his picture (ON THE PLANE) circulating throughout every corner of the Internet. You think, you, Kevin Mather, are somehow exempt from the world that is 2021?

Of course, I had completely forgotten about how Mather was wrapped up in that sexual harassment scandal (and somehow got away scot-free with his employment with the organization intact). I was going to say that even though this is his first strike (it would, in fact, be his second strike … that we are aware of), he needs to be fired immediately, because this goes above and beyond damaging to the Seattle Mariners. It’s fucking sabotage.

His apology (riddled with spelling and grammatical errors as it is; perhaps he needs an English interpreter to help him with his statements) is meaningless. It’s also the first time he’s lied to us in this entire ordeal. Those comments are his own, because they are also reflective of the Seattle Mariners’ organization. They come off of years of strategy meetings and conversations with the rest of the higher ups, formulating their plan on how to run this rebuild. He can work to make amends all he wants, but that needs to be done with a pink slip in his back pocket.

Kevin Mather clearly can’t be trusted with delicate, valuable information related to the Seattle Mariners. Furthermore, I don’t know of a damn thing he has EVER done that makes him worthy of keeping his job. The best thing you could say about Mather up to this point is that he managed to stay OUT of the news (again, aside from the sexual harassment scandal). That’s something Chuck Armstrong – his predecessor – couldn’t seem to accomplish, as he kept sticking his big foot in his mouth in seemingly every interview. But, to blow up whatever good will he’d built up in such spectacular fashion is akin to striking out the side on a single pitch.

ONETWOTHREESTRIKESYOU’REOUT, Kevin Mather. I know you’re only fluent in Dumb, but I trust you won’t need anyone else to spell it out for you to help you understand.

Why I Worry About The Carolina Panthers

The date:  May 7, 1994.

The location:  Seattle, Washington.

The situation:  Number 1 seed from Seattle in a do-or-die game against a bottom-feeder in the playoffs.

The matchup:  Seattle Supersonics vs. Denver Nuggets.

The result:  A 98-94 overtime defeat.

I won’t rehash the specifics, nor will I pull the iconic photo/video, as I’m sure any of you around at the time must be picturing the giant’s massive hands clutching the basketball while laying on the court, laughing maniacally.  I’ll just say this:  in 1994, the Seattle Supersonics were the consensus Best Team In The NBA (thanks to Michael Jordan “retiring”).  And, with that defeat, the Seattle Supersonics became the first Number 1 seed to ever lose to a Number 8 seed.  While that feat has happened a number of times since then, everyone will always remember the first time.  That’s just the way it works.  Dikembe Mutombo may or may not ever be a Hall of Famer, but he’ll always be remembered for this achievement.

The 1993/1994 Supersonics weren’t the best squad in team history, but you could argue that the 1994 playoffs were our best chance at winning an NBA title in my lifetime (dating back to 1981).  We had a 2-year window without Michael Jordan lurking in the Eastern Conference.  We blew year-one of that window in spectacular fashion.

As a fan of Seattle sports teams, I don’t know if I’ll ever get over my insecurities.  The Sonics teams from 1993 thru 1998 were some of the best teams in the league.  In the 1993 playoffs, we reached the Western Conference Finals as a 3-seed, only to get screwed out of our shot at a championship by the refs in Game 7 against the Phoenix Suns.  In 1994, we had the best record in the NBA by five games over second place.  In 1995, we had the 4-seed and again lost in the first round (though, admittedly, that team was pretty flawed).  In 1996, we were back to being the best in the Western Conference, our regular season record only overshadowed by the record-setting Bulls who went 72-10.  We would go on to lose in the Finals that year to those very same Bulls, and I’ll go to my grave believing that was the greatest team in NBA history.  In 1997, the Sonics were a 2-seed in the West, losing to the Rockets in the semis, 4-3.  Finally, in 1998, the Sonics were again a 2-seed in the West, losing to Shaq and the Lakers in 5 games in the semis.

That was the entirety of our championship window.  It was a spectacular six seasons, with the Sonics going 357-135 (that’s an average record of 59.5-22.5 per season).  The Sonics fired George Karl after that 1997/1998 season and fell into a death spiral shortly after.  And, what did we have to show for it?  Two oustings in the first round, two defeats in the second round, two trips to the Conference Finals, and a meager six games in the NBA Finals (with only two Finals victories).  Until these Seahawks teams under Pete Carroll came around, those were the greatest teams I’d ever rooted for in my lifetime.  And, yet, a lot of flukey shit led to that championship window closing without a dent in the history books.

***

The date:  October 22, 2001.

The location:  Bronx, New York.

The situation:  Team from Seattle with the best-ever regular season record in a do-or-die game against a team that won 21 fewer games that year.

The matchup:  Seattle Mariners vs. New York Yankees.

The result:  A 12-3 defeat to lose the series in five games.

I’ll give you that this isn’t really apples to apples when compared to the heartbreak of having a #1 seed lose to a #8 seed; but, we’re talking about the greatest regular season record in MLB history!  116 wins!  The second place team in the AL West – Oakland – won over 100 games and was FOURTEEN games back in the standings!

The Mariners had a championship window from 1995-2003.  In that time, we had four playoff appearances, losing in the ALCS three times and losing in the ALDS once.  In this 9-year window, there were two losing seasons and three other winning seasons where the Mariners DIDN’T make the playoffs (including back-to-back 93-win seasons where we were nipped by superior Athletics teams).

Baseball’s a different beast than most other sports.  It requires enduring success through a too-long regular season, followed by a hot spurt through a large handful of post-season games.  In the NBA, the best team almost always wins it all, thanks to the sheer number of teams granted admission into the playoffs and the number of games they’re supposed to play in every round.  In baseball, all you have to do is make it in and let the chips fall where they may.  The best team DOESN’T always win in MLB, that’s what you gotta remember.

The 2001 Mariners were the best team in franchise history, hands down.  And yet, they were made into mincemeat by the Yankees, who were “built for the post-season”.

Like the Sonics before them, this championship window by the Mariners closed with a whimper.  There hasn’t been a playoff team for the Mariners SINCE 2001.  While many believe 2015 will be the beginning of another Mariners championship window, that still remains to be seen.  162 games need to be played, against some fierce AL West competition.  So, we’ll see.

***

The Seahawks play the Panthers on January 10, 2015.  The Seahawks are the top seed in the NFC, and a consensus favorite to reach the Super Bowl with the New England Patriots of the AFC.  The Panthers are just the second team with a losing record to make the playoffs.  They defeated an injury-plagued Cardinals team in the first round.

Why am I worried about this game?  It’s the same reason why I SHOULD have been worried about the ’94 Nuggets and the 2001 Yankees.  Truth be told, that Nuggets series was my first real taste of the brutality that is being a sports fan.  There’s A LOT of heartache for not that much elation.  As a 13 year old basketball fan just starting to garner interest in the sport and follow it with some knowledge of the game, I was probably overwhelmingly confident in the Sonics going all the way.  Having the rug ripped out from under me was the start of a long, painful decline into the twisted wizard you see before you.  Until the Seahawks threw off the shackles I’d had wrapped around my mind in last year’s Super Bowl, I would go into these types of games EXPECTING to lose.  And, honestly, that feeling never really goes away.  I’m an abused pet living with new, kinder owners.  They’ve proven to be caring, loving people, but at the same time I still wince whenever an arm or a voice is raised.

The Seahawks SHOULD win this game.  If I were a more confident man, I’d go so far as to say the Seahawks WILL win this game.  In the entirety of the NFL playoff teams, the Panthers are the second-best option I’d choose for a Seahawks opponent (behind only the defeated Cardinals and their Lindley-esque shit offense).  While there is cause for real concern about this Panthers team (the defense is improved over the last month-plus, the rushing attack is improved with the return of Jonathan Stewart), it’s pretty obvious that this team is the most eminently beat-able in all of the NFC.  I was positively outraged at the notion that they’d go into Green Bay to play the Packers in the second round if Detroit had held on to beat Dallas last week.  Green Bay would throttle them by 40 points!  And WE’D have to battle a nasty defensive line of the Lions and a potentially explosive offense if they ever got their shit together.

