As Roger Skaer have famously stated, if you screw around, you're gonna find out. The Seattle Mariners found out, as the “September to Forget” collapse was fully complete. The Mariners blew a division lead that they held heading into September, and saw a comfortable wild card lead vanish to an overrated Toronto Blue Jays squad. Worse, Seattle saw their hated rivals in Houston hang another division banner and the Texas Rangers pass them in the AL hierarchy.
If that was enough pain for M’s fans, the following days were arguably even more devastating. Cal Raleigh had been rumored to have been chastised for making honest remarks on how the team needs more impact players to get back to the playoffs. Whether he was forced to apologize or did it on his own terms, it’s clear that the players sided with Cal, while Scott Servais sounded out of touch in an interview before game 162. So after the Mariners won a meaninlesss game that gave the Astros the division title, they caused a cracks in the dam between players and leadership.
On Tuesday, the dam broke. Local and national media cooked Jerry Dipoto and John Stanton for their comments (or lack thereof with Stanton) during an end of season press conference that was suspiciously not available to watch live. The 54% quote and “doing the fans a favor” comment will haunt Dipoto and this franchise. This is once again a reasonable process, but terrible execution of a plan. Yes, if you average 87 wins over the course of a decade, you’re probably getting a lot of bites at the apple. The delivery, arrogance, and disregard for such a passionate fan base was a massive punch to the gut. This franchise has the most embarrassing playoff history of every team in the league, and it is not even close. You simply cannot be talking about some Kevin Mather philosophies that have clearly destroyed your free agency appeal to stars in the league.
On Thursday, during his weekly radio show, Dipoto gave an 80% apology for his comments and tried to make us believe he was joking about the favor. At the end of the day, Dipoto failed the 2022 offseason, he failed the trade deadline, and he General Custard’d his end of season presser. I appreciate him trying to apologize, but it really doesn’t mean anything. What matters is what he does now.
The franchise publicly stated the goal was to win the World Series this year, and they screwed around and found out the hard way. This pins Dipoto in a difficult corner, and brings Stanton into the public eye more than ever. Dipoto will begin this offseason on the hotseat, and Stanton will be ridiculed until the franchise locks up a big fish free agent. Dipoto and Stanton will need to buck a philosophy that has carried this franchise to the highest level of mid possible over the last 8 years.
Can they finally break the bank and bring home a superstar franchise bat like Shohei Ohtani or Cody Bellinger? Can they be more aggressive in trades and free agency to bring in truly reliable role players rather than Tommy La Stella and AJ Pollock? Are they willing to dip deep into their farm system and trade for a franchise bat? Can they get this team not just back into the postseason, but win the AL West, and make a deep run into October? Even if Seattle signs Ohtani, there are still numerous holes and questions that need to be answered to feel like this team is a true championship contender.
These are tall tasks for a leadership group that appears to be losing faith from not just the fans and the media, but the players as well. The rebuild is over, it is time to put up or shut up. The city of Seattle deserves to see a World Series played in the Pacific Northwest, and a championship brought to the city. There’s no time to screw around, go get better.