Waking up in Australia sometimes has its benefits as a baseball fan. Mostly because you don’t have to wait around all day to watch it. Mariners games that are 7 pm starts on the West Coast start at midday and give me something to listen to while at work. Day games are a bit painful, especially when played on the East Coast which is usually 3 or 4 am starts for us here in Australia, eg. this morning. One of the negatives though is waking up to breaking news and today was probably the worst one I can remember.
First, let me say Ichiro will always have a spot in my heart. Growing up in Australia we didn’t get much if any, coverage of the MLB until 2000 at the earliest. I started rooting for the Mariners earlier because of playing Ken Griffey Baseball on N64, so to see them play live on TV was awesome. Then bang, 2001 starts with this new RF named Ichiro which blew my mind.
“Wow, look at this guy coming in from nowhere and killing it!”
I loved Ichiro some much that even to this day when I play baseball, I base my stance on him with his famous pose. I do have a soft spot in my heart for him and so this opinion isn’t from a lack of respect or admiration.
Today, the Mariners called up Erasmo Ramirez from the DL and optioned Guillermo Heredia to AAA Tacoma. WHAT?! I just cannot believe this move and from responses on social media, neither can most of the Mariners fanbase either. I had an active fan poll on my Twitter in the last week and the results showed that 62% thought the Mariners should DFA Ichiro and 22% to option Heredia to AAA.
This move by upper management is absolutely bewildering, and in my opinion, most blame goes to ownership. Jerry Dipoto, whether he has had control on the decision or some of an opinion on the move, deserves some of the blame too. Ryan Divish mentioned in a tweet earlier today “It’s not Servais and my sources say it isn’t Dipoto. So it is ownership.”
If this is the case then everything the Ownership has said to us over the last few years is complete rubbish. They always say they care about winning and breaking the drought of no playoff appearances since 2001 but this move contradicts this winning mentality in every way.
There is no plausible baseball decision that benefits this team for keeping Ichiro.
There has been mention that the argument for keeping Ichiro in the team is because he has “great team chemistry” and a “leader in the clubhouse”, but this is drivel. The team is in a great place with an abundance of great leaders because of players like Felix, Robbie, Nellie, Kyle, and Edgar. I don’t know how much leadership you need but there is the old saying ‘to many cooks spoil the broth’.
Guillermo is not only a better defensive player, which Servais obviously thinks as well because he keeps bringing Guillermo in for defensive upgrade later in games replacing Ichiro. But also because Guillermo has shown better speed, has more power at the plate and is hitting .310/.417/.552. Ichiro has been one of the greats, but early sample size shows the player Guillermo can be for us this season, and damn it, Guillermo deserves better than this.
I can’t wait to hear how the Mariners ownership and media team try and spin this decision as a baseball decision but, to me it will be all be damage control. The decision is purely a nostalgic, ticket grabbing decision. The Mariners have shown their hand. They don’t want to make a tough decision and prove that the decision to sign Ichiro again this season was a mistake.
The decision to sign Ichiro should always have been the opportunity for him to play as part of a 1-day contract to retire from the game wearing the uniform in which he made so famous.
Unfortunately, this decision by Ownership has tarnished his legacy in my opinion. This move has made me think that the ownership doesn’t care about winning. It’s going to be a long road back from here and so hard for them to earn the trust back of the fanbase. They need to now show they actually care about winning and it’s not all about getting a couple of extra ticket sales.
Just a bit of enlightenment for you Ownership, do you know what will bring in extra ticket sales? Give the team more of a chance of winning by putting the best team on the field.