As a quick aside:  don’t you think the #1 seed should be able to choose its opponent for the Divisional Round of the playoffs, pending the results of the Wild Card Round?  Why should we have to play an 11-5 Lions team (had they won) over a 7-8-1 Panthers team, simply because the Panthers were deemed to be a 4-seed while the superior Lions team a 6-seed?  When the NFL gets its own shit together and fixes the playoff system, maybe let’s make this a priority as well as never letting a team with a losing record host a playoff game, huh?

Anyway, getting back, my insecure fan-self is a little encouraged by the fact that there has already been a losing-record playoff team who defeated a playoff team with a superior record.  In fact, these loser teams are 2-1 in the playoffs, thanks to the 2010 Seahawks paving the way by defeating the Saints before going on to lose to the Bears in Chicago the following week.  BUT, what hasn’t happened – and what is rocking me to my very core as I sit and anxiously await tomorrow night’s game – is one of these loser teams going on the road and winning in the Divisional Round.

From the 1980s up until the Seahawks Super Bowl victory last year, there has been a bevy of reasons why Seattle sports teams have been laughingstocks.  Take, for instance, the first 20-or-so years of the Mariners playing professional baseball.  Or, the Seahawks almost moving to Los Angeles.  Or the Sonics signing Jim McIlvaine.  Or the Sonics drafting an endless string of worthless centers.  Or the Mariners getting crushed by the Yankees in the ALCS in back-to-back years.  Or the Seahawks getting referee’d to death in Super Bowl XL.  Or the Sonics being sold & uprooted after 40-some-odd years.  Or the best team in Seattle for the longest time being the women’s professional basketball team.  Or the Mariners plowing through a million managers over the last decade.  Or the fiasco with the Seahawks at the end of Holmgren’s tenure.  Or, the fact that all three franchises had – at one time or another – some of THE worst owners/general managers in all of professional sports (Ken Behring, Jeff Smulyan, Howard Schultz, Lincoln/Armstrong, Wally Walker, Tim Ruskell, Bill Bavasi).

I could go on and on with that list.  The 2013 Seahawks championship team has done the lord’s work in rectifying some of our past indiscretions.  But, a defeat to the Panthers a year later would do absolutely everything to undo all of that goodwill.

This current Seahawks unit is in the midst of a championship window that started in 2012 with a surprise late-season run into the playoffs.  When this window closes remains to be seen, but I think we can all agree it will be various degrees of open as long as Russell Wilson and the core is intact and still playing at a high level.  Whether that’s 5-10 years or more, the fact of the matter is:  these championship windows don’t grow on trees.  They can close in an instant and they may never reopen again in our lifetimes.  We can’t take these seasons for granted!

The Seahawks wrangled one championship and were 30-some-odd seconds away from fighting the 49ers for a second championship in the playoffs two years ago.  They currently sit poised in the catbird seat:  top seed in the NFC, with either Green Bay or Dallas being forced to come all the way out here in a potential NFC Championship showdown.  In spite of an early-season loss to the Cowboys at CenturyLink, we match up really well against both of those teams.  More importantly, WE’RE different than we were back in October.  I’ll be a lot more confident if we can just get this Divisional Round game out of the way.

The thing with the Panthers is:  they match up pretty well with us.  Earlier this year, we scratched and clawed our way to a 13-9 victory.  It took a late 4th quarter drive to finally score a touchdown and pull it out.  In the 2013 season opener, we scratched and clawed our way to a 12-7 victory.  It took a 4th quarter drive to finally score a touchdown; and a late 4th quarter fumble recovery to pull it out.  In 2012, we scratched and clawed our way to a 16-12 victory.  It took a late 3rd quarter drive to finally score a touchdown; a late 4th quarter goalline stand by our defense; and a later 4th quarter fumble recovery to pull it out.  Margin of victory for those three games:  4 1/3 points.  In the NFL, that’s nothing.

The notch in our belt is that all three of those games were on the road, in Carolina.  It’s notoriously difficult to win on the road, so you cherish any victory, even some ugly-ass shit like those games I just mentioned.  This game is in Seattle.  In the evening.  In front of what may be the rowdiest crowd we’ve seen all year (or, at least, since the week 1 showdown against the Packers).

Another notch in our belt is the level of competition the Panthers have beaten to get to this point.  The Panthers needed a 4-game winning streak to even make the playoffs.  If they would’ve lost any of these games, they would’ve been eliminated.  In those games, they faced the Saints, the Bucs, the Browns, and the Falcons.  The Saints had one of the worst defenses in football; they surrendered 41 points to the Panthers in New Orleans.  The Bucs were the very worst team in the NFL, earning the #1 draft pick in this year’s draft; they lost by 2 points to these very same Panthers.  The Browns were going with Johnny JamBoogie at quarterback, who left injured late in the first half; with Hoyer coming in in relief, the Browns would go on to lose by only 4 points to these very same Panthers.  The Falcons were just an absolute trainwreck on both sides of the football for most of this season, yet they would have made the playoffs with a win over the Panthers in week 17; they surrendered 34 points to the Panthers in Atlanta.  And, to top it all off, the Panthers hosted the Arizona Cardinals in the playoffs last week, taking full advantage of the Lindley-pocalypse (Apoca-Lindlypse?) to get to this point.

Not that the Seahawks had all that difficult of a road to hoe in getting the top seed the final six weeks of the season (only two playoff teams faced, and both of those teams were the Carson Palmer-less Cardinals), but I’d say we’ve looked MUCH more impressive in getting to this point.

Here’s the bottom line:  the Seahawks have the best defense in football.  Yes, we’re particularly good against the pass, but we’re also among the best against the run (indeed, we’re THE best against the run of the remaining playoff teams, but that’s neither here nor there).  If we can prevent the Panthers from gashing us in the run game, they should stand no chance.  On the flipside, while they have a good front seven, they’re not unstoppable.  We should be able to do what we want to do on the ground, while at the same time taking advantage of holes in their secondary.  An important thing to note is this game features the two very best middle linebackers in all of football with Luke Kuechly and Bobby Wagner.  Overall, though, the Seahawks have MUCH more talent from top to bottom than the Panthers.  In fact, the Seahawks hold a distinct advantage in nearly every position group.  And, if all that wasn’t enough, Cam Newton is a staggering bundle of injuries being held together by duct tape and painkillers.  There is ZERO reason why the Seahawks should lose this game.

And yet, it’s not entirely impossible.  There was zero reason why the 1994 Supersonics should lose to the Nuggets in five games.  There was zero reason why the 2001 Mariners should fail to make the World Series.  Sometimes, shit just happens.  Sometimes, a matchup materializes that goes against everything one team stands for.  Sometimes, players just have a bad day.

The Panthers have been a tough matchup for the Seahawks for the last three years now.  Regardless of the fact that those prior three games were all played in Carolina, we’re still talking about a mini version of ourselves.

  • Mobile quarterbacks
  • Unheralded offensive lines
  • Lack of game-breaking talent in the receiving corps
  • Tough, hard-nosed running backs
  • Underrated and stout defensive lines
  • Freakishly athletic linebackers
  • Mostly-conservative gameplans & coaches (in spite of Ron’s riverboat ways in 2013 and Pete’s alleged “big balls”)

In the NFL, it only takes one bad game to derail an entire season.  That in and of itself should be enough to terrify us to no end.  I don’t necessarily fear the Cowboys/Packers because I think we match up exceedingly well against them.  Their defenses aren’t anything special, and their offensive attacks play right into our L.O.B. hands.

But, the Panthers pose a tough matchup BECAUSE they’re so similar to us.  Because their defense can harass Russell Wilson and potentially knock him out of the game.  The Panthers – more than any other team remaining in these playoffs – have the capability to hold our offense in check.  And, if they do that, and it comes down to a battle of who wins the fourth quarter, then you’re looking at no better than a flip of a coin.

I don’t like that.  And neither should you.  We JUST have to get past this one game and I’ll feel more at ease.  The thing is, I don’t think anyone’s taking this game seriously.  I know, for the most part, fans are already booking plans for the NFC Championship Game.  But, they’re going to feel pretty damn stupid if we reach the end of Saturday night, with the Panthers celebrating on our field like the Nuggets did on our court 20-some-odd years ago.

