Mariners need to step out of insolvency
It’s October, and that means it’s time for the greatest spectacle in the history of sports: the end of another Seattle Mariners season.
On “The X-Files,” FBI agent Fox Mulder said “I want to believe” regarding the existence of extra-terrestrial life. Mariners fans across the Northwest, including myself, have adopted the saying for the team, wanting to believe that one day the team will manage to have a stretch of success.
The organization is arguably in deeper despair than it was at its last major crisis, around 2008 when it had a failing management, offensive woes and were equivalent to an old dishrag sitting on the sink gathering a rather pungent smell. This year, they finished 71-91, four games worse than last season.
Well, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Sure, Safeco Field received a facelift in the past offseason. It now boasts smaller dimensions, a purportedly great eating establishment in Edgar’s and a high definition screen so everyone can watch Felix Hernandez up close. But those physical improvements don’t add to the players taking to the field.
Just like in 2008 people are clamoring for a change in upper management, hoping to hit a restart button on the team’s perennial struggles since the start of the millennium. Why the need for new leadership at the top?
The Mariners remain one of the teams in Major League Baseball who have never tasted a World Series game. After over 35 years in operation, the team has only advanced to the postseason a handful of times, the last being 2001 when they won 116 regular season games. Since then, while the M’s have achieved just four winning seasons, they have achieved the status of “most unimportant team in the league” for 2014.
Let’s be honest, outside of Hernandez and a handful of fairly talented youngsters, the Mariners in 2014 don’t really have a reason for competing. Their general manager, Jack Zduriencik, has been given a one-year extension (read that as a “lame duck” year), after which he’ll likely be gone. After a once-promising start in 2009 that began by cleaning house and setting out to build a strong foundation, questionable-turned-terrible trades and signings have doomed his tenure. Milton Bradley, Chone Figgins and Jesus Montero are just three names that come to mind.
Ultimately, this offseason is one of the most important in the franchise’s history, and the best solution I’ve found is on the blog USS Mariner. First dump the baggage of terrible players and administration. Then, instead of going the same traditional route as the other 29 teams in the MLB, let’s take our good ship off on an adventure. Let’s have a player-manager.
It would be a complete shake-up of the current system, and would help save some money on payroll. Sure, there’s the question of how smoothly things would run, but at least it would provide a reason for the Mariners to give an older player, like Raul Ibanez, a contract for next year. While he might not be productive out on the field, he at least has the chops to be a great manager, earning kudos from former skipper Lou Pinella.
If the Mariners give this a serious look, it could bring a bit of life into the team, assuming the offseason falls flat on its face. At the very worst, having a player-manager would mean the team would be the laughingstock of baseball, in which case nothing really changed from 2013.
James Eik can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.