The Seattle Mariners have a gap at middle infield, and the team seems more willing than it did last year to fill that gap by signing a shortstop. And that’s convenient since this year’s free-agent class is headlined by four outstanding shortstops: Trea Turner, Dansby Swanson, Xander Bogaerts, and Carlos Correa (it’s been reported the those last two will exercise their opt outs). The problem is that Seattle has traditionally had a hard time signing big-time free agents.
Even though Seattle’s become a more appealing place to sign than in past years, there are still a lot of reasons for players not to sign here, like the preposterous travel schedule and being far from the places most players call home. That’s why Seattle has usually had to not just outbid, but massively overbid the market to land a big free agent, as they did with Robinson Canó and Nelson Cruz. So the last thing the Mariners front office needs is to finally land a big free agent to fill a huge hole in their lineup and immediately face a round of skeptical questions.
But that’s what they’d get with Carlos Correa. Why? This problem was made possible by contributions from fans like you.
A very loud contingent of Mariners fans clearly isn’t over the 2017 Astros’ cheating scandal.
In the most recent game that the Mariners played—the memory that will linger into the offseason—Mariners fans put on a hell of a display. Much of it was driven by the two-decade wait for a playoff game in the Emerald City, and even more was driven by the intense nature of the 18-inning game. But the hatred for the Astros poured out from the bleachers and the luxury boxes alike. A rain storm of boos pummeled the Astros and “You’re! A! Chea-Ter!” chants rang out every time Altuve, Bregman, or Gurriel stepped into the batter’s box. On a day where the stadium shook, nothing popped more than when Altuve struck out. And it’s clear this isn’t solely about the budding rivalry between the two teams. The fans were pretty discerning about which particular players they were booing; other than Yordan Álvarez, nobody got boos that wasn’t a part of the banging scheme.
But this was hardly the only time the Mariners booed the 2017 Astros. At the home opener, fans booed so loudly that Yohan Ramírez couldn’t hear the PitchCom and Tom Murphy had to stop the game.
This sequence continues to be very funny to me. pic.twitter.com/k8v9JzOQ4J— Action Zach (@RealZachMason) October 29, 2022
Those are some loud boos for an empty, high-pandemic stadium. And it didn’t go away when he left the Astros for the Twins.
Jerry? Jerry! It's Marvin ... Your cousin--Marvin *Dipoto.* You know that new sound you looking for? Well listen to this: pic.twitter.com/4tccgZZKq5— Action Zach (@RealZachMason) October 29, 2022
To be sure, the 2017 Astros get booed everywhere. But my sense from watching games is that save for the Yankees and Dodgers, the vitriol spewed by Mariners fans is unique. And unlike Yankees fans, Mariners fans are generally a good-vibes-only group. The hatred the Mariners fans have shown toward that group is uniquely vicious, ostentatious, and recent.
So if the Mariners bring in one of the core members of the team by signing Correa, the front office is going to have a PR problem to solve. Jerry Dipoto’s nothing if not a wordsmith, so I’m sure he’ll figure out what to say at that press conference. But it won’t be as easy as when Robbie Ray signed and Dipoto got to gush about signing the reigning Cy Young winner.
Now before you start @ing me, let me be clear that I am absolutely not saying that the Mariners wouldn’t or won’t sign Correa. This is a bad reason not to sign Correa, and I’m sure it won’t be the thing to stop them. I’m just saying it’s a problem they’ll have to solve.
And what’s more, if it does happen, it’ll create a bit of a PR problem for us as fans too. We’ll be in the position of having to defend our own hypocrisy when we’re suddenly cheering for one of the most prominent members of the team we hate so much.
So how can we bridge the gap? Maybe by hating the Astros. For aside from 2017, Correa’s past as an Astro could make Seattle a nice fit. In the midst of an outstanding postseason to top off a Rookie-of-the-Year campaign, Jeremy Peña is inspiring a round of headlines like “Jeremy Pena leaves Astros fans saying ‘Carlos Correa who’ as he wins ALCS MVP.” What better place for Correa to stage his revenge tour than by joining the team that’s aiming to finally oust the Astros from the top of the AL West?