Here’s to hoping the Seahawks take this game a little more seriously than the 12th Man.  If they don’t, we’ll be looking at the absolute worst defeat in franchise history, and a defeat far surpassing those aforementioned Sonics & Mariners achievements of yore.  2014 will be just another drop in the bucket of Seattle being Sports Hell.

Mariners Sign Fernando Rodney To Be Their Closer For The Next Two Years

It’s been a little over seven weeks since the last time I wrote about the Mariners.  And they have been THE BEST seven weeks of my entire life!  Le sigh!

Of course, all good things have to come to an end, so let’s see if I can find my place in this offseason.

The last thing I wrote about was Franklin Gutierrez re-signing.  This took place during a period of relative activity in this Mariners offseason.  We hired our field manager in early November, and then nothing happened for a month, and then in December we had the blockbuster Robinson Cano signing, the Corey Hart signing, the Logan Morrison trade, all the talk about possibly trading Taijuan Walker (and/or others) for David Price, and then Guti.  Over a span of two weeks, we all got to be cautiously optimistic, while knowing there were still MANY more moves that needed to be made if this team TRULY wanted to contend, as opposed to making it appear like they wanted to contend.

Since Guti?  The Mariners were supposedly trying to sign that Masahiro Tanaka pitcher from Japan (he ended up signing with the Yankees).  The Mariners were possibly going to make Tony La Russa their president (they ended up, instead, going with someone in-house).  The Mariners signed a backup catcher in John Buck.  The Mariners signed starting pitcher Scott Baker to a minor league deal (with a guarantee only if he makes the Major League squad).  And Chuck Armstrong finally retired.  THAT is your Mariners news in a nutshell for the last seven weeks.  Oh, and to make room on the 40-man roster, the Mariners gave Carlos Peguero to the Royals for practically nothing.

What started out as a fantastic start to an offseason ended up being, pretty much, the ENTIRE offseason.  I do the heavy lifting so you don’t have to, my friends.

Which brings us to yesterday, where we learned Fernando Rodney signed a 2-year, $14 million deal.  His career has been spotty to say the least, he will be 37 years old by the time the season starts, and he’s really hanging his hat on one amazing season where he had 48 saves and a sub-1.00 ERA in 2012.  He was also pretty good last year, but I dunno.

He throws hard, he can be a little wild, and he’s prone to some pretty fucked up meltdowns.  Does he remind you of anyone?  Does he remind you of every closer the Mariners have had since the dawn of time?

Relievers tend to fluctuate from season-to-season, so it’s impossible to predict how well they’re going to do.  If we get Good Fernando Rodney, then we’ve just improved our bullpen a great deal.  We move a solid Danny Farquhar into the 8th inning role.  That pushes Yoervis Medina back into the earlier innings with Wilhelmsen, Furbush, and whoever else.  I’m pretty high on Farquhar’s abilities and predict he’ll be closing games again for this team before too long; but in the meantime if this means we have one of the best 8th inning guys in the A.L., then I’m okay with that.  All of our other bullpen guys could range from outstanding to out-of-baseball and it wouldn’t shock me, so I won’t be holding my breath anytime soon.

Right now, I put this move ahead of the Mariners signing Jose Mesa, but behind signing Arthur Rhodes (the first time).

Also, pitchers and catchers report on February 12th.  That’s right, next week.  God damn, the baseball season is too fucking long.

The Mariners Are The Abomination Of Obama’s Nation

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?

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.

Shoot Me Now: The Mariners Are Still Terrible, May 2013 Edition

I was a little more fired up at the end of April when the season was still somewhat fresh and the Mariners were five games under .500.  Now, it’s the end of May (go with me on this) and at the end of May the Mariners are seven games under .500 (in reality, today is June 3rd, and after a 2-game losing streak, the M’s have fallen to nine games under .500).

The story of the 2013 Mariners thus far – through two months & change – boils down to the veterans on this team.  The veteran hitters are (for the most part) getting the job done.  The veteran pitchers are (for the most part) sucking my will to live.

No one wanted to see the season turn out like this.  Of all the possible outcomes for the 2013 season, this is probably the second-worst of all scenarios.  They rank as follows:

  1. Team is in playoff contention, young players carry the load
  2. Team struggles, young players carry the load
  3. Team is in playoff contention, veterans carry the load
  4. Team struggles, veterans carry the load
  5. Team is the worst in baseball, everyone struggles, organization renews their dedication to Howard Lincoln & Chuck Armstrong for the next 15 years

The best hitter on this team is Kendrys Morales, who is on a one-year deal.  At the moment, he’s batting .300 with 8 homers, 16 doubles, and a team-leading 33 RBI.  He’s the only player worth a damn when it comes to hitting with runners in scoring position, and unlike so many other veterans, he hasn’t taken a huge nosedive upon being sentenced to Safeco Field.  In fact, take a look at his home/road splits through 55 games played:

  • Home:  .323/.388/.473, 8 doubles, 2 homers, 18 RBI in 25 games
  • Road:  .282/.349/.504, 8 doubles, 6 homers, 15 RBI in 30 games

Regardless of where he plays, he’s an on-base machine.  OF COURSE the Mariners should make him Priority #1 in the offseason.  But, what if he gets an unbeatable offer elsewhere?  Or, what if he decides to accept an equal or inferior offer elsewhere because he just doesn’t want to play for the Mariners?  I mean, let’s face it, it’s not exactly like Seattle is some great destination for athletes.  MAYBE if the Mariners were in the Seahawks’ position, where they’re on the cusp of immortality, they could use that as some leverage to get quality people to sign here.  But, the Mariners are one of the worst organizations in baseball, and as such they are free agent repellent.

Kendrys Morales figures to be one of the hottest commodities this offseason.  Michael Morse, on the other hand, figures to be right in our wheelhouse.

Obviously, Morse isn’t in Morales’ league when it comes to hitting, but one positive note is Morse’s ability to hit in Safeco:

  • Home:  .273/.345/.500, 2 doubles, 5 homers, 10 RBI in 20 games
  • Road:  .237/.302/.443, 2 doubles, 6 homers, 11 RBi in 25 games

You like to see that.  Even though we’re talking about a small sample size, it’s nice to see a couple of guys who can hit anywhere.  What you don’t like, when it comes to Morse, is the fact that he has been twice injured this season to the point where he’s been forced to sit for a few days.  Not to the point where he needed/needs to go on the DL, but still.  Interruptions to his time on the field isn’t good.  Remember why we gave up on Morse in the first place:  he couldn’t stay healthy.  Remember that he’s only had one season where he was able to play consistently without getting injured.  I don’t doubt the guy’s toughness, or ability to play through pain, but baseball is tough enough to succeed in when you’re 100% pain-free.  How can we expect Morse to produce at a reasonably high level going forward if he can’t stay on the field?

Raul Ibanez was one of our best players in the month of May, batting .297/.328/.703, thanks to his insane hot streak, spurred on by playing in New Yankees Stadium.  7 homers, 18 RBI in 17 games, out of a guy who we figured would languish on the bench and be lucky if he played once or twice a week.  In both May and April, Ibanez has played in more games than he hasn’t.  For now, I think the team is using him appropriately, but I think over the next couple months they might want to work in a few more off days if they want him to still be good by the end of the year.  Then again, if we’re still playing Ibanez regularly in September, something has REALLY gone off the rails.  For right now, though, as long as Ibanez is producing at a high level, I don’t think you can justify sitting him.  After all, it’s not like he’s “blocking” anyone better from playing.  If any outfielder in Tacoma were worth a damn, they’d figure out a way to oust a 41 year old guy with no defensive abilities.

Jason Bay – the other aging veteran bench player who has been thrust into more of a regular role thanks to injuries & incompetence – didn’t have quite the amazing month of May from a batting average standpoint, but he still managed 4 homers and 7 RBI in 19 games.  It’s not anything to blow your load over, but it’s more than you’re getting from the bulk of the younger guys.

Like, Michael Saunders, for one.  His month of May was the beans!  .187/.282/.297, with 2 homers, 4 doubles, and a mind-boggling 35 strikeouts in 25 games.  Maybe it was just a rough patch, or maybe he has regressed back to his old suck-ass form.  If he bounces back with a quality June, I’d be willing to believe it was just a cold streak.  If he doesn’t bounce back at all (or doesn’t bounce back until September, which is essentially the same thing), then I’m officially over Michael Saunders once again.

