BY Art Thiel 06:00AM 05/13/2019

Thiel: Hey, M’s fans — how do you feel about this?

You’ve seen the Mariners go 13-2, then 7-21, including Sunday’s ghastly episode in Boston. Now it’s your turn: Explain here your level of tolerance for deliberately bad ball.

Grim as was Sunday’s game, GM Jerry Dipoto’s plan is, well, going to plan. Can you stand it? / Alan Chitlik, Sportspress Northwest

The temptation is to say that the Mariners’ 11-2 loss Sunday (box) in Boston that featured five fielding blunders in the first three innings and eight walks in eight innings, concluding a three-game Red Sox sweep by a 34-8 cumulative margin, and a 2-8 road trip with the 15th defeat in 19 games, was a milestone in ineptitude.

For those of us who have watched the Mariners since 1977, I believe I can speak for all in recommending resistance to that temptation.

Worth remembering is that Mariners were the slowest team in modern pro sports history to reach .500 (15 years), has the longest current absence from the playoffs among the four biggest pro sports leagues (17 years), and has been to the postseason four times in their 43 years of the club’s persistently dubious existence.

A franchise of such sustained, historic failure does not flinch when confronted by a mere month-long spasm of futility.

The Mariners know bottom like a 300-pound halibut. They have produced more wrecks than Steve McQueen in Bullitt. They have been outwitted more consistently than Elmer against Bugs.

Hell, the raggedy-ass Oakland A’s, a franchise run out of the cargo bed of Billy Beane’s 1966 Chevy El Camino, have been to the playoffs seven times since the Mariners’ last appearance.

While it is true that this 2019 team has displayed an inability to close a baseball glove around a baseball that is rarely seen above T-ball, that is merely a rare perversion, and not a major argument to put this period of futility among the greats. Although keeping Jay Bruce in right field for awhile is a bold step in that direction.

The point here is that as much as Sunday’s game inspired among Seattle witnesses the urge to pass around a cocktail fork with which to pluck out eyeballs, we’ve seen this before.

We’ve seen two Mariners tagged out at home plate on the same play by a catcher with a broken leg. We’ve seen a manager identify as his starting right fielder a player who had been traded a day earlier. We’ve seen the San Diego Padres attempted to be purchased by a Seattle owner while still in possession of the Mariners.

The question before the house at this juncture is this: Given the declared posture of management to dedicate the season to stepping back, how do you feel about what you’re seeing so far — a team that leads MLB in runs, home runs, strikeouts, errors and has the game’s worst set of relievers?

I’m serious about describing your level of tolerance, and hope you provide below.

Because we’ve seen similar blunders by the megaton historically does not mean this season is merely same-old, same-old. In fact, it is unique in club annals.

Many have been the seasons of little or no hope. But this one was deliberately, publicly set ablaze with the off-season trades of Robinson Cano, Edwin Diaz, James Paxton, Jean Segura and other veterans for a passel of prospects, with the explanation that the young talent acquired would blossom into group contention perhaps by 2020 but more reasonably 2021.

General manager Jerry Dipoto is following a methodology established by several clubs in recent years, notably the Chicago Cubs and the Houston Astros: Tank one’s way to the top. While it’s way early to evaluate the long-term plan, you’ve seen, and some have paid for, a quarter of the 2019 plan. You are entitled to pipe up about your degree of tolerance for baseball’s new team-building custom, Seattle-style.

This team has been 13-2, then 7-21. I mean, we all expected regression to the mean, but these guys blew past the mean to the cruel. (Three definitions of mean in one sentence; English, she’s a beaut.)

Nevertheless, at 20-23, this was, more or less, exactly what the club set out to do. Management is playing several placeholder vets until the trade deadline approaches, sprinkling in a few kids but keeping most of the best and brightest growing in the minors.

The results have been exhilarating and execrable.

In no case will the Mariners make a trade of top prospects to make the 2019 roster better. Instead they will do as they did Sunday: Fly relief pitcher Dan Altavilla overnight from AA Arkansas to pitch a third of an inning and give up a hit, four walks and three runs. That, friends, is expansion-level ball.

Does the potentially gruesome plan for delayed gratification move you to:

  • Attend?
  • Watch?
  • Care at all until 2021?
  • Burn your Paul Abbott jersey? (The pitcher was 17-4 in 2001.)

If you think this season is how things must have felt at Donner Pass one fateful winter, say so.

If you think that Dipoto is a baseball Columbus, unafraid of big water in pursuit of the New World, pipe up.

If you think the Mariners have already done the season’s heavy lift by convincing Ichiro to retire, that’s a point worth making.

If you’re numb . . . well, you probably haven’t read this far.

I don’t want to set limits on responses, but I’d like to make a few suggestions for our mutual edification.

  • We know no fan likes his or her team to lose. Dig a little deeper.
  • No bobblehead jokes. Too easy.
  • You can fire Dipoto and/or manager Scott Servais if you want. But include suggestions for their successors.

Because no one asked you before the season, here’s your chance to ‘splain your feelings. Or you can revert to the cocktail fork.

 


YourThoughts

  • Don Bear

    “The Mariners know bottom like a 300-pound halibut” and the use of the word “mean” three times in three different ways in one sentence? If the M’s ineptitude inspires this level of fine writing, I say don’t change a thing!

    You be you, Mariners.

    Great article.

    • art thiel

      Thanks, Don. In a perverse way, the Mariners are a renewable resource.

    • Husky73

      I’d like to gather America’s greatest writers–not just sports writers…writers!– and have a sentence by sentence round table discussion of this column. It is like Harper Lee or JD Salinger– why bother once you have reached Everest?

