traditional sportswriting is overreacting to small samples and sportswriter hell is knowing better— Jeff Sullivan (@based_ball) June 22, 2013
I remember this every time I think of Jack Zduriencik. And I feel stupid.
Not too long ago, I wrote that Jack Zduriencik deserved more time. It was a post that generated a great deal of reaction, from both this site's readers—and its writers. A lot of it wasn't positive.
I don't intend to reboot that conversation, though I'm sure some of it will bubble up again. It won't, however, return to the same levels. It's the last couple weeks of what's sure to be another 90-loss season. It will be the fourth season in the past five with more than 90 losses.
No one cares, and they shouldn't care.
That, really, is why I've changed perspectives. When I wrote that initial post, I spent the entire rest of the day in the comment thread bickering. Now, whatever.
Could Jack Zduriencik's foundation solidify next year, and his much-derided plan finally reach a point where a destination is within sight, once he finally spends big on a multitude of free agents? Absolutely. Is it possible the next general manager runs this thing through the floor and a few hundred feet deeper, setting the course for a Pirates-level run of despair? Oh, for sure.
Right now though, it looks like things will change.
Larry Stone recently wrote "it seems increasingly inevitable that Zduriencik will pay with his job." Ryan Divish, Wednesday, said "I doubt Z will be here next season." Though it's possible both are going on gut feel as opposed to drawing on inside information (I doubt it), the pair still have a better feel for the team's inner-workings than about anyone.
I'm not sure, exactly, why I thought until very recently that the higher-ups would let Zduriencik—"Hey, give him one last shot with some money!"—be the guy to sign several players to multi-year deals. But, alas, that's getting into the meat of the argument and something I'd prefer to avoid.
Let's lay it out. The Mariners hired Jack Zduriencik on October 22, 2008. If it unfolds like that again, the Seattle Mariners could have a new organizational steward a month from Sunday. Before the first game of the World Series, before the Seahawks even reach the halfway point in their season (holy hell, the Rams get a home Monday Night Football game?), the Mariners may have selected the man—or woman—who will set the course of the franchise for the next half-decade.
But, that may have changed with Thursday's news that Hiroshi Yamauchi, Mariners figurehead and one-time savior, passed away at the age of 85. I don't say owner because, technically, Nintendo of America is the official owner of the Mariners as Yamauchi sold his majority share for estate-planning purposes in 2004 (who doesn't wonder if there's something more to it that taxes?).
Being honest, I began this post Wednesday night. By the time I woke up yesterday, everything shifted. I think.
There's no certainty ownership will change soon. Nintendo of America may wait for the M's to win games instead of selling low—as low as you can be after signing a multi-billion dollar cable deal. Or, you could wake up one morning to the Mariners' majority stake being sold to John Stanton—or the current group taking their chips to the window and handing the entire organization to someone else entirely. Like with the aforementioned cable deal, there may be no news until it's already done.
What's even less sure is what impact new ownership would have on the direction of the franchise. But really, that's not the point. Right now, I'll settle for compelling. I'll settle for discussion. I'll settle for hope.
As soon as the 2013 seasons ends—hell, maybe today—the Mariners will be interesting from now until Opening Day. There will, in all likelihood, at least be both a new general manager and skipper. There will be a search for each position, with the full list of potential candidates, the interviews and then finally the announcements. That, that's just the beginning of all of this.
The best part is the complete wiping away of almost everything that's tormented us over the past five years. I understand I'm not saying anything all that earth-shattering but do we fully grasp how close we are to never having to see another "'the plan' is off course" story or blog post again? Yes, the players, the "foundation" will still be there but, with a shred of luck, we won't constantly be fed quote after quote on doing this the right way—as if the right way necessitates putting fans through a hellish year-after-year tease of potential before eventually achieving a modicum of success (it doesn't).
Just put yourself through the full thought process, I beg of you.
We don't know that whoever's next—from owner on down through manager—will be any good at all. I can't say that enough. But we get to find out, we get to figure it out, we get to decipher every move and every action in an attempt to see what we have, to see what they value, to see how they think.
Change for change's sake isn't the wisest of moves, I'll acknowledge that. But you know what? Neither is devoting a non-insignificant chunk of your life to following a team that's done nothing but crush you for almost half of it. Like complaining about a team not showing old-school baseball class while jumping in your ballpark's swimming pool, you're already knee-deep in ridiculousness so whatever.
All I want is to be interesting again. I want a reason to pay attention everyday, even if it doesn't include games.
Last Friday, when I left my office in Pioneer Square, I walked past person after person in Sounders jerseys. The entire neighborhood—ah hell, most of downtown—was buzzing as Seattle prepared for a match that'd thrust them into first place.
On late Sunday afternoon, as I went to the Safeway in downtown Ballard for ingredients for dinner, everyone had their Seahawks gear. Groups of college-age kids in matching Wilson and Sherman and Lynch jerseys were grabbing racks of shitty beer as they prepped to scream at a TV all night. Hell, when I was at a bar that morning, at 10:00am (go Packers), there were Seahawks fans starting their day there before eventually making plans to head downtown—not because they had tickets to the game, but because they wanted to be close to it.
I want that. I don't expect that anytime soon—but I want it.
Again, right now, I'll settle for interesting. I'll settle for anything other than "Wait. They play baseball games after football starts?"
More than anything, I want to be passionate about the M's again. I want to care.
For the discernible future, with so much at stake in such a short period of time, it will be hard not to.