BY Art Thiel 06:30AM 05/20/2019

Thiel: Mariners fans have a say on stepping back

Mariners fans seem split on their tolerance for the 2019 plan of voluntary enfeeblement. Is there a way to be something more entertaining than dreary losers? Yes.

SS J.R. Crawford, CF Mallex Smith and LHP Justus Sheffiield are big parts of the Mariners’ future. Can you wait? / Alan Chitlik, Sportspress Northwest

After the 13-2 aberration gave way to the Mariners’ 2019 norm — Sunday’s 7-4 victory prevented a four-game sweep by Minnesota, but was just the fifth win in the past 19 games — I felt a need to consult with the smartest people I know, the readers of Sportspress Northwest, who I hope also are susceptible to flattery as brazen as it is cheap.

A week ago in a column, I asked Mariners fans, now that they’ve seen a bit of what it looks like with a quarter of the season in the books, to write me how it felt to follow a team that was declared months ago by management to have no postseason ambition.

Or in the vernacular of the darker corners of sports, tanking. General manager Jerry Dipoto hates the term, preferring a gentler description — a step back. Perhaps we can settle on a fresh compromise phrase — voluntary enfeeblement.

With ownership’s blessing, Dipoto traded expensive veterans (and young All-Star closer Edwin Diaz) for prospects who, in theory, would blossom into championship contenders around 2021, give or take. But not in 2019.

The strategy has become almost commonplace in MLB, resulting in a handful of elite teams, a shrinking middle class and burgeoning group of have-nots.

You, know, just like American economic life.

As far as baseball, the difference with Seattle’s opt-out is the Mariners haven’t won much of anything to step back from, yet managed to work up the courage to ask the constituency for tolerance: Big-league prices for season-long spring training.

Many of you responded with thoughtful answers, which contained varying degrees of understanding, humor, sarcasm, pathos and contempt. Below I’ve attempted to distill some of the best responses so you won’t have to wade through the comments in the original column. I’m the human algorithm.

The survey is no more scientific than President Trump’s climate policy, but the voluntary  outpouring seemed worthwhile because players, coaches and bosses all get paid regardless of seasonal outcome, while fans are the ones bearing the emotional burden of the requested enfeeblement. Thanks to all who wrote.

One response captured in a sentence the overarching civic bewilderment about the Mariners, which has become more acute with the successes of nearly all of the major pro and college teams in the past decade.

johnstark2: 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.

In the 43-year big picture, the need in 2019 to go backward in order to go forward when there is so little history of having gone forward in the first place, is a staggering statement of futility.

Many correspondents were eager to show me their cumulative bruises.

Adam Salazar: 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 highs 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.

Dugoutnut: 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 instead of attending sixty games a year, down to two or three.

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

One reader lamented that not trading OF Mitch Haniger at 28 for prospects shows that the Mariners don’t even know how to tank correctly.

Feldie: 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. 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.

CEO John Stanton, left, and club president Kevin Mather, right, extended the contract of general manager Jerry Dipoto in 2018. / Alan Chitlik, Sportspress Northwest

Yet numerous respondents understood Dipoto’s rationale that continuing to churn through MLB-average players is not the way to create sustainable contention for an organization nearly bereft of potentially difference-making prospects.

Will Shortt: 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 off-season. Here’s to 2020 and just enjoying baseball for the game it is til then!

Will Ganschow: It 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.

JoeBlow: 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.

Effzee: 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.

Stephen Body: 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 . . . 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.

Alan Harrison: 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.

One of my favorite reads was from site loyalist Tian Biao, who responded three times. The first was an empty-the-forward-torpedo-tubes blast. After I suggested he may have been a tad harsh, he felt compelled to apologize. Then he offered the analogy that conveys the love/hate passion that makes caring about a sports team so rich.

1) Here is my ultimatum: if this rebuild doesn’t work, I’m out. forget it. gone. no more re-imaginings 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.

2) 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.

3) 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 . . .

As always, some can’t resist a shot at the manager, Scott Servais.

2nd place is 1st loser: 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.

The contention ignores the fact that Lou Piniella had no previous managerial experience at any level when George Steinbrenner hired him to manage the Yankees. But another reader advocated more than just a firing. He has a replacement in mind: Cubs manager Joe Maddon.