      • art thiel

        It’s a little early in the day for that much scotch, yes?

  • Alan Harrison

    This is still the right course. And if the team goes 62-100, that’s fine. Is it pleasurable to watch? Sure- it’s baseball, it’s fun (albeit too expensive), and the alternative is what Portland, Montreal, and Indianapolis get; wishing for any team to choose to come there. And this year’s team alternative was to finish 3rd or 4th with aging players, a bloated payroll, and no farm system. Once Felix, Kyle, Jay (and all those other guys at first base) are gone, at least we’ll have a chance to get better. Young and improving is always better than old and stagnating.

    • art thiel

      Well, yes, bad baseball beats no baseball. Isn’t that a fairly low bar for the ticket price?

      The logic in Dipoto’s plan is clear. Whether he executes on it properly can’t be known until at least 2021. But it seems you trust him enough to be undisturbed by a potentially brutal 2019 outcome.

      • Alan Harrison

        I don’t know if that’s a fairly low bar. Let’s ask Sonic fans.

  • jafabian

    It’s very obvious that Dipoto is following the Astros methodology in setting the course of the franchise. Anyone who thought that after the housecleaning he put the club through that the team would maintain their 13-2 pace would be fooling themselves. More importantly anyone who thinks that their recent tailspin means his moves have failed again are fooling themselves. Jerry could see that this organization was going to continuously fall short of the playoffs and its core players were aging and had very little in the farm system to replace them. Much like what Bob Melvin inherited and we know what’s happened since then. This is a very young team that’s learning the game with a few veterans from whom they can draw some lessons from. Dee Gordon has had moments where he’s shown leadership in that regard according to Shannon Drayer of the M’s broadcast team. Everything is a learning experience for these players right now. It’s a matter of trusting the process.

    Props to the club for sending OF Braden Bishop down to the Rainiers a day early and then paying the way for him to spend Mother’s Day with his mom in California. His mom has lived with Alzheimer’s the past five years so that was a special time for both of them and a classy move by the club. Things like that make me continue to believe in this organization.

    • art thiel

      That’s a vote for staying the course. You are trusting Dipoto’s plan to be more right than wrong, and the ineptitude of 2019 is a fan price you’re willing to pay.

      • jafabian

        The club could go for a quick fix and sign RP Craig Kimbrel but they’d have to break the bank for him. And a closer doesn’t help when you’re losing by a large margin. Justin Smoak, Jose Abreu and Madison Bumgarner could all be available but the M’s would have to give up their recently acquired prospects for them. If the M’s players learn as they go and show to fans that they always compete this season will be one that’s going in the right direction.

        • art thiel

          I expect that the young guys will try hard; the question is whether you care that management is putting them in a place to win today’s game as opposed to 2021. Right now, it’s an either-or situation.

          • jafabian

            I was premature to say Cruz was the last drafted prospect I was psyched for. Dustin Ackley was. And I always root root root for the home team. Even in a big loss there’s something to take from every moment of the game. Even more so with this team as they continue to learn. I also enjoy watching Servais work. I’ve noticed that he, Pete Carroll, Brian Schmetzer, Dan Hughes, Chris Petersen and Mike Hopkins all seem to be similar in their coaching styles. Accentuate the positive. Only Servais hasn’t tasted the postseason but I’m confident he will.

          • art thiel

            I think most coaches do now, but coaching bulliies have won a lot of titles too. Neither way is right or wrong; just don’t be phony.

    • Husky73

      The problem with the “Astros methodology” is that there is no Altuve, Springer or Correa in the Mariners system; and they won’t be signing a Verlander.

      • art thiel

        Well, we really don’t know that yet. The prized prospects have been seen for only a short while.

        But the Astros had three consecutive seasons of 106, 107 and 111 losses. Not saying that’s happening here, but that’s what it took for the Astros to get where they are.

  • Steve Buckholdt

    You have to give Dipoto credit for being something of a genius. He created low expectations for this season with his plan of “reimage/reimagine/step back” whatever, So he set us up to expect the team to stink this year and, low and behold, he was right. The problem I have is why pay high ticket prices and outrageous concession prices to watch this team. It’s amazing to me that anyone goes to the games. Maybe people go to

    hook-up or their employer bought season tickets. For me anyway, the Mariners for 2019 are just irrelevant.

    • art thiel

      People go to modern stadiums for different reasons, as you and Alan Harrison mentioned. I’ll give you another one — public safety. Stadium personnel are trained to know the regulars and their families, who often feel free to turn their kids loose in the “mallpark.” How many big public spaces can you say that about?

  • Kevin Lynch

    If ineptitude produces articles this amusing, I say extend the contracts of Dipoto and…who is the manager? The early elixir of Dr. Jekyl’s 13-2 was extravagant. Now we’re left with the HorseHyde. Excuse the rain wreck of a pun but please don’t excuse this train wreck of a season. Call up Robespierre from AAA. Prepare the guillotine.

  • StephenBody

    I foolishly claimed before the season that I was giving up the Mariners. I was annoyed at this thing of “being good in 2021-22”, because every GM before them “had a plan” and NONE of ’em panned out – except for the ONLY guy who did ask us to “trust the plan”, Pat Gillick. But I caved because I love baseball too much to ignore my hometown team. My attitude is the same as it was before the last Seahawks season: they were rebuilding and I based my expectations on that. I thought they might go 4-12 and that anything better would be a gift. Well, I got a HELL of a gift. With these M’s, we all KNEW that 13-2 was an illusion, a total fluke. I have NO expectations for this group. They may lose 100 games but I will still go to games because IT”S BASEBALL, although, living in Tacoma, I’ll probably attend far more Rainiers games.

