Armstrong's retirement comes at right time
A new chapter is begging for the Seattle Mariners.
Last week, Mariners President and Chief Operating Officer Chuck Armstrong announced his retirement at the end of January 2014. Let’s be honest, given the history of the franchise, it’s long overdue.
With a 2,145-2,321 (.480) record in his tenure with the Mariners, Armstrong’s teams weren’t able to break even in his 30-plus years of service since 1983, with some time off between 1990-1992. From the fan perspective, and from a shareholder’s perspective, that means we didn’t get a return on our investment.
Sure, the team’s most recent stretch of ineptitude has captured, or rather lost, the attention of the fan base. Going through six managers in the last seven years, the Mariners are borderline irrelevant in Major League Baseball, and are seemingly headed into a lame-duck 2014 season. Armstrong's retirement is well-timed to bring in a fresh point of view and leadership, hopefully someone who can get this ship going in the right direction.
While many will point out that Armstrong’s teams never made it to a World Series, he had some incredibly influential moments with the Mariners. He was instrumental in holding off on the Mark Langston trade, which in return let us get Randy Johnson. Armstrong also was a strong voice opposing moving the team to Tampa Bay in the early 1990s.
As fans, we have a lot for which we can thank him. And then again, not so much.
Despite the success of the team from the mid-1990s, and the fond memories evoked from teams nearly 20 years ago, the Mariners can't seem to find the right rhythm to win. Armstrong's teams have done well in their community outreach and are beloved by fans, just look to the respect given to Edgar Martinez, Jamie Moyer, Dan Wilson and company. Their slogan in the 1990s was true: “You gotta love these guys.”
Fans of this team hurt when the seasons go sour, turning into the messes we’ve endured for so many years. I have no doubt that Armstrong’s decisions were made in the best interests of the team, and he likely believed the signings and trades made over the years would improve the Mariners. But there comes a time to step aside after years of struggles.
Armstrong’s influence has reportedly waned in recent years, with little involvement taking place at certain levels. Those reports weren’t specific as to what areas saw less of his participation, leaving that open to fan speculation.
Being the man calling the shots for the team, Armstrong bears the weight of the team’s inability to win on his shoulders. But, as Steve Rudman at Sportspressnw.com said, “One down, one to go.” For many fans, seeing Chairman and CEO Howard Lincoln leave would be a dream come true.
At least, we can hope the next team leader doesn’t oppose a basketball team taking up residence down the road.