Andy Traisman: 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 Piniella 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 . . .

Poor draft picks and trades came up for the skeptics who can neither forget nor forgive the past. One reader made a point about the long absence of excitement around a can’t-miss guy.

jfabian: The last drafted player I was excited to see come up was Jose Cruz Jr. Think about that for a moment. (The outfielder made his debut in 2007 for 49 games, then was traded to Toronto for relievers Paul Spoljaric and Mike Timlin. Cruz played another 1,300 MLB games over 12 years for nine teams. Then jfabian wrote back to amend his fever-dream list with Dustin Ackley in 2011. Hard job being a Mariners fan.)

Because the club marketers have exploited so heavily the 1995 team — did you know that Edgar Martinez after 10 seasons of eligibility made the Hall of Fame? — the cynicism runs deep for the failure to replicate the excitement.

Matt Kite: 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 . . . 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.

Credit goes to reader Howard Goodman for the most original semi-final word (I get the final word) for deducing that after decades of changing owners, stadiums, general managers, managers and coaches, the fundamental problem is elsewhere.

Howard Goodman: 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, and loud, meaningless rock.

Goodman may have overdosed on Hemingway or Elmore Leonard, but I agree that Seattle needs a 1950s Manhattan-style Toots Shors bar in Pioneer Square where a sprawling town of successful, contrarian people gather to spark, toast, argue, fight and ignite.

Do I think a bar would fix the Mariners? Not exactly. But put that kind of creative tension on Root Sports and let see what happens.

The Mariners are too corporate, too careful, too averse to honesty. All the Root Sports happy talk in the face of 18-4 losses is at least numbing, if not insulting. Discerning viewers don’t want to be nudged away from what their eyes just told them. They don’t want to be made to feel foolish for caring, and expecting more.

For example, I would release the Kraken in TV analyst Bill Krueger to call it as he sees it on a regular basis. He’s a bright, articulate observer, a former Mariners pitcher who knows ball well and knows where the franchise’s bones are buried. Releasing him to be himself would flatter viewers who realize the club trusts them enough to be talked to like they’re adults — especially the kids.

Unleash him to hold players, managers and the front office to account in public. He doesn’t have to be rude or personal to explain directly what’s wrong and what he thinks could be done right. Surround him with non-Mariners employees who know and care about ball to add salt and pepper while they stir the pot. And get them on every social media platform, if for no other reason than to bury the #WhereIRoot inanity.

Unconventional? Risky? Potentially embarrassing? Damn straight.

Lou Piniella explains to umpire John Shulock how he misunderstood the rules. / David Eskenazi Collection

If the Mariners want to be more than a mallpark where kids can be outdoors safely, they need to introduce some edgy relevance to the civic sports discussion, instead of stepping back into oblivion by quietly leading MLB in strikeouts and errors.

They need to Piniella-ize the operation.

Seek to make as many games as possible, on TV or in person, like an encounter with their former manager — unknowable, transparent, edgy, fun, warm and incontrovertibly given over to winning.

The Mariners welcomed their 50 millionth ticket buyer Sunday, certainly a worthy milestone. Conversely, after almost a half-century, the franchise has six weeks of good baseball in 1995 as their claim on Seattle’s sporting soul. Yes, 2001 was cool, but it turned out to be more like a spring break from unrelenting cloud cover.

A great shame upon the franchise is that it has squandered the careers of Ken Griffey Jr., Ichiro and Felix Hernandez by failing to get them to the biggest stage where they would have had a chance to memorialize Seattle baseball. And now the club declares it is years away from even attempting the same feat with a new generation.

Those of us who have been around since the Mariners began can recall all the reasons national and local critics said baseball would never work in Seattle.

Small market. Dubious level of passion for the game. No wealthy local ownership. Under-capitalized. Weak political support. No cable-TV deal. Indoor ballpark in the world’s greatest summers. Too remote from the rest of baseball.

Guess what? Except for travel, the team and the community solved for all of the excuses. The club is so successful financially it even retired early some of the taxes that helped build the stadium.

But they don’t win much.

The club remains for many in its constituency a source of angst instead of celebration. Except for blooper memes, a front-office scandal involving sexual harassment of female employees and another charge of sexism by an executive they fired, the franchise lately has become dull. Of all things, they are somehow managing to diminish the capacity of the home run to excite.