    In dealing with professional sports, we as fans have only THREE things we absolutely control: 1. Whether or not we attend games and buy tickets. 2. Whether we follow them on radio and TV. And 3, whether we spend money for team apparel and merchandise. That’s IT…except for our expectations. If you make ONE brutally honest, possibly even unkind, decision about what you expect, you won’t have to have all the frustration and stomach acid. I expect nothing but a team on the field and, because I love the sport more than any one team, I’m fine with that.

    • art thiel

      You’re right about the three economic matters under a fan’s control. And I get that you value a game at the yard above the laundry upon the players. But since you’re a regular commenter, I know you care about a good local-team outcome. You have the courage to admit you were foolish pre-season to claim you gave up on the Mariners.

      So: Is it OK for you to be made a fool as long as you get your fix of ball? I ask sincerely, not cynically.

  • Tian Biao

    you want it Art? really?? okay, here it is: I am effing tired of the Ms being an effing doormat. I’m really fed up. I’ve followed the M’s since 1982, attended hundreds of games, and consistently defended this team. I’ve never been a front runner, waiting for them to win. I’ve put up with Howard Lincoln, Gorman Thomas, the woefully incompetent Bavasi and his feckless clone Zdurenciek and their terrible trades and piss poor eyes for talent, Jose Lopez and his partner in crime Betancourt, Jeff Smulyan, the Kingdome, beers that go up a dollar each year while shrinking in size, and everything else. But this display in Boston was damn near the end. the M’s are a doormat, a laughingstock, and I hate that. We take a 4 run lead, hell it doesn’t matter. Felix will give it all back. The Bosox will drop 10 runs on our bullpen. the yankees will win in their last at bat. whatever it takes, they’ll do it. and it won’t even be very hard.

    here is my ultimatum: if this rebuild doesn’t work, I’m out. forget it. gone. no more reimaginings of the roster. no more pauses on the winning continuum. no more charts of serendipity. no more horse crap. these clowns have until 2020. that’s it. i’ll be happier and so will everyone around me. losers.

    ps your take still made me laugh. so that’s something. but i’ve really had enough. Also, i was actually at that game where the broken-legged Buck Martinez tagged out two Mariners, one of whom was the aforementioned Gorman Thomas, who didn’t even bother to slide.

    • art thiel

      Your witness to the Buck Martinez episode means your fan scars are honorable.

      Your decision to wait until 2020 before abandonment means you’re still engaged in the 2019 step-back. That makes me ask why. Your litany of customer abuse seems to convey contempt, but there you were on Mother’s Day, watching.

      I remain curious how fans are processing this season, so I’d like you to reflect a little more and respond.

      • Tian Biao

        Art, you are right, that was a rant. I apologize. and i didn’t really mean it. I will almost certainly keep coming back even after 2020. merely a temporary skid mark from the awful road trip plus a bit of a hangover. so that’s your answer: I’m processing it by getting mad, calming down, and then tuning in again. the best analogy I can think of is this: following the M’s is like having a teenage problem child. you love the kid, and you want him or her to succeed and prosper in some remarkable way, but she’s partying, and getting bad grades, and hanging out with the wrong crowd, and realistically, you have to downshift your expectations. but you’ll always love the kid, and always support her, and there will always some cause for optimism, alongside the disappointment. you will never completely give up on them. that’s really how I feel about the M’s.

        • art thiel

          No apology necessary for being upset with persistent futility. I do like your analogy of the problem child, in that you shouldn’t abandon caring for the little one because of failure. The big difference, of course, is that there are laws against child abandonment.

        • Husky73

          Tian…On the night that the Kingdome was dedicated in 1976, Danny Kaye stood at the podium and said for fans to get their World Series tickets early. OK, anyone can have a bad half-century. Red Sox fans said the same things as you over generations….and then came four WS championships. So did White Sox fans, Cubs fans and Giants fans. It has been 31 years for the Dodgers….the Dodgers!!!!!! 1982? Tsk tsk. This Pilots fan asks that you hang in there, and when Danny Kaye’s prophesy finally comes true, I’ll meet you for a handshake in the right field bleachers before WS Game One.

          • Tian Biao

            a bad half century! that’s about it. as for meeting in right field before game 1 of the eventual world series, you got a deal!

      • 2nd place is 1st loser

        Same as it ever was, same as it ever was. Talking heads, so is the franchise every year. As you stated earlier and I constantly beat the same drum. Leadership and direction come from the top, since Pat & Lou left it’s never been the same. I truly have zero faith that they are committed or more importantly, “capable” of putting a perennial competitive team on the field.

        It’s a head scratcher that they allowed or were talked into allowing Dipoto to hire Servais. A team that hasn’t seen the playoffs since Jesus walked the earth allowed Dipoto to hire a manager that has absolutely zero experience in coaching or managing a T-ball team much less a playoff starved franchise.

  • Effzee

    The three uses of mean in a sentence was *mind blowing* … English achievement unlocked, sir!

    One could argue that each of the previous 15-ish seasons were purposefully tanked as well, except that they were actually trying. LOL! As a fellow M’s fan since ’77, the tanking doesn’t bother me because since absolutely nothing else has worked, may as well give it a shot. All any of us really want is to watch good baseball played with the potential of making the playoffs. Insanity is trying the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Maybe tanking is the only sane way forward for this franchise.

    • art thiel

      I marvel how so many non-native speakers learn English.

      The Mariners are hoping fans like you are in the large majority, but I wonder whether delaying gratification is still possible for many in our culture.

