Fandom affects the economics in sports. One of the reasons the Yankees and Dodgers can afford to purchase the Universe is because they have millions upon millions of die hard fans that tune in every day, attend every game, and make sure that the team is flush with money. Location matters, simply from a numeric perspective, but fandom matters more. Houston, Oakland - these are enormous areas, but they don't have enough fans, so the team spends little money. LA, New York - these are also enormous areas, and they also have zillions of fans, and so they are flush with money. Money shouldn't be the only driver in sports financing, but it still exists. No one in the world is going to burn 100 million dollars for nothing.
The Mariners, right now, have a lot of fans. But they don't have a lot of money. The disconnect isn't the number of fans, but the number of fans that want to bother with the Mariners. They have been a bad team for a long time that hasn't delivered for what were once diehard fans, and that means fewer people are going to the game and fewer people are putting back the money that the team spends on the team. The Mariners are, in many ways, a self-fulfilling poor investment.
Now It's Different
But that was yesterday. This is today. Seattle, as a city, has been desperate for a team to cheer for. They have wanted to spend money more than anything else - and wanted that money to deliver something real. Something they could be proud of. Today, thanks to a team in a completely different sport, those dreams were realized.
Now there is a high, and like any high, it's going to come with an addiction. If Seattle was willing to stand for losers before, it is most certainly not now. This city - my city - has tasted winning, and anything that could take away from that high is going to become quickly irrelevant.
If the Mariners lose this season, they're going to lose more than another year of Kyle Seager team control. They're going to lose any chance they have of eliminating the cynicism that people have for them. If the choice is to care about both the Seahawks and the Mariners, and one of those teams shows that Seattle actually can be successful, and the other team shows it's still a joke, then the joke is going to be tuned out and the winning team is going to be the priority. Seahawks fans aren't going to accept another love letting them down. They're going to prioritize their love to the team that reciprocates. Losing is not an option.
But the reason that the Mariners need to make this year the year isn't to avoid losing fans - it's because it has a chance to get them all back. The Seahawks have, in essentially two weeks, created a culture of winning, and thus a culture of sports. Finally, the city knows what it's like to win, and they are going to continue to want it.
If the Mariners can deliver... if the Mariners can deliver, then imagine what this high could do to their ROI, and what it can do for the culture of baseball in Seattle. Much like the Seahawks victory has a chance to absolutely RUIN Mariner's fandom, especially for the casual Seattle fan, so too does it have a chance to reinvigorate it, and get people to believe that "Mariners" isn't a verb any more.
Before today, I went back and forth between whether I thought the Mariners even COULD go all in, let alone whether or not they should. Now I think they don't have a choice. It's time. They can't wait until 2015, 2016, and beyond. They need to win now, and if they do, the effects of that victory may be even better than even they imagined.
Go Hawks. Go Mariners.