Kyle Seager is still chugging along, so that gives us one quality young bat.  To date, he’s got a line of .277/.342/.465 with 17 doubles and 7 homers, with fewer strikeouts than both Saunders and Morse despite playing considerably more games.  When you factor in all the young bats (Ackley, Montero, Smoak, Saunders, Seager) who were supposed to comprise The Future of this organization, one out of five has turned out to be someone we can count on.  In baseball, that’s a .200 batting average, which incidentally is SO Mariners.

On the brighter side of things, Brendan Ryan had this for the month of May:  .274/.303/.411, which has brought his overall season line to:  .211/.264/.279.  So help me, I want to believe in Brendan Ryan SO BAD!

The month of May was most notable for abandoning some of the under-performing children on this team.  Jesus Montero was sent down to Tacoma, replaced by Jesus Sucre.  Sucre has already endeared himself to Mariners fans by being 50-times the catcher Montero was.  Montero has already torn his meniscus and will miss 4-8 weeks.  Four weeks puts us into July.  Eight weeks puts us into August.  I would say, depending on his ability to recover, we might have seen the last of Jesus Montero in 2013.  Hope he likes rehabbing.

A few days later, Dustin Ackley was sent down to Tacoma, replaced by Nick Franklin.  Franklin has already homered twice in his first six games, with four walks tacked onto his four total hits.  Ackley, to his credit, has started out ablaze in triple A, batting .407/.500/.593 in his first six games, with a homer, two doubles, and 5 walks on top of his 11 total hits.  Granted, they just finished a series in Colorado Springs, so let’s see what things look like in a few weeks (when they’re not playing in the thin air of a bandbox).  But, it’s encouraging.  Hopefully, he continues to thrash and brings that confidence back up to Seattle with him.

Finally, Brandon Maurer was sent down to Tacoma, replaced with Jeremy Bonderman.  Bonderman, just yesterday, gave up 7 runs in 4.2 innings in his first start in the Majors in forever.  With that performance alone, Bonderman just soared into a first place tie with Joe Saunders and Aaron Harang for Current Mariners I Hate The Most.

To be perfectly fair, this 3/5 of the starting rotation is beyond pathetic.  I never would’ve thought that I’d long for the days of Jeff Weaver & Horacio Ramirez.  Instead of the Saunders/Harang/Bonderman Triad of Shit, couldn’t we open this thing up in a more creative way?  I say, create a reality show.  We’ll call it Celebrity Hurler and we’ll get guys like Bret Michaels, Meatloaf, Greg Brady, Monica Lewinsky, and the bones of Al Jolson and they’ll all compete to be America’s Next Top Celebrity Pitcher or some damn thing.  I’m in!  Attach the Mariners to this fiasco of a trainwreck and let the top three contestants start in place of Saunders/Harang/Bonderman.  Because in all honesty, none of those celebrities could be any worse.

The lone positives (there are two of them, they’re not exactly LONE) remain King Felix and Iwakuma.  I couldn’t be happier for the both of them; I only wish that one of them were starting instead of Bonderman yesterday, considering yesterday’s was the first game I’d seen televised in quite some time.

The bullpen has been less-than-stellar, especially with Wilhelmsen’s hiccups these past couple of weeks.  He’s had three blown saves in that time (in between some solid outings, so it’s not a total Brandon League-esque meltdown) and overall this season his strikeout numbers have taken a huge dip.  At this point, you have to wonder what the market is for a guy like Wilhelmsen and you have to wonder what kinds of players a team might be willing to give up to get him for the stretch run.

This season just keeps going and going, doesn’t it?  I’m no happier about it than you are.  Here’s to a bunch of home games in the month of June; let’s see if this team can win more games than they lose for a change.

The Worst People In Seattle Sports History, Part III

We continue from Saturday’s post on all the hated Seahawks, which was continued from Friday’s post on all the hated Mariners.

Seattle Supersonics

A lot of real obvious candidates here.  It’s just a matter of organizing them in the proper order.

I, along with many of you, have Howard Schultz smack dab at the top of this list.  In fact, I would have to say – even though it’s been nearly five years since the team moved, and even though it’s been nearly seven years since he sold the team to those OKC goons – that Howard Schultz is Public Enemy Number 1 (regardless of sport) in the Most Hated Seattle Sports Figure list.

Really quick, my top 5 looks like this:  1. Schultz, 2. Behring, 3. Lincoln & Armstrong, 4. Bennett, 5. Bavasi

Easy, right?  For the record, Lincoln & Armstrong are a package deal; they have morphed into this singular blob of incompetence.  Also for the record, Ruskell is a close 6th on that list.  My most hated PLAYER is and might always be Richie Sexson, because I’m irrational like that.

Anyway, getting back, I think it should be obvious why Schultz heads this list.  He’s the worst.  THE.  WORST.  First, let’s just get this out of the way:  he had NO BUSINESS getting involved with the NBA.  He should have just stuck with his season tickets and his corporate sponsorships and been happy with that.  He didn’t have the stomach to properly run the organization; instead, he tried to run it like a business.  This isn’t Starbucks, this is sports.  It’s a completely different ballgame (so to speak).  If your goal is to buy a team and try to turn a profit every year, then congratulations, you’re the Seattle Mariners.  You go forever without winning, you scale back payroll, you trade away your superstars for nothing, and you do just enough to turn a small profit every year (which, hey, beats losing money).

If your goal is to run a winning franchise, then guess what?  You can’t be all-consumed by the money coming in.  Turning a profit can’t be goal #1.  It’s got to be a residual from sustained success.

The Seattle Supersonics, as far back as I can remember, were a well-oiled machine.  Yeah, they’d have some down years, but they’d bounce right back and be contenders in short order.  That includes a lot of the 70s, most of the 80s, and most of the 90s.  Then, Howard Schultz bought the team in January of 2001.  In the five full seasons the Sonics were owned by Schultz, they made the playoffs twice:  once as a 7th seed and once as a 3-seed.  Both times, they lost to a far superior franchise, the San Antonio Spurs.  In the other seasons, the Sonics ended up 10th, 11th, and 12th in the West.

Schultz was involved with a controversial trade of Gary Payton.  He also let head coach (and Mr. Sonic) Nate McMillan walk (over to Portland where he coached the hell out of a mostly-mediocre team).  He did battle with the local & state governments over getting financing for a new arena, but once that failed he essentially threw up his hands and gave up.

Schultz had no interest in keeping the Sonics in Seattle.  If he had, he wouldn’t have sold them to a group that so clearly wanted to move the team out of state.  He can sit there and pretend he had “no idea”; he can cry out about how they “misrepresented” themselves when they purchased the team; but if he’s being honest then he’s the biggest fucking moron the world has ever known.

Here’s the thing:  Schultz isn’t being honest when he gripes about how he was duped (along with the rest of Seattle).  I’d like to point out that from the moment this deal was made, I knew those fucks from OKC would do everything in their power to move this team.  If I know that, and I’m just some yahoo fan with a pottymouth, then Howard Schultz sure as shit knew that too.  He just didn’t care.  All he cared about was receiving $350 million for a team he paid $200 million to acquire five and a half years earlier.

And that’s all you need to know about the Howard Schultz Era.  He was a greedy old man who let the Sonics move away.  He ran the team like a business, but not like a business he gave two shits about.  He ran this team like Ken Lay ran Enron.  Schultz may not have faced decades in prison, but he probably should.  If I had it my way, he’d be rotting in prison until the Sonics return to Seattle, but that’s neither here nor there.

If we’re jumping on the whole Sonics leaving Seattle saga, I’d rank former Seattle mayor Greg Nickels number two on this list.  That spineless weasel forced an agreement down our throats letting those OKC fucks take the team while the city received $45 million in return for the last two years of the KeyArena lease.  Had we forced them to honor those final two years, who’s to say what might have happened?  But, he was never officially a member of the Sonics organization, so fuck Greg Nickels.