      • Effzee

        I think in today’s day and age, while the people will still come out in droves to watch a winning product, nobody has the time or bandwidth to come out to endure the bad times like we did in the 80’s. Its an impatient “give me a reason to give you my money” culture nowadays.

  • Tian Biao

    here’s a serious suggestion: why doesn’t ownership cut ticket and concession prices in half? their product is woefully substandard, and admittedly so, but still have the gall to charge full price? why is that? would anyone pay full price for a crappy car? I mean come on, they have to give something back. right?

    • art thiel

      In the sports-corporation world, it’s a sin to devalue the product based on losses in a given week, month or season. Where does a team draw the line of how much is too much? After you do it once, when do you do it again? Do you get fans in the habit if cheering for losses to get cheaper tickets?

      Movie theaters and Broadway don’t cut prices for movies/plays that turn out poorly. You and other fans are the marketplace; you have the final say as to whether your discretionary dollars are worthy of the full-price event.

      • Tian Biao

        true, they will probably never do it. but why not reduce ticket prices at least? They’d sell more concessions, create a better atmosphere. they wouldn’t have to link it to losing. but if they wanted to get really bold, they could go completely outside the box. Create a formula: for each game they finish under .500 at the end of the season, ticket prices go down in 2020 by 1%. this is Seattle, right? it would be fun. different. imagine the publicity.

        • art thiel

          Imagine the precedent in the sports industry. Fellow owners would pursue John Stanton with pitchforks and torches.

          Monopoly operators NEVER cut prices. At best, they might give your an extra ounce of beer for your $10.

          Regarding ticket prices, would you really decide to go to a game mainly because your $40 ticket was now $38 or $35?

          • Tian Biao

            the joy would derive from knowing that ownership is sharing the pain of losing: that they are suffering too. as for never cutting prices: do they not charge more when marquee teams come to town? isn’t that another way of saying they charge less when subpar teams come to town? so by logical extension, couldn’t they charge even less when two subpar teams are playing? I’m half-joking, of course: I agree that it would be hard to do.

            more seriously: lower ticket prices would result in increased concession and souvenir sales and a better atmosphere. fellow owners would understand that argument. a lot of teams in MLB are tanking: they should be looking for bold solutions. it’s not enough to simply preach patience. in our case, it’s a bit insulting, given that a lot of us have been patient for decades.

          • art thiel

            Yes, it’s called demand pricing, and many teams around sports have adopted the plan. The Mariners charge a higher price for popular games, and a lesser price for Tuesday school nights against the A’s.

            Does that make a difference to you?

      • Feldie

        Fair point Art, but that does not explain why the M’s continue to try to fleece the local fan base. Case in point is the BallPark Pass. The M’s charge $99 per month compared to (in decreasing order):

        – Nats $65
        – Tigers $55
        – Yanks $50
        – Twinkies $49
        – BrewCrew $35
        – Cards $30
        – Giants $30

        There may be more, but I did not find them during a cursory internet search. There is a great article in Lookout Landing that fully analyzes how much the M’s are over charging their fans:

        https://www.lookoutlanding.com/2019/2/26/18241668/mariners-bring-back-the-ballpark-pass-but-miss-the-mark

        The organization continues to find ways to alienate their best fans. I am fed up. Leave T-Bag Field to Corp Events, Little League Day, and Fri Singles Night with DJ (the game doesn’t matter, we’re just here for the best bar in Seattle).

        More above. #WhereIRoot. What joke.

      • Alan Harrison

        On that last paragraph – that’s my ballpark, if you will (25 years’ worth in live performance industry). Spot on. When you cut prices (or worse, give away the product free of charge), you not only de-value the “experience” (which, when successful, includes the expertise of the players but is not dependent upon it), you de-value the future of the experience (“Why would I buy tickets at a price higher than this?”). A major-league baseball game in Seattle ought to cost X, given a formula that includes size of population, relative cost of living, and the ample amount of disposable income in the area. Case in point: the A’s always seem to win and never draw a crowd larger than “avid baseball/A’s fans.” The nearby Giants sell out just about every game since the park was built, drawing crowds that include “avid baseball/Giants fans,” but also includes “fans of being at the park,” a much larger subset that does not exist in Oakland. Fried grasshoppers for thought.

        • Husky73

          A lot of casual fans come to T-Mobile Park for the experience of the stadium and the atmosphere….including a bunch of millennials who pack the center field landing without a clue as to the opponent, score or who is pitching for the Mariners.

    • Steve Buckholdt

      I agree with you 100%. They are charging major league prices for a minor league team.

      • DB

        You do get to watch the other team as well. The hot tickets are always the ones that involve a top opponent. Many people buy a ticket as much to see the opposing team, or top player, as they do to see the Mariners play.

        • Steve Buckholdt

          Good point. Going back a few decades and switching to basketball, it’s like paying to watch the Harlem Globetrotters play the Washington Generals. Nobody cared about the Generals (Mariners). It was the Globetrotters (NYY/Bosox/Blue Jays/Cubs, etc.) that people wanted to see.

        • art thiel

          That’s the case everywhere. I’m trying to understand what fans think about the ask by the Mariners, given the history.

          • DB

            What’s really changed? They will still be a losing team, but this year they are admitting up front that they will suck, instead of promoting the idea that they will be contenders. At least they have a strategy. -Even if ‘losing to win’ seems like it borders on the desperation of having tried about everything else. We’ll just have to sit back and see how it plays out. Like the last time. My attention level isn’t the same as it would be if they were contending, but it’s still baseball. There are many parts of the game to enjoy and follow, even if the team isn’t playoff bound.

