In contrast to DINGER FRIDAYS, on Sundays I’ll be bringing you links to or selections from some of my favorite writing on Edgar; a little something to read with your coffee in case the theme for the NYT crossword is too painful for words (today’s is such a dog of a theme, all the dad-ness of dad jokes without any of the charm). If you have a piece you’d like to nominate, please put it in the comments.
As Mariner fans, we are used to being frustrated with the BBWAA and its writers, its arcane and obtuse voting rules, the East Coast bias that keeps our beloved Edgar out of the Hall. But Erik Lundegaard’s piece from the September 2004 issue of Grand Salami magazine, written in honor of Edgar’s retirement, is probably the first I read that properly located how angry we should be with the team itself, for squandering Edgar’s talents in minor-league ball, for putting him in a box labeled “glove-first prospect” and leaving him there even as his offensive accomplishments snowballed.
When we look at the teams of the 80s, those infinitely collapsing neutron stars of failure, we see failure written across individual players’ backs. We blame craven ownership for shipping out talent before it became expensive and constantly flooding the organization with the brackish waters of second-tier players. But we should blame the talent development, the managers, the scouts—any person in the organization who looked at the soft-spoken, unassuming man with the strong accent and blinkered themselves to the power within, because he didn’t look like “an athlete.”
There’s a lesson to be learned here, probably, about first impressions and not taking people at face value and examining your own prejudices, but I just re-read Lundegaard’s article and now I’m all mad again. (You should read it, as well, if only for the last paragraph, which is beautiful and neutralizes the sting some.) I suppose we could offer the Mariners’ player development department at the time a pass; hindsight is 20/20, etc. “It was the era,” some might say. “It was how things were done.” But that explanation always feels hollow and disappointing, no matter what it’s applied to; furthermore, recognizing it doesn’t give Edgar back the three extra years he could have had for building the Hall of Fame career he’s now fighting to have recognized as such.