If I’ve learned anything from the past few months, it’s that there’s a very wide spectrum of feelings about the Mariners and their current plan. And I want to describe it in the simplest terms possible by expanding on an idea previously raised by columnist Vince Grippi at the Spokesman-Review a couple years ago.
From 2002 until the end of the 2018 season, the Mariners have basically been Charlie Brown trying to kick the football from Lucy in the classic Peanuts comic strip. For 17 years, fans hoped beyond hope that poor Charlie would make contact with that ball. But every year, just as Charlie swung his mighty foot, Lucy swiped that ball off the ground, and he fell helplessly to the ground.
Most fans can agree: That era of Mariners baseball wasn’t pretty. We watched this franchise spend a fortune on Charlie Brown’s development as a kicker. It threw millions of dollars at Lucy, hoping she’d finally keep that football on the ground.
In fact, when the current front office was hired, they also initially believed the tandem of Charlie Brown and Lucy could succeed. They spent three full years committed to making it work. In fact, Jerry Dipoto and Scott Servais were even given contract extensions when Charlie Brown seemed to be on the verge of making contact with that football.
But alas, the 2018 season ended with another big thud. So Dipoto opted to do something that’s never been done before in this franchise’s history: He wiped the slate clean. He got rid of Charlie Brown and Lucy completely. And he’s now attempting to build a new successful, sustainable tandem from the ground up.
But like anything, there are no guarantees. And for a fanbase that’s endured so much for so many years, combined with a plan that is expected to take multiple seasons to complete, we’re left with a wide-ranging group emotions. Some fans are all-in and truly excited, saying this approach has been needed for a very long time. Others are completely checked out after so much heartbreak and frustration.
And others, like me, are cautiously optimistic. We’re truly hopeful, yet still gun shy. We have a hard time staying patient through another experiment, even if it’s finally the right one.
I mean, we might have sent Lucy out of town, but grasping the context and reasoning behind paying millions of dollars for her to play for another team isn’t exactly easy.
“In the effort to acquire more young players and to create flexibility in our roster, we’re also paying about $40 million for former players to play at other locations.”
So the question becomes, do we believe in this new future? Do we believe these new players that Dipoto has acquired to rebuild the Farm System represent a winning combination?
They have potential, but need to be cleaned up and groomed. They have all the confidence and spirit in the world, but need to be trusted in the critical moments.
How willing are we to watch this process play out, knowing that success won’t come in the immediate future?
“We don’t think that we’re likely to threaten for a playoff position this year. We will measure our season based on the development of our young players,” Dipoto said.
So here we stand. What some would call another lost season, others describe as necessary in building a sustainable future. Only time will tell which interpretation is correct.
All I’ve done tonight is try to provide context for why the current reaction to the M’s is so diverse: After all these years of heartbreak, the approach is finally different - the slate is now clean.
Whether this new tandem can eventually find success together is still unclear. It can be exciting. It could ultimately be a blast!
But the scariest part about it all? That still…nothing is guaranteed.