Truth be told, I hate Clay Bennett’s puppetmaster – David Stern – far more than Mr. Bennett himself, but we’re sticking with a theme here of people specifically related to the Sonics organization.  Clay Bennett’s a rat bastard, to be sure, and when all is said and done I’d like to know what kind of buttfucking arrangement he has with Stern to make them so buddy-buddy; his blowjobs must be SOMETHING ELSE.  As such, now he does whatever David Stern says, essentially making them both one and the same.

It takes a lot of work to keep up a lie for so long.  Bennett bought the team in July of 2006.  Nearly two years went by before we finally got the official word that his intentions all along were to move the team to OKC; and even then, “official word” came in the form of e-mails to his cronies that were uncovered in the days & weeks leading up to the team leaving.  To the bitter end, Bennett affirmed his bullshit, and he has been rewarded with one of the best and most exciting teams in the NBA today.  There is no justice in this world if that team ever wins a championship.

From what I’ve been told, Wally Walker has been instrumental in the behind-the-scenes efforts to bring the team back to Seattle.  Also, from what I’ve been told, Wally Walker was dead-set against selling to those OKC fucks in the first place.  Nevertheless, Wally Walker appears on this list, because his tenure as GM of the Sonics was rocky at best.  You can’t have a Most Hated list without having a few GMs appear first.

For the record, yeah, Walker has been instrumental in working with Hansen & Ballmer, but he was also instrumental in getting Howard Schultz to be our primary owner in the first place to start this whole fucking mess.  It’s complicated with Wally Walker; he tries his fucking best, but God bless him, in the end he’s just a fuck up who can’t seem to ever get things right.

He joined the Sonics in 1994, right as this team was on its rise to the elite of the NBA.  In 1996, the Sonics were in the Finals, losing to the greatest team of all time, the 1996 Chicago Bulls.  From that moment, this franchise started on its long, slow decline to mediocrity, and it all starts with the next name on this list:  Jim McIlvaine.

Jim McIlvaine was signed to a 7-year, $33.6 million deal in July of 1996.  To that point, Jim McIlvaine had been a worthless pile of crap.  He would go on to continue being a worthless pile of crap.  So, not only was he overpaid and useless, but he also served as a reminder that this ownership group – and this general manager in particular – would rather reward potential from outside the organization than reward the superstars already IN this organization.  Shawn Kemp was resentful and rightly demanded a new contract.  He was denied, so less than a year after signing McIlvaine, Kemp demanded a trade.  Just before the 1997/1998 season, Shawn Kemp was traded for the NEXT name on this list:  Vin Baker.

One could argue that the Sonics dodged a bullet by trading away Shawn Kemp.  He went on to Cleveland, sat on his ass during the Lockout, got fat, and was never the same.  One could also argue that had the Sonics rewarded their budding superstar, he would’ve been kept in shape and kept in line by team leader, Gary Payton.  In Cleveland, Kemp was the big kahuna, and nobody was going to tell him what to do.  There was veteran leadership in Seattle that could’ve prevented such a fate.

Oh yeah, by the way, don’t forget that Vin Baker also sat on his ass during the Lockout, also got fat, and was a huge drunk to boot.  So, why didn’t this veteran leadership keep HIM in line like I’m saying they would’ve kept Kemp in line?  I dunno, probably because you can’t rationalize with a fucking alcoholic!  Also, probably because you have to have the Want To in order to succeed.  Vin Baker lacked that passion, that drive.  He took his solace in a bottle and that’s all there is to it.

Mind you, this chain of events all started with Wally Walker meddling with a good thing, then bungling things away.  More often than not, Walker made moves just to make moves.  Sometimes, you just need to let a team settle and grow on its own.  You don’t have to keep adding and subtracting to make things JUST RIGHT.  Just leave it be and hope things shake out as best as they can!  If it ain’t broke, don’t fucking fix it!

Any number of bumbling big man buffoons could also make this Most Hated list (Calvin Booth, Jerome James, Robert Swift, Johan Petro, Mouhamed Sene), but that would ignore the real problem with the Sonics at the turn of the century:  Rick Sund.  Remember him?  God, I wish I didn’t.  Rick Sund took over for Wally Walker (as Walker was promoted to president or some damn thing) in 2001 and proceeded over one of the longest stretches of ineptitude in team history.

Seemingly every year, this team needed a big man.  Seemingly every year, this team went after a big man, either spending an ungodly amount of money in free agency, or by squandering a high draft pick.  Seemingly every year, this team failed to bring in a big man of any quality, and so seemingly every year this team struggled under Rick Sund.

Finally, there’s a name on this list I won’t ever forget.  Kendall Gill.  Back when Bob Whitsitt was still in charge, he traded a number of quality supporting players (Dana Barros, Eddie Johnson) to the Charlotte Hornets for Kendall Gill.  In his previous two years, Gill averaged 20.5 and 16.9 points per game.  We brought him in to be our starting shooting guard next to Gary Payton.  As chance would have it, he arrived on the scene in 1993/1994, as the Sonics had the best record in the Western Conference.  We would go on to lose in the first round to the Denver Nuggets.  The very next season, this team would make the playoffs again, and once again it would lose in the first round.

I’m not blaming it ALL on Kendall Gill, but he sure as shit was not a good fit for this team.  I don’t think it’s a coincidence at all that as soon as he was traded (back to Charlotte for Hersey Hawkins and David Wingate in June of 1995), the Sonics would go on to make a run to the NBA Championship.

Gill didn’t get along with coaches or teammates.  He was a ballhog who shot too much.  Oh yeah, and he SUCKED DICK.  He immediately saw a dip in his scoring average (14.1 and 13.7 points per game in a Sonics uniform).  His pissy attitude didn’t endear him to Seattle fans either.  In short, Kendall Gill was a worthless dickhole and I can’t believe he managed to have such a sustained NBA career, considering what a joke he was.

The Worst People In Seattle Sports History, Part I

You’ll forgive me if I’m not exactly in the most chipper of moods.  That’s what happens when some useless cunt brings bedbugs into your apartment building and you spend a sleepless week itching, cleaning, and bagging up all your shit.  Suffice it to say, I’m not exactly looking on the bright side of things.

I actually had this idea before.  It was supposed to be a series of posts dedicated to the most loathed sports figures in Seattle history.  Over two years have passed and I’ve let it go by the wayside, but while it has been neglected, the idea has not been forgotten.

The primary reason for this site’s existence is that notion that there is a Culture of Losing in Seattle.  Losing has become commonplace.  Losing has been the norm.  And losing has been accepted, which is most damning of all.  It’s the main reason why I can’t stand most Seattle sports fans, because they’ve cultivated this Everybody Gets A Trophy attitude about the sports they follow.  Granted, it’s probably HEALTHIER; it’s a hard fact of life that we certainly take sports too seriously.  But, it still pisses me off.

Oh, good try sweetie!

It doesn’t matter who wins, all that matters is how you play the game!

Well, we didn’t win, but if you had a good time that’s all that matters!

You played hard out there fellas, now let’s all go out and get some ice cream!

There’s always next year!

This is what I have to put up with whenever a Seattle team ends its season.  Nobody in Seattle ever expects to do well, so when a Seattle team makes the playoffs THAT’S a thrill in and of itself!  Like just making the playoffs is “good enough”.  Sure, winning a championship would be an incredible bonus, but isn’t being one of the top 4-8 teams in the league reward enough, you guys?

But, I suppose it’s not all the fans’ fault.  I mean, THIS is all they’ve known.  These shitty Seattle teams who have always let us down every year since 1979.  Yes, the level of shittiness fluctuates, but they’re shitty all the same because it’s been over 30 years since we’ve tasted the sweet nectar of championship victory in this city.

I have a list of people here – athletes, GMs, and owners – who are more or less universally despised.  My list is by no means complete, and I encourage anyone who has names to add to come forth and state why you feel that way.  I may eventually return to my “Seattle Hates …” series and single out these losers in their own individual posts, but for now I thought I’d just list as many as I can think of and go from there.

Seattle Mariners

The Mariners are far-and-away leading the pack of the most hated Seattle sports figures.  It’s almost impossible to rank them, but I’m going to give it a shot.

This hasn’t always been the case, but it’s definitely true today:  the most loathed Mariners figures of all time are now Howard Lincoln and Chuck Armstrong.  I’ve written about these two before, so I’ll keep this brief.  Rest assured, it’ll be a happy day in Seattle history when the team is sold and these two lame-asses are shit-canned.  Why they haven’t resigned in shame years ago is beyond me.