  • Matt Kite

    I gave up on the M’s years ago. Haven’t been to a game. Haven’t watched any on TV. But I still check the standings on occasion just to make sure up is up, down is down, and Seattle is Seattle. Take away the Lou Piniella years, and you’ve got nothing. I hung in there when they were a young franchise and forever up-and-coming, but a fellow has to set boundaries somewhere…

    • art thiel

      So, what do you imagine it would take to get you to buy two tickets to a game?

      • Matt Kite

        First, they need to win. A deep run in the post-season would be convincing, but even a valiantly lost wildcard series would be better than anything we’ve experienced in nearly two decades. The second thing: stability. I have a hard time connecting to a roster that’s always in turmoil. If they can put together a team that wins and stays together for a few years, I’ll buy those tickets. Admittedly, I think the team from the ’90s spoiled us. The Big Unit, Junior, Edgar — that was an electrifying team. It may be that my standards are too high. But once you’ve seen a team that exciting, it’s hard to get jazzed about anything else…

  • Paul Sherman

    I gave up following baseball for the Sounders in 2009. I follow the M’s through your writing now, as I don’t care about any of the players anymore and I get such a kick out your writing. In contrast, I loved almost all the players in 1995 when Jay Buehner told us in August they would win the division. I figure we had our good team and then as they proceeded to sell every bit of talent off of that team they lost me. I can’t tell you much about the last few years other than you couldn’t give me a ticket. I’m from Chicago and was offered 3 tix to the Cubs game for free and said no thanks. I remember how affordable it once was and fun for a kid to go to a game. Now it’s a $300 day out for a family. NUTS! If I allowed myself to, I’d hate what they’ve done to our team.

    • art thiel

      You’re right about the 95 team on a point often overlooked — baseball then wasn’t churning rosters as they are now. The group from 1991-99 had numerous key figures that allowed fans to attach, plus the charisma of Piniella.

      And the game’s increasing expense will always freeze out a part of the audience, especially those used to 57,000 seats in the Kingdome.

  • Will Ganschow

    I grew up on the 50s and 60s Chicago Cubs.The Wrigley family employed John Holland as GM who next to Jack Z would look like D Trump next to B Obama.

    I’ve been to three games this year (coming from Portland) already a game above my season average and am thinking about coming up next weekend.

    Even with the sometimes pathetic level of play the Ms have a lineup the can annihilate the opposing pitchers. The young guys are exciting, JP Crawford already hitting really well. When the team is really ready to contend that will be time enough to build the bullpen. It still feels like the club is going in some direction anyway as opposed to the last fifteen or so years of absentee ownership and “civic minded” meddling from the top management.
    Dipoto has only had a short time working with new owner Stanton.

    Let’s give this a chance and enjoy the ride as the club develops. (BTW, if (when) Portland gets a club all bets are off.) Go Blazers!

    • art thiel

      A rare vote for patience. Good for you.

      Your Blazers sucked tonight. But Game 7 fatigue was obvious.

      • Will Ganschow

        Agree they sucked. Agree with the reason. Also think Warriors a very different team from Thunder. Stotts very good at making adjustments. He deserves more of the credit for getting them this far. They only need to win one in Frisco if they win at home.

  • johnstark2

    I’m old enough to remember the fun of 1995 and 2001, and I would love to have that kind of fun again. But as others have noted, baseball is always fun if you love baseball. The soap opera of a 162-game season will always have its twists and turns, even if they match 1980s levels of futility. It’s hard to understand why managers, general managers and owners can come and go, but the pall of futility so often remains in a city full of super-successful people.

    • Husky73

      John– I am old enough to remember our last baseball championship…the 1966 Seattle Angels managed by Bob Lemon. They used 62 players that season (including 20 pitchers). Amongst that crowd were my favorites, Jim Coates and Julio Gotay.

      • art thiel

        It may have been off-topic, but your response was a remarkable reminiscence. It’s as if you memorized P-I stories.

        • Husky73

          My late brother was a Fair worker. He got Sal Durante’s autograph. Sal is on Facebook.

    • art thiel

      Your final sentence was a potent reflection.

  • Andy Traisman

    “We’ve seen two Mariners tagged out at home plate on the same play by a catcher with a broken leg.” I was at that game! You were too AT. Oh my, who would’ve thought all these years later this type of bad could be compared to that type of bad. So suggestions you ask? Here’s one: When were the Mariners good? A small dot in time when Lou Pinella was managing them. He had that something that no one before him or since had. He “refused to lose” and that moniker became contagious. Who’s “Lou like” out there? One guy that I can see who is likely to be available next season. Joe Maddon. Joe’s won wherever he’s been and always with teams that had less talent and young talent. Joe is currently in his free agent year, the Cubs are unlikely to pay him what would keep him. Why would a Florida guy come to Seattle? Well, it happened once before didn’t it? Who thought Lou Pinella would ever come to Seattle? Pay Joe the money, give him title, which means send Jerry packing with Scott. Just the way it has to be, neither current GM or manager will be here for the resurrection.

    • Will Shortt

      Well – I share your pain, but the Cubs had a ton of pain for a century until Madden led them to the promised land. I really don’t think they’ll let him go for $$ that doesn’t count against the luxury tax. And that said, I don’t think Servais is half bad. The team is definitely half bad, but that’s the plan. DiPoto’s trade to dump Cano and pick up Kelenic and Dunn was bold and masterful. Getting Domingo for Gamel was mind-boggling. Crawford is looking good out there. For the first time in a long time there feels like we have long term hope. I say let it ride and get as good a draft pick as possible. And then use the Felix money for a top FA pitcher this offseason. Here’s to 2020 and just enjoying the baseball for the game it is til then!

