Month: November 2018

The Times When It’s Hard to be a Mariners Fan


Jerry DiPoto

This post should be about the Zunino/Heredia for Mallex Smith trade.  Or perhaps about the impending, gonna happen any minute, James Paxton blockbuster. But it’s not.

I’ve had about 24 hours to digest the news that Dr. Lorena Martin, the M’s highly touted Director of High Performance was quietly relieved of her duties after the season’s end.  Yesterday she responded to her firing with accusations on social media the Mariners behaved in a racist fashion, She stated that General Manager Jerry Dipoto, Director of Player Development Andy McKay, and Manager Scott Servais called “latinos dumb, lazy and stupid, especially the Dominicans.” She also suggested the Mariners fired Latino trainers for “trying to do the right thing.”

Predictably, the Mariners have denied any of this.  The team denies that “any member of our management or coaching staff made racist remarks regarding any of our players or staff” and says it has “not terminated (or threatened to terminate) any trainers during the off-season.”

We know the accusations.  We know the defensive crouch the team has taken.  That’s all we know about this incident.  Today Major League Baseball announced they’d begin an investigation.  Until Martin produces evidence she says she has, or until the team can produce on the record evidence it says it has, or until MLB produces a report based on evidence it gathers, the public has nothing.

Except i’s opinions.  From Ken Rosenthal, to Lookout Landing to the comment section of every web-story about this incident, everybody is ready to express their view sans facts.

There is no way the M’s can emerge from this unsullied.  Even if Martin is found to be entirely unbelievable and simply seeking revenge for being fired for cause, the M’s are being slammed by Rosenthal for not doing due diligence for the hire, while seeking the notoriety of hiring an academic, Latina, outsider to a an important insider position.

Of course, if her accusations are found to be true, the idea of tearing the team down to the studs will take on new meaning as everyone from team president Kevin Mather on down will have to go.

If the truth is somewhat more gray, that Martin was not able to walk in job-ready and needed support the team didn’t wish to supply, or was unwilling to follow the recipe for high performance she was suggesting, it’s the M’s who look like eternally incompetent dopes for hiring someone unready, or really not being about this whole new health angle.

As a fan, it’s hard to feel very good about all this. Not only has the home team not made it to the playoffs since I was young, slim and without gray hair, but they’ve looked made decades of bad trades, hampered themselves with ridiculously bad contracts, and failed to develop an incredibly number of high but poorly chosen draft choices. Dipoto is simply the latest of Mariner GM’s to promise to win a championship, but even he is no longer content to “stick with the core” and if he isn’t going to trade away everybody, he’s at least willing to “step back” in an effort to become more competitive.

Somehow, being competitive feels much farther away today than it did at the end of the season.  For this Mariners fan, it feels like I can’t go outdoors without stepping in dog shit.

For those, like me, who support the home town team, my counsel is patience.  We know little.  This feels like calling for impeachment without knowing what’s in the Mueller probe.  It’s been 24 hours and no new facts have surfaced, but the sports news cycle, like the political news, has to have something to sell. The proof will be in the findings.  That said, I’d be prepared for the worst.

Meanwhile the Mariners are in the process of hiring two new coaches, and I suspect that in the not too distant future, life will go on as the M’s deal their ace, and hopefully don’t fumble the riches in return. But who knows what this organization will look like by the time Spring Training begins.

It’s Been a Long Time


Since June actually.

I could make all kinds of excuses, but honestly the 2018 Mariners were just a difficult team to write about after about July 5th.  All the things that went well in April, May and June-decent pitching, timely hitting and a different hero every night, dissolved into ineptitude, lassitude and tiresome losing baseball. 89 wins was a big improvement over 2017, but it was truly the most enervating 89 win season in history.

Even the playoffs didn’t really go my way.  I rooted for the underdog A’s, clobbered by the hated Yankees.  Then the Astros and Brewers, but all to no avail.  A World Series featuring the Red Sox and the Dodgers?  Really?  Who do you root for in that?  A meteor?  A plane crash?  The return of the bubonic plague?

But when it was all over, I had to ask what happened to the game I loved?  More strikeouts than hits.  Waiting around for a home run to win a game?  This is analytics run amuck to ruin a game that used to be a chess match of skill versus skill.  Now it’s simply a bet, a die roll and hoping for the best.  This is the worst of 60’s baseball without the embarrassment for striking out. High 90’s heat versus launch angle plus exit velocity may be 2018’s idea of a good time.  But if Rob Manfred really wants to know why people aren’t watching–this might be it.

Even so,  2019 is just around the corner. There will be trades and Hall of Fame voting to talk about. Spring Training isn’t all that far away.