Time makes the heart grow fonder is the famous quote by some guy.  In this case, time makes the heart grow less enraged.  At one point, I would argue that no one could possibly be hated more than Bobby Ayala.  Looking back on it, it probably wasn’t fair.  Then again, I’m sitting here with my eyes closed and I can still picture it:

Ayala hurls a split-fingered fastball that hangs in the middle of the plate as he falls off of the left side of the mound.  Opposing Batter X takes a mighty hack and launches the ball into the Kingdome seats.  Ayala turns to watch the ball leave the yard as the cascading boos provide the perfect soundtrack to the four opposing runners trotting across home plate.  Ayala, takes his cap off and wipes his sweaty brow with his sleeve as Lou Pinella walks out of the dugout, pointing at his left arm.

Bobby Ayala was kind of a joke (seriously, what grown man goes by the name “Bobby”), but the target of our vitriol shouldn’t have stopped with him.  Bobby Ayala represents the total and utter futility of those Mariners bullpens from 1995 … really through 2001.  In the mid-to-late 90s, those bullpens were terrible.  Granted, we were playing in a bandbox known as the Kingdome, but still.  Even after we left that concrete prison and moved into the pitcher’s paradise that is Safeco, and even after we drastically upgraded our bullpen talent with guys like Jeff Nelson, Arthur Rhodes, and Kaz Sasaki, our bullpen STILL let us down.  Nevertheless, you rarely hear about Seattle fans bashing The Sheriff.  You almost NEVER hear people killing Rhodes or Sasaki.  You might get some grumbling about Heathcliff Slocumb, but who are you madder at:  the pitcher who wasn’t any good, or the bumbling idiots who traded two studs (Varitek and Lowe) for the pitcher who wasn’t any good?

Nope, the hatred always comes back to Bobby Ayala.  To this day, I don’t understand it.  But, at the time, back in the day, I could certainly condone it.

A more-recent villain in this saga of the Mariners sucking is Bill Bavasi.  I know, for me, he’s one of my most hated Seattle sports figures of all time (not involved with the Sonics leaving Seattle, that is).  This website is pretty much a love letter to how much I can’t stand that guy; I don’t know if I’ve ever gone more than a few weeks without referencing him and lamenting how terrible he is at life.  At this point, it goes without saying.  But, if you need any fuel, I suggest taking a look at his very large section of idiocy.

I don’t really have the heart to do the research on these next few guys to see who was ACTUALLY the worst as a Mariner, but I’ll give you my opinion on who I disliked the most.

I’ll start with Richie Sexson.  He was the first installment in my “Seattle Hates …” series, so I won’t go too in depth here.  What I will say is that it has always boggled my mind a little bit that Adrian Beltre never saw the same amount of invective.  He made more money than Sexson, he signed for more years, and he was coming off of this 2004 season with the Dodgers:

200 hits, 48 homers, 121 RBI, .334 batting average, 1.017 OPS

Here is what he averaged in five seasons with the Mariners:

150 hits, 21 homers, 79 RBI, .266 batting average, .759 OPS

I don’t care what anyone else thinks, I’m calling Steroids on this bullshit not going to make wild accusations about something I know nothing about, even though this guy doesn’t pass the smell test by any means.  For funsies, here is what Beltre averaged in the three seasons since he left Seattle:

176 hits, 32 homers, 103 RBI, .314 batting average, .912 OPS

Are you kidding me?  OK, maybe that steroids crack was out of line, but COME ON!  How are you, as supposed Mariners fans, not enraged by this?  You boo and throw money at A-Rod decades after he left for an insane deal with the Rangers … why aren’t you fucking raining down sandbags at this fucking gold-bricker???  Adrian Beltre is a fucking bullshit artist and I’m leading the bandwagon to turn the tide against him; who’s with me?  Good defense at third base?  Fuck you, go home and play with your kids.  You were brought in here to fucking hit.  You hit with the Dodgers, you hit with the Red Sox, you’ve hit with the Rangers.  Man up and quit blaming the stadium for your insecurities you fucking mental midget.

Up next, we have Chone Figgins.  Who was a much better player when everyone thought his first name was pronounced “Ch-own”.  He signed a 4-year deal and sucked more and more every year he was on this team.  What’s worse, he didn’t appear to be even remotely sorry for the fact that he was the most over-paid piece of shit in the Major Leagues.  You’d hear stories about how hard he was working behind the scenes, but then you’d watch him play and what would you see?  An emotionless pile of shit striking out.  An emotionless pile of shit letting a ground ball go right past him.  An emotionless pile of shit unable to catch a routine fly ball.  Then, after the game, whenever he’d consent to an interview, you’d hear about how he needed MORE playing time to “play his way out of it”.  Or, if by the grace of fucking God he managed to have one of his three good games as a Mariner, he’d chirp his fucking head off after the game, talking about how he’s “still got it” and how he should be playing every day.  What a motherfucker.  To the bitter end, he left here thinking that he was a legit Major Leaguer.  I suppose that’s why he was released by the Miami Marlins in Spring Training this year.

Chone Figgins is a guy who grabbed his big payday, then proceeded to dog it until he was run out of town.  He didn’t give a shit!  He got his money and that’s all he cared about.  Now, he gets to sit on his ass while making upwards of $9 million for doing absolutely nothing.

Carlos Silva is another fan favorite, if by Fan Favorite I mean guy who we’d like to tar and feather.  He was supposed to be this adequate ground baller who would earn his money tenfold by pitching in the cavernous Safeco Field.  Instead, he got shelled, constantly.  And since he was signed for so long (4 years) and for so much money ($48 million), we had to give him every opportunity to try and turn things around.  Imagine it:  you and me and most everyone we know will live our entire lives scraping by like a dog on the streets; meanwhile Carlos Silva received nearly $50 million to suck dick.  Kinda makes you want to stop following sports, doesn’t it?

I’m going to wrap up this Mariners section with some rapid-fire.  Because it’s going on far too long and because I’ve got other things to do.

Jeff Cirillo was brought in after our 116-win season to lock down third base.  He was supposed to be one of the final pieces to push us over the top as a championship contender.  Instead, he was terrible.  My booze-addled mind has mostly blacked out the Jeff Cirillo stint as a Mariner, so bully for me.

Alex Rodriguez is a different animal entirely, but I can’t leave him off this list.  Where he differs from the rest is that – as a player wearing a Mariners uniform – he was universally beloved.  A-Rod was on the fast track to being as beloved as Ken Griffey Jr.  And, had he taken less money to remain a Mariner (or, had the Mariners ponied up a proper offer, depending on which story you choose to believe), A-Rod would PROBABLY be #1 on the all-time favorite Seattle sports figure list.  Instead, the moment he signed that 10-year, $250 million deal and put on a Texas Rangers uniform, A-Rod was Public Enemy #1.

Not by me, mind you.  Even at the time, I didn’t understand the sentiment.  Who WOULDN’T take that deal?  It was the biggest deal in MLB history!  How can you fault a guy for accepting that deal when it’s universally known that the Mariners weren’t able to come CLOSE to matching?  On top of that, the deal essentially crippled the Rangers and it took him until 2009 to finally win a World Series.  He’s been a laughingstock everywhere he’s been, he doesn’t appear to know how to relate to people, he has an addiction to strip clubs and banging chicks with muscular, dude-like bodies, and – oh yeah – he’s a steroids cheat.  Even if you don’t think he would’ve helped us win a World Series in 2001-2003, don’t you think we kinda dodged a bullet by NOT having him embarrass us seemingly every year?

In recent years, there have been any number of hated Mariners, as this franchise has found new depths of ineptitude.  Miguel Olivo, Justin Smoak, Jesus Montero, Jeff Weaver, Horacio Ramirez, Erik Bedard, Brandon League, Jose Lopez, Yuniesky Betancourt, Brad Wilkerson, Eric Byrnes, Kenji Johjima, Casey Kotchman, Rob Johnson, Ian Snell, Jack Cust, Hector Noesi, Blake Beavan … just to name a bunch.  As long as there are losing Mariners teams, there will always be people to hate.