    • art thiel

      Lots of ground covered, Andy. You’re well ahead of Chone Figgins.

      A guy of Maddon’s brains and personality would help any team. However, I think managers have less influence in outcomes of games and seasons than their counterparts in other sports. Piniella already had Griffey, Johnson, Martinez and Buhner in place when he took over.

      Let’s not forget that in 2002, the Mariners led MLB with 3.5M fans. Sure, that was after the 01 season of 116 wins, but I think the market will respond big to success, presuming decay from the current rot is not permanent.

      That’s part of my curiosity: Do so many futile seasons cause permanent damage in the marketplace?

      • Andy Traisman

        So many futile seasons before and after the historic aberration of 95-02′ AT. The success was well-timed and timing’s everything. As every M’s fan knows, if they don’t win in ’95 we’re not having this conversation because the team would be two decades long gone. This is a tricky market–I don’t think winning solves it. Even long term winning. I could be wrong but it’s never looked that way to me. This team has to pull a marketing genie out of its hat which includes on-field and off-field. The “deconstructers” are never around for the success, unless they were hired to deconstruct before rebuilding and carry the cache of Theo, Dombrowski and Cashman. Jerry had a shot before he tore it down and it didn’t happen. Granted it was a small window and yes, he inherited a challenging payroll and roster. So it goes. Maddon (or someone Maddon like) brings a much needed personality and the franchise is challenged this way. From top to bottom it fails to inspire. Actually as I write this AT, I’m not hopeful. Perhaps the deconstruction hasn’t gone far enough. Whoever replaces Jerry will determine the future. “Do so many futile seasons cause permanent damage in the marketplace?” I’m afraid my answer is yes.

  • John C. Rice

    I love baseball, and if your looking for championship baseball in our region this year, might I suggest the Huskies women softball team! They are back in the playoffs again, and start this coming Friday !! Support the girls, and GO DAWGS!!

    • art thiel

      A worthy suggestion for those whose Mariners patience has run out.

  • Former season ticket holder. Quit five years into the current failure streak. Why? Same mismanagement, same false promises. This team is the Tampa Bay Rays of the Northwest. Just because you tell me we’re going to lose doesn’t mean you are doing a better job. The only thing missing is the whining about an outdated facility. And I’m sure that’s on the schedule.

    All that said, it’s baseball. I follow the team, wear the jersey and hat. But nsteadi of attending sixty games a year, down to two or three.

    Since I’m here, Mr Thiel, you are the Jim Murray of the Northwest. Great read.

    • art thiel

      Your expression was solid until the last line, but i’m quick to forgive. Thanks.

    • jafabian

      Evidently you haven’t been following the Rays of the past ten years.

      • 2nd place is 1st loser

        How many W.S. appearances do the M’s have? Tick tick tick tock. ZERO…….

  • coug73

    I lost my mood ring and any feelings I had for the Mariners. No big deal or loss. Well, I would like my mood ring back. “The ball park that tax payers didn’t what” is an excellent venue and reasonably safe place for T-ball team outings with proper parent supervision. Watching a few innings of a home stand on TV I was rooting for a home run ball to ricochet amongst those attendees who stand, drink beer, and talk among themselves with their backs to the game. Do the M’s give out cell phone promotions to fans? Sure saw many in the hands of kids and adults. Rooting for the Mariners is a personal matter and best discussed infrequently when in polite company.

  • Husky73

    “Time starts now.” (Steve McQueen, Bullitt)

  • 1coolguy

    All I know is you are buying Art – No way you win our labor day bet. They really are miserable. When the owners did not open the checkbook to neither Gillick or Beane, that’s when I knew they were not in it to win, and we have lived through the results every year since the 116 win year.

  • Guy K. Browne

    To be honest, this is exactly what I expected out of this season, burn down the barn and start from scratch. Problem is, barns aren’t built in a day, they need to borrow time/goodwill from the fans. The Mariner’s goodwill debt is in worse shape than the national debt, who’s going to extend goodwill credits their way? They’ve been running deficits since Lou quit. Ordinarily one would expect that a new ownership group would get some amount of time to prove that they have the right formula, that’s a tough ask from fans who have been paying the full price for the so-called privilege of attending Mariners games, which by the way, ranks in the top 10 most expensive ballparks in MLB. And here’s the rub, this barn burning exercise guarantees nothing except terrible baseball for the next 3-5 years…. yay!

    • Steve Buckholdt

      This is why I spend my baseball dollars at Tacoma Rainiers games. At least they are not trying to con anyone that they are anything but a AAA team. Also, you will see a lot of the same players as they transition in or out of the Mariners.

  • Scott McBride

    Wow, three meanings of mean in one mean-ass sentence. That’s no mean feat!

  • Feldie

    My biggest issue is that the M’s can’t even tank correctly:

    Example 1:
    Reduce the return on the most valuable asset traded this off-season by tacking on overpaid vet past his prime to dump salary (i.e. trade of Sugar and Cano). By adding Cano to the trade the M’s reduced the talent received in the trade.

    I don’t – nor do the fans – care about a sunk cost salary. Management should eat that salary during the “lost years”. And they most definitely should not try to dump it by reducing talent that could be here.

    Example 2:
    Don’t trade the 2nd most valuable asset during the purge (i.e. Mitch Haniger)

    I know some people fall for the “but he is core player” argument. He is 28 today and as the team moves into potential competition in few years, he’s into his 30’s. Sorry. This is not someone you hold onto during a rebuild, by age alone.

    He’s coming off a All-Star year, something he had not come near before in his career. This is his peak value time and best time trade if you are not trying to win now. M’s could’ve gotten several players in return, one of which I am sure would’ve blossomed into a nice/good player (which is what Mitch is, a nice/good player, not a great player.