Dipoto, owner John Stanton and others in ownership like to think of themselves as innovators. And Seattle loves innovators. Since no one else in MLB is rushing to the ideas of candor, transparency, edginess and respect for audience, there’s a market opportunity to step forward.

This is, after all, the entertainment business, where it is not helpful if the best thing a fan can say about Mariners baseball is that it is better than no baseball in Portland.

 


YourThoughts

  • Kevin Lynch

    One of your most insightful summations, Art. Outstanding. Too corporate, lacking candor. I like the Krueger Kraken idea. He has the brightest baseball mind in the room. But further, I would pair him with Angie Mentink and let her go postal when the team plays really badly. Let ’em both come on camera in jeans and t-shirts and ballcaps and tell it like it is. They were both excellent players. They know the game. Hit the refresh button.

    • art thiel

      I’d be happy to see Angie join in. Krueger’s understanding from his time is still relevant, and I think allowing him to opine on the technical and the emotional would add much to the presentation.

    • Tian Biao

      that’s a hidden irritant that Art has noticed: all that ‘happy talk.’ I hate to rail on the announcers, but it is really grating when they heap praise and pablum on such a lame product. they lose credibility. they insult the audience. not every market does that: if you listen to the Yankee announcers on yes network, they’re totally willing to criticize bad baseball. I’m sure there are others. It would ease the angst if we felt that the announcers shared our pain, at least a little.

    • Chuck Henry

      Krueger is awesome, I’ve seen him simply disgusted and showing it. If you paired him with Angie it could cost thousands of lives. During his last years I remember Nieuhaus being openly appalled by something, can’t remember what it was. Sims can get pretty ticked off as well and let something drop. What if they made players that blew the game have to sit down with Krueger immediately after the game? I believe their play would improve rapidly as form of avoidance.

      • Kevin Lynch

        Yes, it’s so refreshing to hear a broadcaster lose it. You know who used to do that on radio was Dick Vane (Vain?sp?). He would be incisive but passionate. emotional. Also, who was the KJR host who went to Salt Lake to do Jazz games? He used to get hot. Call it what you will, it was a form of caring.

  • Will Ganschow

    I was listening to the Cubs over the weekend on MLB radio. The two sportscasters sounded like they had been recently found in the basement of the Wrigley Building. Now I can hardly stand to keep the sound on when Arron Goldsmith is on, but this from a franchise that used to be who the Mariners are now and has transformed itself into a “top tier franchise.” Its like with our current state of elections, you can analyse till you are blue in the face but when it comes down to it votes are the only thing that makes a difference. If you put a team on the field and they rack up more wins than anybody else (in the right order) then everyone has all the opportunity in the world to explain why that has worked. Dipoto doesn’t get forever, but at the very least if something isn’t working he tries something else. Enough of waiting five, six years to see if the Ackleys and Zuninos of the world can become complete major leaguers. Hell, maybe moving the club 165 mile south would solve all their problems. We are way more meat and potatoes down her than you all up north.

    BTW are we going to take time to notice what a great example of a major leaguer

    • art thiel

      First I’ve heard about Portland as meat and potatoes. I sense as much arugula and kale there as here.

      As far as Encarnacion, I don’t know that there’s going to be much of a market. Take a look at the AL standings, and the 5-6 playoff contenders are all but set. Who needs an expensive DH among them?

  • Russ Strong

    We need a team in Portland. Maybe a regional rivalry (other than the Blue Jays) will light a fire under the M’s. And they can no longer rely on fan support from Northern California to the Arctic, they will have to compete for it.

    • art thiel

      I’m all in for the Portland Roachclips. I’d also enjoy taking a train to a sports event. Best thing about European soccer.

      • Archangelo Spumoni

        I would personally and proudly donate to some kind of crowdsource funding for any franchise named “Roachclips” and I’m pretty sure we could count on Mr. Art being the Roachclips franchise spokesman.
        Get busy!

  • WestCoastBias79

    I couldn’t agree more regarding the happy Root bubble. It’s like the North Korea of local sports broadcasting, just an insulting display of a refusal to accept reality. As an example of what it should be like, I’m an LA Kings hockey fan, and they had a dismal season. What did they do? They rolled out Will Ferrell as Ron Burgundy to call the occasional period and basically make fun of the team, and had color commentary that brutalized them when they screwed up (which was a lot). It was refreshing that the entire org seemed as frustrated as the fans.