I’m going to stop here and continue with the other teams another time.  This has been a lot more involved than I originally anticipated.

The Howard Lincoln Arena Deal Interview

Very good information in this interview done by Art Thiel.  Here’s the transcript.  It goes without saying, it’s about fucking time Howard Lincoln got off his ass and did this thing.  If you continue to hide behind press releases and flippant “rue the day” comments from the team president, your image is going to be tarnished to say the least.  Why he didn’t come out with this type of an interview months ago, it’s beyond my comprehension.

I’ll say this, I can respect where the Mariners are coming from – to a point – but I still feel like they’re both fudging the numbers in their favor and also not giving us the whole story.  That’s by design, to get what they want.  And I still feel they’re put off by the competition of a new franchise or two.  Yeah, the Mariners and Sonics have co-existed for decades before the Sonics left.  But, two things are different now.

First and foremost, when the Sonics left in 2008, I feel like the Mariners saw that as their opportunity to kind of take charge of Seattle.  This will always be a football town, but football only lasts for 17 weeks, with a month for preseason and another month for the post-season.  8 regular season home games, at more or less roughly the same price per ticket.  The Seahawks are like a sports version of Lennie Small (from Of Mice and Men).  They’re a big, dumb animal the public is completely consumed with.  The Mariners, in this analogy, would be George Milton.  The brains of the operation, though obviously not as crucial of a character in the grand scheme of things.

The only thing is:  the Mariners have completely fucked things up for themselves by being absolutely terrible since the Sonics left town.  And the fervor for NBA basketball in this town hasn’t waned in its absence.

The other obvious difference is the fact that when the Sonics were here before, they weren’t next-door neighbors.  No matter how you stand on the subject, you can at least see where the Mariners are coming from on this front.

People look at the NBA and MLB schedules and they scoff at “overlapping dates”.  But, when you throw in concerts and things in the NBA off-season (or even during the season when the team’s out of town), then there’s something there.

The only problem with the Mariners’ standpoint is this:  most of these events would happen on a Friday or Saturday night.  On a Saturday night, there’s no problem.  The port is off – in fact, most workers are off – so there shouldn’t be a problem if there’s a Radiohead show and a Mariners game on the same Saturday night.

On Friday?  Sure, there could be issues.  Friday rush hours are a living hell, believe me, I know.  ESPECIALLY in the downtown and SoDo areas.

There’s a fix to this, though, and one not many people are talking about.

Everyone always talks about how times are staggered.  How the port gets off at 5 (or is it before 5?) and games don’t start until 7.  One would think there’d be enough time to clear out all the downtown workers to the point where you can get people over to games without too much trouble.  I don’t necessarily buy that and if you don’t believe  me, pick a randon Friday at 6pm and try to go from, I dunno, Costco to the stadium.  See how long it takes you.  And, if people are concerned about traffic issues, don’t you think that most of them are going to try to leave EARLIER so they can make sure they’re at the game on time?  I know I would; I hate missing the beginning of a sporting event!

Here’s what people aren’t talking about, though.  The way the Mariners talk about traffic, it sounds like they’re convinced patterns won’t change.  Just because people drive a certain way to go somewhere (either going to a game or going home from work on a game night) NOW, with things the way they are, it doesn’t mean they’re going to continue going the same way when there’s a new arena and two events happening on the same night.  You don’t think people will recognize where a particular problem area is and avoid that problem area at all costs?  If you’re familiar with downtown and SoDo, you’ll adjust.

And here’s the most important thing:  if traffic is going to be so much shittier, won’t people just resign themselves to taking public transportation?  If it’s a difference of waiting hours on end in your car, or taking a bus or the light rail, at some point the time wasted in your car becomes too burdensome.  People from the south can easily park at the Tukwila station and take a comfortable light rail ride to the game.  People from the north have their choices of parking garages and bus lines that’ll take them into the heart of downtown.  People can park anywhere along the light rail, really, from Beacon Hill all the way back, and it won’t be that bad.  Or, just park in Westlake and take the tunnel to the International District stop.  There are LIMITLESS ways to get to the stadium district!  It just takes a little planning and a little common sense.

Anyway, give the interview a read if you have some time.  And scoff whenever Lincoln says, “If fans are upset with us now, imagine what it would be like if we were spending money on something besides payroll.”  Oh really?  Because I thought you were cutting payroll every fucking year since 2008 you disingenuous pile of horseshit!  GAH!

Just Who Are These People Against The Arena Deal?

It’s pretty easy to figure out who is FOR the Arena Deal:  Sonics fans.  Primarily, they’re Sonics fans.  You can also include general NBA fans, area SoDo business owners looking to see a bump in attendance from people going to Sonics games, construction workers who’d get work building the new arena, and hockey fans.  It’s a pretty dedicated, passionate group, and if this thing gets done, we will have no one but them to thank.

Because the people against the Arena Deal?  They are many.  They are many and varied and generally ignorant about what the Arena Deal actually is.  They just know they don’t want it, and that’s all they NEED to know.

Let’s start at the top:  people who hate sports.  And I’m not just talking about people who are indifferent to sports, I mean people who actively wish all professional sports would be eliminated.  Maybe they don’t like how the leagues are run, maybe they don’t like people pampering millionaire athletes, maybe they don’t like their billionaire owners, maybe they just don’t like all the attention being heaped upon grown men throwing a ball around.  Hell, maybe they were picked on as children by athletes at their high schools; I don’t know.  All I know is they’re mad as hell and they’re not going to take it anymore!

In this group, you’ve got the Citizens For More Important Things.  Now, they will couch their argument in stating that they just don’t want any public funding to go towards private sports enterprises, but in reality they just hate sports.  I mean, if the government wants to give money to the arts, it’s no big waste of money.  But SPORTS, oh HEAVENS no!

Now, if you’re a citizen of the area, you might have a beef with regards to public funding.  I mean, let’s face it, every team in every professional league has either held its home city hostage for more public financing, or that team has moved on to another city that WILL kowtow to their every demand.  That’s not right.  That’s ESPECIALLY not right when – after they get their publicly-financed stadia – they don’t do everything in their power to bring a winner to their city.  It’s the least they can do, but for teams like the Mariners, they’ve found a way to do even less.  You’d think, as a nice Thank You to all the citizens who paid for your multi-million dollar palace, you’d at least TRY to give Seattle a championship.

So, that’s shitty.  Seattle has seen every possible angle of this ordeal.  The Mariners threatened to move to Tampa until they got their stadium deal passed.  The Seahawks were halfway out the door down to L.A. before Paul Allen stepped in and forced the city into agreeing to build Seahawks Stadium.  And the Sonics, of course, made demands, were rebuked, and ultimately high-tailed it for OKC.  It’s shitty, because on the one hand “We Don’t Negotiate With Terrorists”, but on the other hand, Don’t Take Our Fucking Team Away, They Belong To Us!!!

If you’ve got a sour taste in your mouth from the whole Sonics experience at the end, because of diabolical owners trying to shyster their way to getting whatever they want for free, or because of David Stern and the NBA essentially giving up on Seattle without a fight (where he has done just about everything in his vast power to prevent other cities *cough* Sacramento *cough* from doing the same exact thing), then I can see your point, to an extent.  But, if you gave one iota of a shit about the Sonics before the whole Clay Bennett mess, then you HAVE to realize that you will eventually care about them again if they return.  There’s no way you can stay mad forever, so start warming that icy heart of yours with a cool island song already!

Moving away from this crowd, we’ve got probably the most vocal of the opponents:  the port.  I dunno, I guess this has nothing to do with hating sports and everything to do with … traffic?  Traffic in the area is already bad as it is, what with the shitty roads and the constant construction going on.  Tack on a new arena and 41 home dates a year, and I guess that makes it even worse somehow?  Or, you know, just as bad as any Mariners game, only across more days of the year.  Winter and spring days.  Rainy, cold, dark days.

I have a hard time taking the port seriously in this matter.  The port isn’t going anywhere, those jobs aren’t moving anywhere else, and traffic won’t really be impacted AT ALL.  You get off work at a dedicated 4:30 every day!  With Sonics games starting at 7pm, most fans won’t get there until 6:30-7:00.  There will be a number showing up to SoDo early, but that number isn’t high, and they’ll most likely be clogging up Pioneer Square anyway because that’s where all the good bars are!  AND, anyone who shows up early will likely show up no earlier than 5pm, which means you’ve got a solid half hour to get the fuck out of dodge on game days.

