While my football fandom has waned, there was a time (roughly 2010-2018) wherein I carved out at least 3-4 hours a week for the Seattle Seahawks. Oftentimes, my entire Sunday would be dedicated to the sport, by the blessings of RedZone, and the ritual was rewarded and invigorated by the excellence and intrigue of the team. Though my own football career concluded following my freshman year of college, the sport remains generally compelling, albeit less consuming, and yet this is the first year in which the Seahawks could genuinely be considered bad. People are, understandably, displeased (see our sister site Field Gulls for more).
Elsewhere on the mainstream Seattle/Washington sports scene things are predominantly somewhere between bleak and mildly disappointing. The looming Apple Cup is a showdown between a moderate underachiever and a massive disaster. Despite their recent victory, the Kraken have been getting fricasseed on the ice with upsetting frequency in their debut season. Thankfully, the Storm and Reign had excellent campaigns, and the Sounders are their usual brilliant selves, in the midst of a playoff run they could continue tonight, but the gap between expectations and reality in the football and hockey realms have left a window for the Seattle Mariners to earn the focus they’ve failed to claim since the early 2000s in the Seattle sports scene.
No, getting in on a rosy news cycle is not the reason the Mariners should make a move. But the looming likely lockout makes for a ticking clock of sorts - Seattle is attempting to invigorate their fanbase while infusing their roster with talent. Those moves go hand-in-hand, of course, but as staffer Joe Doyle noted on the most recent Lookout Landing Podcast, a pre-lockout move benefits Seattle in potentially cascading fashion. Regrettably, the specter of a lockout on December 1st looms ever more corporeally over this offseason. A lockout does not destine a shortened season, but it does ensure a compacted offseason, something that is likely to suit Seattle ill.
If you are the Mariners, a club with no recent or longstanding tradition of success, a dearth of established “magnet” stars, and a geographical location further from the home of the average MLB player than any other club, you need all the time you can get to make your case. More to the point, you want players and their agents to spend as long as possible seeing you as a viable destination. If Seattle enters December and activity freezes for two and a half months, a flurried fortnight of bidding is an uphill battle no matter how well a player might fit Seattle’s roster. This week, with Jerry Dipoto reportedly making several personal visits to free agents, there is an opportunity to shift of how the team is viewed, both by fans and by those within the sport. The Mariners have frequently chosen to do things the hard way, trimming payroll repeatedly to lengthen time between contention, or operating with misguided belief that players would approach hat in hand to sign. To receive the benefit of the doubt, however, requires results, and results sometimes require major action. No time like the present.