    Even the optics of keeping Mitch looks awkward. The M’s are accused of being racist against Dominicans, which they admittedly deny. But in the off-season they offload all their players from the DR, including one that will still be in his prime when they compete in 2 yrs (Edwin Diaz, 25 yrs old) but keep the non-Dominican player that has value even though he is older?

    I can go on.

    I don’t know, Art. I love baseball. And I love my home teams. I root for my team, but I can’t support this org until they show me some sense (read my post below about Ballpark Pass). I will be at games this season, but I am buying my tix off the street (and I know how to reduce my spend at the ballpark).

    I expect nothing this year. And I expect very little in 2021 or 2022 or . . . whatever year they are going to try to sell us in the future.

    Step back? From what? This organization has only lost and always loss. Step back from losing by losing more? #WhereIRoot. What a joke.

  • Archangelo Spumoni

    Unfortunately, the city’s baseball “culture” was established long ago with Danny Kaye (I was at the first game), then George Argyros, then Jeff Smulyan, then Nintendo. We were fed scraps all along and got used to it.
    Lousy ownership gives you the Cleveland Browns and our Mariners. Good ownership gives you the Pittsburgh Steelers (stable franchise–3 head coaches in about 50 years), the Seahawks under Mr. Allen, et al. It isn’t all about the cash–good ownership has the ability to find good managers.
    It will take some work to redevelop the entire thing and unfortunately for the current crew, we were spoiled by the hot start.

    • art thiel

      It always starts at the top. Stanton is the best M’s owner by far. He’s chosen to ride with Dipoto into high-risk, high-reward country. I don’t think he had much choice.

      • 2nd place is 1st loser

        Yes and no on Stanton, he may be the best so far but he kept the same crew as the executive committee. Uncle Howie is gone, he probably still roams the corridors of T-Mobile park in his grim reaper attire. Stanton could have brought in a baseball person to be on the committee, but he didn’t. He even swept the Mather thing under the rug. A huge mistake IMO. Until they put a decent consistent product on the field, I’ll take the Missouri state slogan. Show Me…. Always look forward to your articles Art.

        • art thiel

          The board makeup is by percentage of ownership, not baseball acumen. Mather is in charge of business ops, involved in only the biggest money aspects of ball. Stanton has been seriously invested in baseball, not just financially. He has the brains and the power to keep the Mariners’ endless churn going of firing everyone every few years, or sticking with a plan.

  • RaisingmykidsRIGHT

    I’ve given up on baseball. I now watch cricket. Indian Professional League just ended, World Cup starts end of this month.

    • art thiel

      There’s a response I didn’t see coming. Would it help baseball to have two-day test matches?

      • RaisingmykidsRIGHT

        I’d like to see only the catchers with a glove :)

        The T20 format is pretty exciting to watch. The IPL final came down to the last ball. Test cricket, well, it’s definitely different, I doubt baseball would translate well to that type of play duration.

  • Bart Becker

    We need to hurry up and trade Edwin Encarnacion and Jay Bruce so that Daniel Vogelbach can play some first base because . . . Vogey, Dae Ho Lee, Justin Smoak, Casey Kotchman, Russel Branyan, Adam Lind, Bucky Jacobsen, Richie Sexson. I almost spent $4 the other day at Value Village for a Big Richie T-shirt, had his image and fake autograph on front — kicking myself now for walking away from it.

  • ol mole

    Well, Art, ive given it some thought and id have to answer your request with a question- how do you fire the owners? Ive watched this dog and pony show til i got old. I wasn’t at the game where gorman let himself get tagged out, but i was at one in the opening series which Phil Bradley won with a walkoff homer. Never did understand why they didn’t value him more. They said he was a weak .300 hitter. Also never understood why they didn’t spend the relative pittance to shore up the pen in the Griffey era, when we couldve gone to the world series more than once. Ditto for the Ichiro era and a couple of more recent seasons. I long ago concluded that ownership is everything, and if there is an Ms curse, that is it. They always choke. We couldve just as easily signed Fiers last season, but theyd already told us there wasnt any pitching available. So guess who went to the playoffs?
    Now we’re expected to wait until 2021. I’ll probably still be alive then. But i dont have the patience i used to. Who knows if theyre even serious about this plan, let alone whether the bosses would back jerry up if he did want to spend to fill in the holes. His pickups seem doubtful defensively. Does that go away? Not usually. I doubt ill go to a single game this season. Maybe they win me back. Like all Ms fans im a sucker.

  • Adam Salazar

    I said it last year and couldn’t follow through after the tantalizing start, but this year I mean it: I don’t care.

    There was a time when I checked the Seattle Times and mariners.com multiple times daily for morsels of insight; when I always felt we were one or two more players away; when maybe a Rich Aurilia was that guy, and hey, why couldn’t he bounce back to the high’s of the steroid era? Why couldn’t Jarrod Washburn or Chone Figgins or Scott Spezio, or Jeff Cirillo be the bargain-bin savior we paid them to be?

    Those days are gone. And I’m not going to live and die on the exploits of this team. I value my sanity and self-respect too much.

    Every year we roll out a new slogan for the M’s, “True to the Blue,” you know, well, I’m gonna keep it Real to the Teal and say the Mariners all-time slogan: “Mariners Baseball: Nothing Matters.”

    Wake me up when you’re serious, I’m out.

    • Steve Buckholdt

      This is a great summation of my feelings too.

