September 18, 2010
As the regular season winds down, 22 teams are facing an offseason filled with golf rounds and hot-stove strategery.
Meanwhile, the fans of those squads are looking at the prospect of spending the winter without the warmth of a postseason appearance. In an attempt to bring some closure between franchise and follower, we're asking a blogger from each team to write a cathartic missive to their disappointing 2010 lineups.
Up next is Alex Akita of Seattle Sportsnet, who laments the return of the M's flirting with 100-loss seasons after that uplifting mirage that was 2009.
Dear Seattle Mariners,
This isn't working out and to be perfectly honest, I think it's time we took a break. Now before you say anything, let me explain myself.
First of all, I know what you're thinking and the answer is yes. It's you, not me. I've given you everything, but all you do is take, take, take. This is supposed to be a partnership, a relationship. There is supposed to be some back scratching, some reciprocation. But that's not the case here at all.
Face it, you're a loser. You've lost all season long, from opening day until the final out of the year. Because of that, you won't see the playoffs and now I won't see
Aw, come on now, don't cry there, Mariners. Tears won't solve anything. You just look foolish with your face all screwed up like that. I've never told you this before, but you're an ugly crier. It's probably best that I tell you now, since we won't be seeing each other anymore and you'll have to improve yourself for someone else.
Keep in mind that this is for the best and who knows, maybe six months from now we'll hook up once again. Not for anything serious, though. Probably more like a late-night booty call after Seahawks season and an evening of bad decisions. And you'll have to take me back, because let's be real here: Beggars can't be choosers.
The Good Times: We've had some good times together, of course, and no one can take those memories from us. Ichiro's(notes) streak for 200 hits, Felix Hernandez's(notes) Cy Young candidacy, the emergence of Jason Vargas(notes), a splendid first half from Doug Fister(notes), two-and-a-half months of Cliff Lee(notes). The defense of Franklin Gutierrez(notes). It wasn't all bad.
But let's be honest. Aside from the occasional highlight, this
year was mostly a nightmare.
The Bad Times: For starters, you told me to believe in you before the season even got underway. What do you mean you don't remember saying that? Your team slogan was "Believe Big." It really doesn't get any more explicit than that.
Believe Big, my ***. You deceived everyone. You told us we were headed for the World Series. You marketed this year as THE YEAR. You couldn't have been more wrong. You're like a politician who makes empty promises, gets voted into office, then spends four miserable years wasting taxpayer money. We elected you based on hope. But all you did was fail us.
Secondly, we have to address your mental instability. You're crazy. You're run by dingbats. The men upstairs are absolutely insane, running around their offices like they've been sipping on Purple Drank and popping pills. And of course I'm referring to team president Chuck Armstrong and CEO Howard Lincoln. Here they are now:
These two old-timers would have a tough time managing a fantasy squad together. Yet because this ballclub is the possession of a delinquent owner in the form of the Japan-based Nintendo Corporation — a group of individuals more concerned with floating mushrooms and overweight Italian plumbers — Armstrong and Lincoln are two inmates allowed to run the asylum over here in the States.
When they aren't firing dedicated employees or sending out hateful emails attacking the media, Lincoln and Armstrong are overruling the decree of their organizational braintrust — general manager Jack Zduriencik.
The winner of the 2009 AL Executive of the Year award, Zduriencik has spent this entire season taking bullets for the men in charge, looking foolish in the process, and sacrificing his reputation for the good of the team. So what if his bosses would be better served micromanaging the break schedule at Macy's? Zduriencik has remained loyal to the cause, though no one in Seattle is exactly sure what that cause is. Which is quite the quagmire for all involved — fans, players, coaches, and suits alike. It's just too bad that Zduriencik will likely be the next spare part unloaded by this franchise during the quote-unquote rebuilding process.
Not that Z is completely innocent, however. Keep in mind, it was Zduriencik that felt this team could win with pitching and defense. Notice I didn't say hitting. Because there wasn't any in his offseason acquisitions, and there hasn't been any all year.
Zduriencik's 2010 class of newcomers was an epic fail in every sense of the term. He brought in the likes of Chone Figgins(notes) (who has a penchant for insubordination), Eric Byrnes(notes) (who's off enjoying his post-retirement life of riding beach cruisers and hitting softballs), Casey Kotchman(notes) (who is arguably the best-fielding, worst-hitting baseball player of all-time), Milton Bradley(notes) (or should I say the ghost of Milton Bradley, since he's been invisible all year), and Brandon League(notes) (who has a knack for imploding at all the wrong times).
top of that, you have the baggage that was carried over from last
season into this one. For some unknown reason, you paid a number of
people loads of money to sit around and do next-to-nothing for most of
the year. You paid Erik Bedard(notes) to eat up your medical insurance. You paid Ryan
Rowland-Smith(notes) to be your resident blogger, not your third starter. You paid Mike Sweeney(notes) to be a violent clubhouse manager.
And lastly, you paid Jose Lopez(notes) to be an out-of-shape, overweight,
underperforming offensive and defensive liability. Yes, Josie Slopez was
all of those things.
I'd go so far as to say that everyone shares some blame for this debacle. As a result, our relationship is tarnished. We're like Reggie Bush and Kim Kardashian. Only you're a lot uglier than Kim. And I definitely didn't receive any improper benefits.
It's Not All You: Well, actually, it basically is all you. I'd like to think that I can make an excuse or two for you, Mariners, but I really can't. About the only good thing you did all season long is flip Cliff Lee like a remodeled rambler, pawning his bad back off on the Texas Rangers for a promising bevy of youngsters, headlined by first baseman Justin Smoak(notes).
Other than that, I'd say our differences are irreconcilable. You went all Britney Spears on me, and now I'm left standing here dressed in a wifebeater, holding two future convicts in my arms like Kevin Federline. I plan on taking half. And only giving you custody on the weekends. If you're lucky.
Shape Up or Ship Out: So you want to make amends? If we ever plan on carrying out a friendship after this failed romantic endeavor, I'm going to need you to do some things to show me you care.
For one thing, I need you to take out the trash. The Lopezes, the Bedards, the Kotchmans ... they all need to go. Get rid of them. Replace them with new, improved models. Get your minor leaguers up here. Dustin Ackley(notes) (right), Michael Pineda(notes), Matt Mangini, Smoak. Give the youngsters a chance. At least they'll play like they give a damn.
For another, you need to find a skipper to right the ship. You canned your once and future leader in Don Wakamatsu, and now you've bestowed the reins of the roster unto Daren Brown, the Dan Quayle of major league managers. Brown's not going to cut it, to say the least. We need a big-name guy, a veteran presence with some pizazz. I'd recommend someone like Bobby Valentine. Someone who can gain the respect of the players as soon as he sets foot in the clubhouse. Without the right man in place to take control of this mess, your world of disarray will continue to spiral out of control.
Finally, and most importantly, you need to fire Armstrong and Lincoln. Not put them on watch. Not reassign them within the organization. Fire them. They've run this franchise into the ground. They've destroyed what was once a great product on the field. They've blamed others for their miscues, casting off hard-working company men who became scapegoats for their failures. Ultimately, they've lost our trust and can never gain it back. Their run is over. Their time is up. We cannot move on with either of them at the helm. And until they are terminated and out the door, this team will never contend, never sniff a World Series, never get us to "Believe Big."
It's all on you to change, Mariners. I'd like to think that we can make this work. But for right now, it's a lost cause.
Time for me to move on.
See you next April,
* * *
Follow Alex on Twitter — @alexssn
Read Big League Stew's previous Dear John letters here.