    • art thiel

      I forgot about the Ron Burgundy episode. Thanks for the heads-up. That’s the kind of thing that endears a fan base: own the reality of one’s badness.

    • Kevin Lynch

      I remember the San Francisco Chronicle sports reporting in the mid-80’s. They could be openly critical of the Giants and at times quite satirical about what was going on. They held the team accountable.

  • Joe_Fan

    The “homers” in the broadcast booth and pre/post game crews lost me some time ago. It is one of the main reasons I don’t watch or listen to the broadcasts much anymore. I “get” wanting to put your best foot forward and support the team, but given the endless years of struggle and frustration can’t those covering the team be honest about the team’s shortcomings and critical of management? We are missing open and honest critical analysis of the Mariners and it has to end. If we want better results then lets be transparent about and discuss the real issues and not CONSTANTLY refer to 1995 and/or 2001. And another thing, when at the ball park, how about encouraging rather than stifling crowd involvement? Too often I see ushers hassle patrons for simply being fans in the stands. It is a sporting event. People like to yell and jeer (as long as there is no profanity or personal insults). I think the ushers have nothing better to do. Its a baseball game not church.

    • art thiel

      The regulation of fan behavior is part of the corporate culture I was referencing. It can be a fine line between rowdy and mean, but you’re right, it isn’t church.

      And as I wrote, honest TV discussion of shortcomings shows an audience some respect. Yhe players need to be told to deal with it. It’s the majors, and many of them are millionaire successes.

      • Chuck Henry

        A huge percentage of the fans are women, so making everything feel safe and happy is pretty darn important for the franchise. And they bring their little kids. But I should still be able to yell out at Arod “welcome back you drug cheat!” and not be shussed by the ushers and the 100 angry Yankees fans sitting around my season seats.

      • Chuck Henry

        I wonder if they’d just stand there confused it I chucked a frozen octopus onto the field.

    • jafabian

      IMO that’s what the users are directed to do by the club. They want a family friendly atmosphere. Remember when fans were directed to put away signs that said “Yankees Suck” during the playoffs because the phrase was thought to be too harsh? You will never see Seattle get their own Bleacher Creatures.

      • Joe_Fan

        Oh I know. But I’m not even talking about something that extreme. I’ve seen loud cheering (no profanity, no jeering) suppressed by the ushers. It really is ridiculous. The “family” and “tourist” atmosphere they want to foster is beyond necessary.

      • Chuck Henry

        The Yankees do in fact Suck, why would that even surprise anyone? Those signs weren’t to be derogatory they were warning signs, kind of like “do not go in the water” signs. Why dispute globally accepted facts? The Earth is round, the sky is blue, the YANKEES SUCK. It’s nature.

        • Chuck Henry

          Correction, Mariano Rivera did not suck, he simply perplexed and confounded.

      • Effzee

        I am recalling the Yankees playoff game I attended in 2000 at Safeco Field when the group of Yankee fans two rows in front of me were literally standing and yelling vulgarities at Mariners fans and players and drinking the entire game. These people would turn around to the young (8-12 y/o) Mariners fans who were there with their parents, and yell in their face – literally two inches away, like nose-to-nose with a kid – about what an effing piece of ess their father was, among many other unbelievably horrible things. Numerous people complained to the ushers about the disgusting, abusive behavior and the drinking, and the most the ushers did was walk to the end of their row and meekly tell them to please not drink any more. They looked terrified. Then a different one of the Yankee fans would go down to the concourse and return with two more beers raised high, arrogantly displaying his ownership of the Mariners staff. That was the last time I paid to enter that building.

  • 1coolguy

    As long as suckers show up at TM and pay the man, together with their radio and tv rights, and their MLB take, I suggest management has sat back and thought “WTF, we are making mega-millions from this business without a product, so why bother?”

    • art thiel

      Tempting as it is to agree, I don’t think Stanton and the other owners are that callous. But because Dipoto has yet to prove himself with two franchises, he may feel some pressure to break from the plan to restore some field dignity, and rush the best prospects. So we have Zunino/Ackley, Part II.

