Sports fans are inherently selfish. If it was up to us, rebuilding years wouldn’t exist and every single season would involve a championship pursuit. Money would be no object, and like monopolizing board game tycoons we’d buy everything in sight and kick our competition’s ass all up and down St. Charles Place.
We are never satisfied, sports fans. We want it all and more. We want the rings and the trophies and the gaudy commemorative gear. We want our guys to be the best and your guys to be the worst. We actually yearn for wins with our tangible promotional giveaways, and we crave the taste of success, not sorrow, amidst the bubbles of our ten-dollar stadium beers.
This is the backdrop for our 2016 Seattle Mariners, who have pieced together the type of campaign that warrants a serious decision in the coming days: win now at the expense of later, or win later at the expense of now.
With just four days left until Major League Baseball’s non-waiver trade deadline, the M’s have made a pair of transactions that seemingly fail to indicate whether they are in fact buyers or sellers at this critical juncture.
The departures of lefty Mike Montgomery and embattled setup man Joaquin Benoit have yielded first baseman Dan Vogelbach and righty reliever Drew Storen, respectively, via trade. Both Montgomery and Benoit were expendable assets whose absences will have minimal bearing on the current course of the club. Likewise, Vogelbach, who is big-league ready at Triple-A, and Storen, a 28-year-old former closer, could each contribute right away. As a result, our insight into the Mariners’ plans for the rest of the season remains as cloudy as it’s ever been.
With a thin farm system and a major league roster creeping up the standings, contradicting forces are currently at work. An argument could be made that selling aging veterans to stock the minor leagues would be beneficial for the long-term fortunes of the franchise. At the same time, an equally compelling argument could be made for maximizing the short-term potential of these veterans in the waning years of their prime and adding pieces to bolster the lineup down the stretch.
There is no easy answer, of course. In his first year on the job, general manager Jerry Dipoto has to carefully consider the future direction of his organization before choosing either path. And with such an important outcome looming, there really is no better time to offer unsolicited advice on behalf of the fan base. So here we go.
It’s quite simple: Go for it, Jerry.
Go for it.
In the words of fictitious former Cleveland Indians catcher Jake Taylor, “Win the whole fuckin’ thing.”
Your ballclub is as consistent as they come. With a 51-48 record, and sitting only four games out of a playoff spot as we speak, it’s clear the M’s can contend. Add to that the fact that they haven’t been particularly streaky – their longest losing streak is six games, while their longest winning streak is four – and you have a recipe for a playoff run.
These guys are stable. They seem to like each other. They get along and there are no signs of divisiveness in the locker room. You actually managed to pull off a turn-back-the-clock day without any of your pitchers taking a pair of scissors to the throwback jerseys. In today’s climate, that’s as good a sign as any.
Robinson Cano isn’t getting younger. Neither is Nelson Cruz or Felix Hernandez. Even Dae-Ho Lee is ancient in baseball years. Your core contributors are closer to joining you in the front office than they are to rekindling the outsets of their careers. This is it, dude. If this squad doesn’t win now, they may never win. And if this nucleus can’t reach the postseason, well, that’s terribly disappointing.
You’re a pitcher away. A bat away. Not a pitcher AND a bat AND another pitcher AND another bat away. You’re this close to having your personnel in perfect working order. It won’t take the world to give this team a needed boost. Just a guy, maybe two.
Then you have the fans. Not that the fans have any bearing on the org, of course, but let’s delve into the subject anyway.
We’ve been patient, Jerry. Forty seasons is a long, long time. There are Mariner fans out there who have come and gone without so much as a sniff at a World Series crown. We’ve waited and waited and had nary a reason to be excited since 2001. That was 15 years ago. There are high schoolers who have no idea what the playoffs look like. Our last postseason appearance preceded the birth of the iPod, the advent of the smart phone, the rise of Google, and the breakup of ‘NSync. Back then, we still associated Justin Timberlake with J.C., Chris, Lance, and yes, even Joey Fatone. Look how far Justin has come since then, Jerry! Why can’t our Mariners do that, too?
Let’s put football on the backburner for a few extra weeks this summer. Give the Seahawks a rest. They’ve kept our Septembers and Octobers interesting, without a doubt, but we can wait until a chill hits the air to get fully amped about our NFL team.
We want this. We need it. You have no idea how bad we need it. We’ve spent the better part of the last decade trying to convince ourselves that the likes of Richie Sexson and Chone Figgins and Justin Smoak would carry us to the Promised Land. We are jaded curmudgeons, scorned lovers.
We need hope. We need something to believe in. You can deliver that.
The 2016 Mariners are good enough to make this season worthwhile. And there are a number of cellar-dwelling sellers out there looking to help us get to where we want to be.
Put a hotel on every street, every avenue, every Park Place, and every Boardwalk. Get us a big fish, get us some wins, and let’s get this team on its way to the playoffs.
Go for it, Jerry.