In an alternate universe, a press conference is scheduled for tomorrow. A white Mariners uniform will hang on one of their plastic blue hangers— it will have a navy 14 on the back, with "Piniella" arching above it.
On Twitter, pictures of the proceedings will be shared out by Divish and Stone and the Mariners themselves. And interspersed among this digitally-created scene will be snark—lots of snark. "I can't believe this is happening." "Is the date for the bobblehead set yet?" "Now's the time to look forward, not back. Again."
But then Lou will take a seat right in the center, he'll adjust the microphone, and then he'll remind us that he's done this before—not in a "those were the days" kind of way, but in a "I'm dead serious. I know how to do this" kind of way.
No, I didn't write this post to argue that the Mariners trying to hire Lou Piniella was a good idea, and that he'd fit as the M's next skipper. But when I saw the report, and stopped shaking my head and smirking in bemusement, I certainly thought "Well, I suppose they could do worse."
Shannon Drayer eventually reported that a potential Sweet Lou comeback was his own idea, but she made a point in the latter part of her post on the subject that caught my attention. She agreed that the Mariners trotting the team out for promotions and such was growing tired, but that doesn't mean they can't be brought back at all—she asks why you wouldn't want them associated with your team:
The opportunity is there. For better or worse, Piniella will not be the manager, but a manager and coaches will be hired. We know Edgar can hit. We don't know if he can teach. Why not find out? What could Wilson do on a daily basis? A better question might be, what couldn't he do? What hasn't Buhner seen on the field or experienced in the clubhouse? What could he teach a group about being a team and a teammate? Or about toughness? How many times have we heard Blowers call a play before it happens? He sees the game before it happens. It is called baseball smarts and he has it to the nth degree.
It isn't just about 1995. This group and others were there but more importantly, and perhaps relevant to what we see today, is that they got there.
That last line is the key—there's a reason the glory days were the glory days. The select guys who fueled mid-90s and early-00s teams (many from both eras), are likely the most knowledgeable baseball players in the history of this organization. They have deep ties to the Mariners, and they may have the ability to help turn this around. Just look at Edgar Martinez, one of the greatest hitters in the history of the game, and listen to his approach on hitting again, from Scott's interview yesterday :
Some coaches and some scouts, they have the style that you have to be more aggressive. My style was completely opposite. I was aggressive when I felt that I needed to be aggressive. I studied a pitcher enough so that I have an idea of what they want to do, and I don't want to be aggressive in situations when I know that pitcher is going to pitch around me, if he's going to throw a slider or a change-up. I want to be aggressive when I feel good that this guy is going to come with a fastball in the middle of the plate, he wants to get ahead.
Isn't that exactly what you want? It's new-school patience with a dash of Russell Wilson's "separation in preparation." And then, if that wasn't enough, he explained why letting guys build confidence in the minors, and figure things out there, is a good idea.
I don't mean to say that Edgar and the gang are absolutely the ones to turn this around, but I've seen a lot of people—understandably—dismiss the idea on its face, thinking that the only purpose such a tactic serves is to drum up fan sentiment.
And when one of these hirings does happen—and it is probably more of a "when" than an "if"—we should all take a second to consider the possibility that things might work out.