      • Chuck Henry

        Or panic as some of the past GM/Manager combos have and try to eek out enough wins trying to cling to their jobs that they over-pitch guys and blow their arms up. It was quite a trail of destruction for a stretch. I give credit to Servais for not being an agent of pitcher arm death.

        • Effzee

          See my post about rediscovering their gonads, re: Stanton.

          One can only hope.

          I’m with Traisman. Bring on that guy with the Cubs. Ol’ What’s His Name.

  • Chuck Henry

    Hi Art, long time listener , first time caller. I love baseball, and went to a Bosox game last year that was intense. However, I had season tickets along the 3rd base side the year Chone Figgins got in the fight with that horrible manager and Jose Lopez, and that was the same year some other really pathetic things happened unrelated to play on the field. But that fight did it. Losing is disappointing but in a good way, that season actually saddened me to the point I didn’t watch or go to a game until 2018 season. So they fire sale all my favorite players on some lie that they will rebuild even though they have shown no capability to develop superstars in their own system since before the dawn of man (Gillick). Then you have the press shilling for management and dumping on Ichiro not being some kind of mythic Clubhouse Leader (last refuge of bad managers) and drubbed him out of town. Then you had the press shilling for management and dumping on Griffey for taking a nap. No great franchise treats their heroes like that. So now Dipoto is a genius for trading away Diaz, Cano, Paxton etc.? That’s simply spitting in the fans faces. He’s such a genius of baseball he got thrown out of the Angels organization. Is he loading up the farm system with amazing prospects? No he is bringing in cheap labor. He is buying time to keep his job. It’s a swindle ladies and gentleman. If you dig into it the Astros weren’t some geniuses tanking, they actually stunk, but once the right folks started running things they turned it around very quickly. It’s saddens me, which is hard as I grew up in the 70s going to Padres games :( Egads

    • art thiel

      You’re throwing around more shillings than a Liverpool pub, Chuck, but I get the angst from perpetual losing and churning. If there’s one thing that stands out about Dipoto’s step back, it’s that he hasn’t gone at it hard enough. I don’t think 2020 is realistis at all, and 2021 seems a ways oft, given the needs.

      • Chuck Henry

        It’s like everyone out there claiming we can be on Mars by 2023 when we can’t even launch one astronaut. They are making it up, the human dynamics and variables in baseball make calculus look like a kids game. Just the fact that 60’6″ and a 100MPH fastball magically creates a situation where the batter is at the limits of his neuro-processing capability, the ball can vanish mid flight , and the best predictors with the marginally faster firing synapses are the great hitters. These people just appear, quickly dispatch the minor leagues and dominate. Guys that SEE THE BALL Art, when they can’t actually possibly see the ball, but they see it anyway. It’s nuts, and some of these guys only come up once in a generation. A lot of things have to go right for rebuilding to work, and they often don’t. Also have to have the right manager, who can win with one or two awesome guys and a bunch of replacement level players. Playing chess and not checkers. Madden, Anderson, Bochy, Francona, Herzog, Cox etc. You hand them a team, they start winning baseball games. That’s probably what I love about baseball, it looks simple but it’s one of the most complex games on Earth.

    • Effzee

      You bring up a good point. The Seattle Times is a problem.

    • Chuck Henry

      Yet again, I take it back, Cano is a drug cheat, BYE BYE. I wish Paxton well but he’s going to experience a lot of surgical pain during his time on earth. Diaz, they did him a favor so he wouldn’t waste his career. His agent must have been seeing the future pretty clearly. Give the team credit for not shafting him just to sell tickets.

  • Chuck Henry

    Also there are a lot of reviled ex-Mariners out there that have very productive major league careers. The organization has zero class, and fancy scoreboard, boat races, and $1000 beers can’t cover up for that. Thank you and goodnight.

    • art thiel

      I don’t begrudge the Mariners’ aggressive marketing of their product. Their non-game events are among MLB’s best.They are not classless.

      But the cascading series of player-personnel misjudgments have left Dipoto with a do-over from 40 years back.

  • Ken S.


    bury the #WhereIRoot inanity.Throw #TwitterTuesday in the hole too before filling it in! And a whole bunch of other stupid stuff. Art, you’re right on target about baseball culture, I don’t think Seattle is a baseball town, and it’s the lack of a proper approach to baseball. Bark in the Park? Lord, spare me! Whoever thought that one up should be fired.

