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“Most progressive team in baseball”: New Business Ops President Catie Griggs speaks to media

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Owner John Stanton and fresh hire Griggs fielded questions from the press this morning

Ben VanHouten/Seattle Mariners

John Stanton and Catie Griggs presented themselves before members of the press this morning, with the entire search committee in attendance for the first time in person as well. Stanton expressed his appreciation for the group, which included internal staff and a number of prominent Seattle community leaders. He highlighted their focus on a national search, with over 100 candidates evaluated.

Stanton emphasized her role in fostering a soccer community in Atlanta as a highlight on her resume and laid out her responsibilities with the team: sales and marketing, HR, IT, finance, and ballpark operations. He noted, as expected, that she will work alongside Jerry Dipoto, who will continue to report to him for everything related to baseball operations.

In her opening statement, Griggs’ focus was on people and relationships, which aligned with the soundbites gathered from her career thus far. She repeatedly lasered in on the fact that she is here to “listen and learn” from fans and the people of Seattle.

Griggs broke down her approach to each of three broad groups: fans, staff, and players. For those who support the ball club, her stated focus is finding out what it will take to make the Mariners the “single best experience in the city of Seattle and moreover in sports,” later noting that she has a “myopic focus on fan experience.” For internal staff, the emphasis is intended to be on building an inclusive, passionate culture in which innovation and service to the broader community “are pervasive.” For the players and those involved in baseball operations, her goal is to bring the “grittiness and championship mentality” that is present on the field to the front office.

She quipped that she is highly aware of the need to “effectively galvanize the PNW,” and that there is a relationship between better fan experience and “bringing in resources for a championship.”

When asked how long it would be before the changes begin, she pointed out that her new role as president officially starts later in August, and that there would be a great deal of “listening” prior to any changes. In response to MLB.com’s Daniel Kramer, she stated the importance of coming in with initial hypotheses, but not assuming they will be confirmed. She hopes to learn the city, fans, and the staff, and proceed from there without preconceived notions about what the franchise needs.

In spite of that comment, Griggs already seems to have a finger on the pulse of the city’s baseball fans, with a call to “bring back lapsed fans” surely resonating with many. It’s evident that she is up to speed on the state of the team, with her comment about the “energy and momentum on field” ringing true to anyone who witnessed the epic comeback on Monday (trade frenzy notwithstanding).

On the hiring process itself, she focused on her attraction to the committee’s passion and their emphasis on values over skills as the primary draws to the role. When asked to enumerate the values she brings to the team, she once again returned to her passion for people and her “human-first lens.”

The punchiest quote of the day came in response to that question as well. With her voice staccato and her tone pointed, she boldly stated that there is “absolutely no reason this should not be the most progressive team in baseball,” calling that goal “low hanging fruit.”

Quite a change from Kevin Mather, no?

She went on to elaborate on her ideas about what it means for a team to be progressive. To her, she says, it’s not only about “diversity, equity, and inclusion,” but about “foward thinking technology” and “new and emerging ways” to engage with fans

That’s no small goal, but it’s one Stanton believes she has the to skills to work towards. The outside perspective will hopefully bring the freshness that the Mariners front office needs so desperately. What exactly her goal of listening to fans will look like logistically is uncertain, but based on her comments the ball will start rolling on that by the end of the summer.

Needless to say, the press conference today was certainly less painful to witness than any sort of Rotary Club webcam footage. So far, so good.