  • Jim Burford

    First the trotting out of my ‘credentials’: From St. Louis. Saw first Cardinals game at age 4 at the Busch Stadium of two iterations ago (aka Sportsmans Park). Gave my heart over to the game that DAY. Sylvan fields, Stan the Man, organ-only music (no ‘Who Let the Dogs Out’), learning to fill out a scorecard from my dad. I have been rewarded for my fealty with 8 World Series appearances and 3 crowns over the intervening 65 years. During that time the Cards have been all manner of different kinds of teams

    • art thiel

      So you’re saying the Mariners aren’t the Cardinals? I think we knew that.

    • howard goodman

      Oh geez, Burford. That scenario of a young boy and the scene at Spring and Dodier Sts. Is exactly like my own. Everything you mentioned …the same. I was in U. City and took the Redbird Express bus when I went with friend.. looking back now, I see that parents did not helicopter!
      I don’t know about local city cultures of Kansas City And Houston, but St. Louis had some sort of spirit that Seattle now lacks. (Maybe Sick Stadium and the PCL were closer to it. ) i too am sick of Who Let Dogs Out and video games. ART!!!, I’m just a nostalgic ol fart. No hope for me.

      • art thiel

        You’ve earned the right to lament, Howard. But just for the sheer WTF, try opening arms/mind/heart to one or two changes. See how it feels. Please report back.

  • Ken S.

    …the club’s persistently dubious existence.What can I say? I’ve been watching the Mariners since 77. Chalk it up to low expectations, I suppose?These days it’s just comic relief for me. 42 years of (mostly) bad baseball, and low expectations. There was that 116 game win season, for which the M’s gave us what we expected, low expectations. They’ve certainly delivered on what I’ve come to expect.I’m 71yo, I’d love to see them get into a post season series just one more time before I cash it in.

    • art thiel

      Imagine being a fifth-generation Cubs fan after they finally won. You’d spend a week and a chunk of change on Cubby wreaths distributing them to the graves of four generations of relatives.

  • howard goodman

    I’m probably only man in PNW who owns replica Joe Garagiola #17 St. Louis Cards jersey. And been in Seattle from there for decades, many decades.
    (end declaration of bona fides!)

    I’ve just recently stopped paying attn to Ms except to wait for another Thiel post to appear. The problem is the city. Aristotle was right: a human environment like a city has an everlasting essence that it gets from the air, water, food, music, & gonads. Seattle baseball is unfixable. Something about that combo. Baseball requires a certain male, even gentlemanly, esprit. It must have a real local town, where young talented rabble-rousers can engage with mobsters, artists like lounge musicians, salseros, etc., and baseball writers. All we offer are panty-waist unconsciously corrupt and brain-deadeningly uninteresting socialist govt officials, loud meaningless rock, and one super talented writer whom no agency will hire to follow an entire baseball season!
    TLDR; Summary: can’t change team. Must change town.

    • Tian Biao

      if it takes a ‘real local town’ with all those fine attributes that you list, then how do you explain the championships won by Houston, Kansas City, St. Louis, and even, gasp, Anaheim?

    • art thiel

      You go, Howard. Fix the town, not the team. Novel.

      I believe your imagery evokes a time in the 1950s when Garagiola was a youngster. Alas, it is no more. Anywhere. Teams must now win World Series despite the absences of all the cultural imperatives you offer, as my man Tian points out below.

      But I like your thought, a one-hopper to the wall for extra bases.

  • Howard Wells

    the first 15 games were a disaster! I’m sure it caused a HUUUGE amount of embarrassment and anger in the offices. They failed miserably at their stated goal of tanking….sucking on the gas pipe…whatever. Management laid down the law to the coaching staff! Lose, lose fast, and lose big! Show our fans we are serious about improving this team! I laughed at the first 15 games and I’m content with ownership’s success since then because my M’s are back to Mariner historical normality. I will be attending my one annual game in July and I didn’t even check who we will play on the 8th. Husky football is coming up and the Totems will return sooner or later. The Mariners are not even a small summertime diversion.

  • JoeBlow

    A common fallacy of sports fans is to expect the same performance year after year even though the players gets younger or older, the team roster, management and/or ownership changes. This is the first time in a long time that management is supported by ownership. Such support means that unlike corporate America, you don’t need to sacrifice the good of the company for the short-term enjoyment of the stockholders (fans).

    I can live with the bullpen as it exists but the present team drives me crazy with all the errors because you expect major leaguers to know how to catch. But still, I have hopes for the future and I think JD has done a good job moving forward. Time will tell but this year, I plan on going to Tacoma to look at the future.

  • Robin & Maynard

    A ’67 Mustang and ’66 El Cam (396 possibly?) in one column! Muscle!

    • art thiel

      I’m told the El Cam was a chick magnet in Pullman of the ’60s.

  • Mark Maples

    I really do want to follow and keep track of and watch the Mariners. They have lost me for this season. They are still creating some buzz with the homers, but even that gets drowned out when its regularly a 15 to whatever loss. How much less are they charging for tickets and merchandise this year? Wait, I know the answer to that. Is this a maybe unintentional temporary glitch? Hey, I know the answer to that too. I watched and followed the Pilots at Sicks Stadium, and the Mariners in the Kingdome days, and even now at Sa, wait, T-Mobile Park I WANT to watch them but can’t anymore. They HAVE tanked, and if I want to watch developmental ball in a great family atmosphere then AAA is a great option. They have made their choice, clearly. I’ve made mine too. Just one fan’s disappointed opinion…

    • Steve Buckholdt

      These are spot on comments. Management is rubbing it in our face by charging full price for a really bad team. Yes, the opponents can be good, or at least the Mariners make opponents look good, if not great. I would encourage everyone who needs a baseball fix to go to Rainier games.