    • art thiel

      Seattle is definitely a baseball town, whatever that means. They led MLB in attendance in 02 at 3.5M. I do think the club management has had so many personnel misfires that even cannibalizing the 2018 roster isn’t enough for a recovery by 2021.

      • Ken S.

        I’d like to believe you, Art. It just doesn’t have the same feel as the mid 90’s, probably the heyday of baseball in Seattle. FWIW I’ll keep supporting the team, got nothin’ better to do other than to play a round of golf tomorrow. 4-5 days per week of that and I’m tuckered out! Old age, yeah the Golden Years. Everything hurts some mornings. Especially last night’s M’s results. I see they are now in the cellar, and I feel so much more comfy!

      • Effzee

        The true baseball fans that make it a baseball town still exist. They are just waiting, and doing other things, because they aren’t taking the bait. Its not being a fair-weather fan. Its about giving the same level of respect you get, not handing over fistfulls of dollars for the privilege of watching certain loserdom. Hope is an important element in maintaining a fanbase. Without hope, there is no belief that winning is being pursued in good faith. Its just not worth the time or money it requires.

    • Russ Strong

      How about their salute to the military. A 10% discount! How insulting to the men and women in uniform? That barely covers sales tax in King County. While stationed in the Bay area in the late 80’s military got 50% off any seat for any game. And this was during the era of the bash brothers and A’s world series teams. Oh by the way the Giants gave military free outfield seats for any game. 10% discount for select games when most enlisted folks make less than minimum wage when you take into account the hours they put in is ridiculous. Okay, stepping down from my soap box now.

  • jafabian

    Great column Art and thanks for acknowledging the readership! The Astros have continuously been mentioned as the franchise to model when rebuilding but in recent times the Royals and Rays have followed the same formula. So have the Seahawks for that matter. Shannon Dreyer of the M’s broadcast team has said on Twitter that if anyone can’t see what the M’s are doing to the club doesn’t follow baseball. Assuming the M’s do reach the top of the mountain this town will blow up. It will be like when the Hawks won the Super Bowl. But to keep Cano, Diaz, Paxton et al would have been keeping mediocrity or worse. Dipoto decided to roll the dice thinking there was nothing to lose and everything to gain.

    • Chuck Henry

      I agree with everything after you take Diaz out of that statement. Getting rid of the blown up arm guy and the drug cheat yes. Getting rid of Diaz was a favor to Diaz as they were going to waste his career so yes they did the right thing but not because he sucks. They should have done the same thing with Felix 8 years ago so he could have experienced winning and so we could have at least died knowing if he would have been a great playoff pitcher or not. We’ll be watching Diaz closing World Series games one day and got to see when he first hit the stage.

      • jafabian

        Trading Diaz to the NL was probably a good move for him. No way was he going to be better and typically after a closer has a monster season they regress. Going to a league that doesn’t know him was good for Diaz at this stage in his career and his value was extremely high which worked out the M’s.

  • Effzee

    You hit it right on the head. Its something I’ve been saying for years. Chuckenhowie’s skin was so thin that they jettisoned everyone with personality and grit, and sterilized the atmosphere for the sake of selling tickets. They feared the Piniellas and Jeff Nelsons of the world who only wanted to win and were not afraid of calling out ownership with their passion for the actual game of baseball. They wrongly thought that garlic fries, digital hydroplane races and the stadium itself were enough to keep the fans coming. This drove away nearly 100% of the true fans of baseball and filled the stadium with kids, soccer moms and milquetoast corporate dweebs who they knew would never, ever demand more than the bells and whistles of the environment. But the people they catered to were not true baseball fans, they were not in it for the long haul. Going to the stadium for the sake of going to the stadium was a fad, and it passed. Essentially, they hacked and murdered the true baseball fanbase of this city, kind of like Wally Walker did when he ran Kemp and Payton out of town. Baseball is not now, nor has it ever been, a clean sport. Its full of cursing and tobacco spit. The franchise needs to rediscover its gonads.

    • Joe_Fan

      Hear hear!

    • Chuck Henry

      Jeff Nelson was awesome.