And if the port is just against this so it can angle for better roads and overpasses and all that, then why don’t they just pull their heads out and realize:  the roads and overpasses won’t come if there’s no reason to build them.  Having an arena, and building up the business district down there, will do everything to get the city and state to improve SoDo.  Having nothing there will continue to have the government ignore it as they’ve done all along.

Of course, the ports aren’t the only group with a problem with the proposed location.  The biggest road block thus far is the Seattle Mariners.  Surprise, surprise.  Yeah, they’ve shut their stupid traps after initial outbursts by Lincoln and Armstrong when we first heard about this deal (assholes that they are; DIE ALREADY!), but make no mistake, they are playing hard and fast with the politics behind the scenes.  They’ve got councilmembers in their pockets and they’re not afraid to call in favors when it suits their interests.  You know, their ONLY interests:  making money and making more money.  Not what’s good for the city, what’s good for local sports fans, what’s good for local businesses; just what’s good for their own pockets.  It’s how they run their own organization (not spending money on players, not putting a winning product on the field, a field these fans GAVE them for free), so why should we expect them to be any different when it comes to something like this?

Speaking of politics, you can’t ignore the politicians.  Ineffectual, do-nothing politicians.  If the city council passes on the Arena Deal, then you can look no further than these dirty politicians and their dirty politics.  Because they surely have eyes on the Mayor’s office, and they’ll do anything they can to make the current mayor look foolish.  McGinn bringing the Sonics back to Seattle will almost guarantee him another term.  Failing to do so will ultimately be his final nail.  And I think there are enough politicians on the council against either the mayor or the location of this proposed arena to kill this thing.  My gut has absolutely no faith in the process of Seattle’s government; I hope it’s proven wrong.

When you add it all up, I don’t see how you can be REMOTELY confident in getting this Arena Deal passed.  There are so many factions pushing against this thing.  If we didn’t have some of the most passionate basketball fans in the entire country, this thing would already be dead.  But, I don’t think even passion is going to be enough.  When I say that I don’t think the Sonics will ever come back to Seattle, this is part of what I’ve been talking about all along.  You can’t get anything done in Seattle.  Say what you will about corrupt Chicago city politicians, but at least they get shit done!  In Seattle, shit man.  This city is a fucking joke.  Someone should just drop an atomic bomb on this city and start the fuck over.

Fuck You Howard Lincoln. Fuck You Chuck Armstrong.

In case you couldn’t tell by the headline, I wanted to let this story sink in before I ran with a snap judgment.

Bumbling Idiots

In case you’re just coming out from under a rock, Howard Lincoln wrote a letter to the city and the county coming out against building an arena in SoDo.  By all accounts, Chuck Armstrong got on the radio today saying something to the effect of, “They will rue the day they built an arena in SoDo.

Let me tell you why these guys are assholes.

Have you ever heard of the phrase, “You don’t have a leg to stand on”?  Because, I’m not gonna lie to you, these two are some paraplegic bitches we’re talking about here!  Let’s just get the obvious out of the way:  you two are the figureheads of the Seattle Mariners.  An organization that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2001.  An organization that has lost 95+ games in three of the past four seasons.  An organization that has ruthlessly slashed payroll every year since 2008.  An organization that – over the same timeframe – has seen its attendance exponentially decline.  This is an organization that has simultaneously seen its overall value increase … yet chooses to counter dwindling ticket sales by tightening the purse strings and providing us with a substandard product, all the while shovelling us some bullshit about “hope” and “youth movement” and “building a team the right way”.

The Mariners are LOSERS.  They’re losers nobody gives two shits about in this city.  They’re about to witness attendance numbers we haven’t seen around these parts since the late 80s/early 90s (in the pre “You Gotta Love These Guys” era).  So, Howard & Chuck, you’re not exactly in the best position to be telling us what we should and shouldn’t do with land that isn’t yours.

And let’s call a spade a fucking spade while we’re at it.  The Mariners aren’t against this arena deal because of transportation issues.  Hell, 10,000 fans on a random mid-season Tuesday will cause backups that take FOREVER to dissipate.  So, stop pretending that some Sonics game taking place at the same time is going to be that much worse.  It’s already TERRIBLE!

The Mariners don’t want this arena to be built because they don’t want to compete with another franchise (or franchises) for those ever-precious Benjamins.  The Mariners never would’ve said anything about the Seahawks’ stadium being built because they had to share a home with them for so many years (and because, let’s face it, if Seattle is anything, it’s a football town, so lamenting a stadium being built right across the street would be pissing into the wind).  The Mariners never said anything about the Sounders either because they were essentially brought in here by the Seahawks to get the stadium built in the first place.

But, when you’re talking about an NBA (or an NHL) team, the Mariners think they can puff out their chest and swing their dick around like they own this city or something.  The Mariners don’t own SHIT!  I was a Sonics fan WAY before I was a Mariners fan (as were most Seattle sports fans, since the Sonics came first and everything) and I was always a bigger basketball fan than I was a baseball fan.  The Mariners were something I grew to appreciate, when they finally put out a winning product.  I stuck with them because they were something to watch and root for during the summer months when there weren’t any real sports going on.  But, by the time football and basketball seasons started coming around, the Mariners were easily discarded and forgotten (except for those four times they made the playoffs).

The Sonics, however, I lived and died with, from beginning to end.  If I had my druthers, the Sonics never would’ve left, and if we had to get rid of a major Seattle sports franchise, we’d be talking about the Oklahoma City Mariners.  THAT’S how much of a fuck I give about the Mariners when compared to my beloved Sonics.

But, okay, let’s say this transportation thing isn’t a totally unreasonable gripe.  There will be any number of Sonics games that may conflict with some early-season Mariners games.  There will be various concerts and other attractions throughout the summer months that might prove to be a hassle.  Indeed, it MIGHT take upwards of two hours for things to clear out.  You know what that means?  People will have to adjust.  People will have to park far away and start taking public transportation to their homes or their cars, if they’re parked in some outlying Park & Rides.  The city might have to create more construction jobs so we can get the roads fixed, get some over-passes built, and increase the size of our freeway onramps.  More cops will have to make extra money working overtime dealing with traffic snarls.

My goodness!  It sounds like building a new arena in SoDo might actually IMPROVE our sluggish economy!  What were the fucking odds?

How absolutely MORONIC do you have to be, Howard & Chuck?  Are you REALLY this stupid, or has senility finally ravaged your already pea-sized brains?  Mariners fans ’round these parts have hated you two for the better part of a decade.  They’ve blamed you for all those talented Mariners teams that fell short in the playoffs because you wouldn’t allow Pat Gillick to do what he wanted to do.  They’ve blamed you for choosing nostalgia over putting out a winning product.  They’ve blamed you – right or wrong – for what Bill Bavasi was allowed to do with what appears to be our only attempt at throwing money around like the Big Boys.  And when Bavasi was fired, they wanted nothing more than to throw you out with the dirty ol’ bathwater, if for no other reason than to get some fresh blood circulating throughout this organization.  When the Mariners re-sign an 80 year old Ken Griffey Jr., when they’re not allowed to make impact trades at the deadline, when the general manager can’t go after any top-flight free agents after losing 95 games, the fans in Seattle know EXACTLY who to blame.  Howard Lincoln and Chuck Armstrong.  Whether fair or unfair, you two knob-jockeys are always going to take the heat for this team’s incompetence.

And if the arena deal in SoDo gets killed, believe-you-me, the fans in Seattle will still know who to blame.

If this thing is all a sinister red herring to cover up the smell of a team sale, as Geoff Baker believes, then why don’t you assholes do us all a favor and get on with it already?  This ownership group has proven time and time again that they’re completely inept when it comes to running a winning organization.  Oh, they’re quite good at turning a profit, and sanitizing the live game experience to the point where you can’t make any noise lest you annoy tattletale patrons around you who will force you out.  But, if you’re looking for a World Class organization, you better look elsewhere.  Because with Howard and Chuck on the case, the Mariners will always be bottom-feeders.