Mariners News: CEO Howard Lincoln Resigns as Nintendo Sells Majority Stake

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Apr 8, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics coaches, staff and players wait for the national anthem to be performed at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 8, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics coaches, staff and players wait for the national anthem to be performed at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports /
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The times they are a changin’, at least they are in the Emerald City.

There was major chatter on social media today that the Seattle Mariners were set to announce significant changes within their ownership group. A press conference was scheduled for 3 pm this afternoon at Safeco Field, and the M’s did not disappoint.

There were two franchise altering changes announced this afternoon.

The first was that Howard Lincoln, the chairman and CEO of the Seattle Mariners, is stepping down from his role with the club. Lincoln was previously the chairman of Nintendo of America, Inc. (the Mariners’ majority owners). He has essentially served as the company’s voice in the organization since taking over for John Ellis as M’s CEO in 1999.

Lincoln released a statement today regarding his decision to step aside as M’s chairman and CEO.

"“From the first day of our involvement nearly 24 years ago, Nintendo has had two goals for its investment in the Mariners,” Lincoln said in a statement. “First, we wanted to assure the permanence of the team in this great city. And on that count, I am proud and gratified that this agreement further solidifies that goal. On the other hand, I’m equally disappointed that we have not been able to host a World Series game for our fans."

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The second earth shattering nugget of info is that Nintendo of America, Inc. is selling it’s majority stake in the Mariners. The new majority ownership group will be led by John Stanton, who will take over for Lincoln as the M’s chairman and CEO. Nintendo will still retain a 10% stake in the Mariners. The deal is reportedly worth $1.4 billion dollars.

Lincoln played a key role in saving baseball in the Pacific Northwest, and fans will always be indebted to him for that. However, he has played an even greater role in the destruction of what was once considered a top-tier franchise in the years since.

The M’s have graced the postseason only two times during Lincoln’s tenure, and his poor personnel decisions are a big reason why. The 76-year-old’s first hire was arguably his best, appointing Pat Gillick as the club’s executive vice-president and GM in 1999. Gillick was the architect of the team that won 116 games in 2001, tying the record set by the Chicago Cubs in 1906 for the most wins in a single season.

However, skipper Lou Piniella left after the 2002 season, and Gillick was gone after 2003. Not surprisingly, the winning also disappeared in Seattle. The Bill Bavasi era was one fans try to forget, and Jack Zduriencik is not the most popular figure amongst fans these days either. The Mariners made the playoffs four times between 1995 and 2001, but they have failed to play october baseball since.

Maybe Lincoln’s worst moment as CEO was allowing Alex Rodriguez to walk out the door following the 2000 season. Rodriguez was just 24 years old at the time, but had already represented the M’s at four All-Star Games. The fact that Lincoln and his cohorts allowed the best player in the game to walk away without getting anything in return was inexcusable. Say what you will about A-Rod the man (and you’re right in saying so), but the Mariners sure could’ve used his talents the past 15 years.

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The reverberations of today’s announcements will be felt for many years to come. John Stanton and his group are locally based, so that leads one to believe they will be more motivated than Nintendo (a foreign company) was to bring a winner to Seattle.

It’s sad to think that many Mariners’ fans cannot remember what 1995 or 2001 felt like. The enthusiasm about the M’s during those seasons was equal to the 12th man phenomenon of current times. Hopefully Stanton and company will help shift the franchise from perennial losers into consistent winners.

Next: Mariners Go for 5th Win in a Row

It’s hard to predict what the future will hold, but today’s changes should provide M’s fans with another reason (did I mention the Mariners are currently in first place in the AL West) to cheer.

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