    • Chuck Henry

      Effzee, I think where I stepped over the cursing and tobacco spit line was when their quality of play made me start projectile retching during the 7th inning stretch. Ushers thought that was a bridge too far.

      • Effzee

        Those ucking fushers.

    • Chuck Henry

      I did hear rumors that the Mariners were going to do a pre-game tribute to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

      • Effzee

        I’m pretty sure they should have the Marlboro Man throw out the first pitch one of these days. And then they should have the Rainier Beer Artesians run the bases during the 7th Inning Stretch. And someone doing a Barney Gumble impersonation definitely should sing the National Anthem. And have Andrew Dice Clay be the stadium announcer.

        • Chuck Henry

          Please refer to my post on creating proper carnival atmosphere and greased pig racing.

        • art thiel

          Maybe Charles Barkley could throw the first drunk through a window.

      • art thiel

        Actually, they are welcoming back the Sonics for the 40th anniversary of the title on June 1.

    • art thiel

      The dollars of the true fan are just as good as the dollars of soccer moms and dweebs, and there’s more of them. However alienated you feel, attendance and TV ratings haven’t cratered, although a few more dropped fly balls may change that.

      But I do wish scoundrel players would make a comeback. Jeffrey Leonard and Kevin Mitchell were good copy.

  • Chuck Henry

    What PNW folks have never done is make a fun thing out of this ongoing failure. We could be like Chicago before they ruined everything by getting good. Or Boston until 2004 (a team that constantly rebuilds and wins the WS every few years). In fact we could simply blame Ruth being traded for our woes. Also they should let you boo a lot more at the ballpark here, loudly, early and often. A lot of these guys already aren’t trying dur

    • Chuck Henry

      Also bring Chone Figgins back in a role as goodwill ambassador and boxing instructor.

    • Effzee

      “I am now over my intense couple of days of trauma at the shaky hands of the Mariners.”

      I don’t believe you.

      • Chuck Henry

        Yeah I made that up, they have damaged me permanently, I wake up screaming about Felix getting beat 1-0 on consecutive outings. Don Wakamatsu and a team full of raving mental patients. Eric Wedge having a stroke. Hargrove just walking out and refusing to say why. And of course Chone Figgins.

        • Chuck Henry

          And the year they lowest batting average dating back to ancient Mesopotamia, and I had been punked for partial season tickets

  • Chuck Henry

    What makes a baseball town is a town with a winning baseball team, consistently winning, not winning it all every year. Hopefully one day Seattle gets a great playoff series. Anyone who went to the Bosox game last year that Paxton pitched and we won in the 8th got a taste of what that would be like. Everyone is that stadium was fixed on each pitch, each swing of the bat, it was intense, nobody was doing anything but watching the game. A madhouse. FLASHBULBS popping folks! Imagine a whole bunch of games like that, and then playoff games. Then you have a baseball town. My memory of the 1984 National League Championship is a feeling I’d like all the fans to get to have. Garvey goes 4 for 4 with game winning homer, Goose closes out the game. The stadium literally shook when Garvey or Gwynn came to bat. 50000 people chanting their names. Stuffed cubs dolls hanging from nooses. Home runs flying over our heads. Maybe one day here.

    • Effzee

      The surest sign of futility and hopelessness is the constant murmur of the crowd, when you can hear individual laughter and the active un-paying attention to the game.

    • Chuck Henry

      And then the Tigers made the Padres look like a little league team in the series, I choose to block that out.

  • Chuck Henry

    I have been out of touch, but excuse me, where the heck in Jason Vargas? I keep looking for him to come in and stop losing streaks, and yes eat innings like skittles, but he appears to be gone. COME BACK JASON we promise to clap. Also Ketel Marte is missing, I called the cops. I should probably check the sports page more often.

    • Chuck Henry

      At least we got Segura for Marte. Whoops! Well they also got Mitch, who should stick around awhile for his big one year $590k contract. Baseball iz hard

  • Larry StoneB

    I live in the Philippines. I subscribe to MLB Video and watch many games. I suffered fifty years os Seattle bad weather. And it seems like 100 years of Mariner mismanagement. (Exceptions: Gillick/Pinella). If I want to hear good strong baseball announcers, I tune into a Yankees game. Mariners? Weak nickname. Give me the Seattle Malaise.