Most of us here will remember when Geoff Baker published his scathing article of the Seattle Mariners under Jack Zduriencik, Howard Lincoln, and Chuck Armstrong. I was living in California, sort of reveling in the joy of signing Robinson Cano, and had finally felt reattached to an organization that had driven me away. Eric Wedge's unceremonious end and a 91-loss season had given me pause to reinvest in the 2014 season. Cano gave me a reason to. Then Baker dropped the bomb.
I got texts from several friends from back home. It was all doom and gloom. Of course this was the real reason the Mariners hadn't gone to the playoffs since 2001. It was a poisonous culture perpetrated by the people at the top and trickling on down even to the rookie ball teams. Breathe. Think about it. The article, likely containing some truth, was a smear-job that largely rested on the back of testimonies from people who were, rightfully or wrongfully, now on the outside looking in of the Jack Z regime. Surely there was venom in their words.
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away."
Fast forward to right now. Almost two seasons have passed since that article was published. Here we sit, a week removed from a stirring call to arms that this team has stumbled to answer. Dave Dombrowski is no longer a candidate for the M's front office, stolen by the Red Sox. We look again for hope, for a reason to plug in. Hope, optimism, the silver linings, all these things are easy to find, which brings me to the second part of my optimism for this team. If the scenario outlined in my first, illogical, incoherent, and pathetic attempt to salvage positive emotion from this season does not come true, there is a second, also optimistic outcome.
Whether you wanted him specifically or not, Dombrowski was certainly in the Mariners' sights. This represents something important, and I believe, hopeful. Without a playoff appearance, this offseason should spell the end of the Jack Z Era in Seattle. Perhaps even with a playoff appearance it would spell the end, due to the simple nature of how 2015 has gone for this roster. That is a sad thing as that firing, or "letting go", as we now call such instances in 2015, means real heartbreak and turmoil for real families. It is the nature of this beast. Seven years is a long time for a rebuild to not end with a playoff birth. I say this especially for a city that contains another sports franchise that is wildly successful. That franchise does not play baseball but instead plays American football. A seven year leash is long enough for your dog to run away 56 times around the world*.
Musing on the end of the Jack Z Era, the likely beginning of a new one, and that piece of writing by an author that surely crumbled us to our core while inspiring an anger directed at some distant point we could not distinguish, the words of Percy Bysshe Shelley came to mind. In the above poem named "Ozymandias" a traveler of a distant desert reveals to the reader their finding of the statue of Ozymandias in the desert. The work speaks on many levels, of the pride and greed of Ozymandias, the power of the stone mason in the lasting legacy, and also, of mortality. It had me thinking of the interpretation of this poem and its relevance to our situation now.
In one interpretation, Jack and Howard and Chuck are Ozymandias, they have decreed a statue made of their reign and Geoff Baker has traveled the desert to see it. Baker sees the crumbling, ironic artifice and recants its nature to us. We are the reader, or the receiver of the tale. We are trapped by the image of the crumbled regime, the vast meaninglessness that one man, or in this case, three men designed without understanding its ultimate demise.
In the second interpretation relative to our situation here and now, Baker is Ozymandias. He created his art with the intent of immortality. It is ugly, snarling, not the statue he had hoped it would be in looking back. We are the desert travelers. We see the statue for what it is, a testament to Time's ever-moving forward. Baker's work no longer stands. Instead, what remains are two trunkless legs. The reader? The listener in this interpretation? Well, that would be the new front office. Our words serve as warning. See this. Build with greater and lasting strength.
The characters in Baker's piece, following a future that involves the letting go of Jack, will all be relics of the past. Gone will be Armstrong and Zduriencik. Lincoln will be forced to take a lesser role in day-to-day running of the club. Think of what being in line for Dombrowski would mean. To peak his interest there would have to be an understanding that the new GM or president would be given the reigns in a way that Jack likely no longer has. The remaining candidates would have to see that same commitment. A shift is coming. Those endless sands may yet give rise to a new statue, one that we all look on with fondness. May the stonemasons be kind to us.
*This is assuming an average speed of a dog running to be around 23 MPH, an aggregate of the 16-31 MPH range of most dog breeds. However, some greyhounds have been clocked to run up to 45 MPH. These are the facts.