I am tired. The Mariners introduced Kevin Mather on January 23rd, 2014. His 18 months on the job have seen one near miss of a season and the current catastrophe we've been living through since April. In his introductory interview with the Seattle Times Mather spoke of the importance of winning:
"Obviously we need to win more games," he said. "You take care of your fans, take care of the community, be a good community asset. But win more games and everything else happens a lot sooner."
"Win games and everything else happens a lot sooner." It's an interesting quote and one that comes from the mind of someone with a background in business and finance more than baseball. If spun in the sort of cynical way that comes second nature to Mariner fans these days one can easily point to this as another example that for the Mariners winning is an essential ingredient to success, but not the definition of success itself.
"Everything else happens..." For us, the fans, what else is there to happen? Winning is the everything.
In the end Mather's mindset in this quote is one of a successful and careful business man, and at the end of the day we all know that this is a business, run by powerful and wealthy businessmen. Most honest thinking fans will admit that the act of rooting for a professional sports team as passionately as we do has not a small amount of absurdity and hypocrisy in it. What we want is the team to help us ignore it.
The Mariners fired Jack Zduriencik today, after 7+ seasons of general failure, a two word description that aptly sums up the majority of the Seattle Mariners' history. We've seen the briefest and brightest flashes of glory from this team, only to always, eternally slump back down into mediocrity and defeat.
Look, I am tired. We are all tired. This season has been miserable. It has been miserable and entirely too easy to lump in with 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, hell 1977-1992. This organization has spent its existence gnawing through generations of goodwill and passion for the game of baseball. I, we, see it everyday. I see it in game threads that start out in April with 1500 comments and dwindle down to 200 in August on a Felix Day.I see it on Twitter, when even the slightest attempt to spin something positively leads to a tidal wave of negativity.I see it, lord have mercy, on Facebook. Where the Mariners "du not have there head in teh game and are onl concurnd with $$$".
How can we, how can I, counter any of that? Jack Zduriencik is gone, as he needs to be. Jack Zduriencik did not trade Adam Jones for Erik Bedard, he did not non-tender Mike Cameron, or nix a Jarrod Washburn trade, or ruin the team's relationship with Randy Johnson, or low-ball Phil Bradley, and on and on. Firing Jack had to happen, it was a necessity born of failure. Because of it dozens of people, many of whom work long hours for little pay, will be uprooting their families, changing schools, selling houses, going through massive life changes. This isn't a celebration, it's a required sacrifice to the altar of sports.
I am tired. I have had more fun at Safeco Field this year than any time in my life. That's because I'm very fortunate to be here, on Lookout Landing, a part of this fabulous community, writing with wonderful people who have become friends. In the 10+ games I have attended this year I have, save Hisashi Iwakuma's no-hitter, watched maybe 12 innings total at the park. I and we have just retreated into that "everything else" that Mather speaks about. The baseball has been elsewhere, as far from my thought as it is close to my body. I am tired of that.
The Mariners have, through assembling a top notch marketing department and the careful building and cultivation of Safceo Field, built a glittering cathedral to the gods of "and everything". But everything is nothing without the one thing, and it's the thing that got us there in the first place. It's baseball, it's excitement, it's winning, dammit. It's winning, excellence and the pursuit of those things as the first and foremost goal of everything the organization should be, must be about.
The more fun my friends and I have at Safeco Field, drinking, walking around the stadium, hanging out at Lookout Landing, the more we realize we don't need any of it. We can drink and hangout for 1/10th the cost at a bar, 1/20th at someone's house. Without baseball there is no everything, there is just nothing.
I am tired. In the week preceding Jack's firing and the moments after it the two names heard most were Kevin Towers and Dan O'Dowd; two old-school, failed executives who have proven precious little that they know how to take this team from where they are to where we want them to be.
It has fallen to Kevin Mather to lead this franchise at its greatest crossroads. An entire generation has been born, gone to school, grown to adulthood and is about to start having families that have no memory of the Mariners making the playoffs. There is no more naivety to feast on, and the insane pool of talented writers and bloggers that helped lead this fanbase through the Bavasi era are so burned out they look at the team only when absolutely necessary. There is no Voice, there is no time, there is only the demand that it get better, and that it happen starting today.
We are tired, Kevin. Win. Or there is nothing.