Once upon a time, I purchased an Ed Hardy t-shirt. I know. Stupid. But in my own defense, this was at the cusp of the Ed Hardy movement, prior to Ed Hardy making its name as the official clothing brand of douchebags. I realize that’s not much of an excuse, but whatever. I’m opening up to you people. Stop judging me.
Anyway, the shirt was fairly basic. It was black, short-sleeved, and was probably adorned with a few skulls and snakes and hearts and the like. I don’t really remember. I’ve tried to block this episode from my memory.
At the time, the shirt cost me around $20 to $25. I worked at Nordstrom, you see, and had a discount. Still, for me, that was a hefty price to pay for a t-shirt I was only sort of sure about. To make matters worse, as soon as I got the shirt home, I ripped the tags off, confident I would love and cherish my Ed Hardy shirt for all-time. Idiot.
Over the next couple years, the shirt sat folded in a drawer, untouched. I wore that shirt in public exactly zero times. And yet I couldn’t bring myself to give the shirt away. I had to justify my $20-to-$25 purchase by hoping against hope that Ed Hardy would rekindle itself as a clothing company with some level of respectability. What if I gave my shirt to Goodwill, only to watch Ed Hardy reemerge as the brand of an entire generation? I couldn’t risk that happening. So I kept it. And kept keeping it. I refused to let that shirt go.
I liken that shirt to Chone Figgins, disgraced Seattle Mariner that he is. Much like my ill-advised clothing purchase, Figgins was a poor investment by the Mariners organization a few years back. And not unlike me, poor investor that I was, the Mariners have attempted to justify their mistake by retaining an asset that carries minimal value and serves little practical purpose.
There’s no denying the fact that Figgins is the worst player on the Mariners’ active roster. The numbers tell part of the story, while the intangibles complete the tale. As he’s spent the past two-plus seasons underperforming between the baselines, Figgins has complemented his sub-par play with an equally sub-par attitude. He’s squabbled with his manager, bristled at the media, and in general, done very little to endear himself to a fan base that wanted so badly to see this guy succeed.
Ultimately, the Mariners will have to cut Chone Figgins. He has no discernible trade value and isn’t worth keeping around until his contract expires at the close of the 2013 season. On a team building towards the future, a deadweight veteran with little-to-no upside brings nothing to the table.
But instead of just severing ties with what manager Eric Wedge calls the team’s “super-utility player” — and there are all sorts of jokes to be made there — the M’s continue to cling to Figgins for no reason whatsoever.
On Thursday, the ballclub had their first great opportunity to dispose of Figgins’ festering presence. With catcher Miguel Olivo returning from the disabled list, a roster move needed to be made. Faced with a tough decision, the team crumbled under the pressure and instead took the easy way out, optioning outfielder Casper Wells to Triple-A Tacoma.
While Wells will benefit from extra playing time with the Rainiers, his confidence will undoubtedly suffer a blow from the demotion. True, he was essentially the Mariners’ fourth (or some might even argue, fifth) outfielder. But at age 27, Wells may not be much more than that. And with little left to prove in the minor leagues, should Wells really be forced to earn his way back to the majors? It’s not really fair. To Wells, to the 24 other guys who suit up each day, and to us, the fans.
There’s a reason we hate guys like Chone Figgins. At every job we’ve ever worked, we’ve known a Chone Figgins. He is the overpaid louse that casts a pall over the office and does nothing to help the rest of the team. What do they see in that guy, we ask ourselves. Why do they keep him around, we wonder. I’m putting in twice the effort with twice the results and I can’t get that paycheck, we cry. And it’s true. Figgins is more than just a shitty baseball player at this stage in his career. He’s a reminder that no matter how hard some of us work, we’ll never be as entitled as the high-priced investment that the company has hitched their wagon to. The Mariners have hitched their wagon to Figgins. The results of that single decision have hurt the organization, hurt the product on the field, hurt guys like Casper Wells, and insulted the fans who pay to watch this team play.
The Mariners need to rid themselves of Chone Figgins. They will end up releasing their “super-utility player,” eating the remainder of his salary in the process. But in doing so, they’ll separate themselves from a bad decision that has produced nothing but negativity for everyone close to the team. Why delay the inevitable?
About two-and-a-half years after I first obtained my one and only Ed Hardy t-shirt, I was preparing to move. As I was packing my things, I picked up that hideous crew-neck and gave it one long, final look. Then, without a second thought, I stuffed it in a plastic bag: Goodwill. I had finally absolved myself of that incredibly short-sighted impulse buy. It felt great. Good riddance.