Our pitch to Antonetti
I’d like to encourage you to interview for the Mariner job, if you’re contacted. It’s a great gig, one of the best in baseball, and here’s why.
First, Seattle. It’s a great place to live. And unlike, say, New York, no one is going to throw rotten vegetables at you if they see you on the street after the team’s lost three in a row. No one even carries rotten vegetables around, that’s how nice people are. You can pick your neighborhood — and we’ll be happy to help you out with that — and you’ll be in walking distance of everything you might want. Our restaurants can go up against any other city in the country’s for quality, and the beer selection — if you haven’t been here, you’ll be shocked. We picket restaurants that don’t have at least two really good beers on tap.
I’ll let you in on a secret: the whole rain thing is something we spread to try and keep people from moving here. It’s a big conspiracy. The winters aren’t good, I’m not going to lie, but the summers are amazingly nice. Right now the sun is out, it’s seventy degrees with a little bit of a breeze, and it’s not too dry and it’s certainly not too muggy.
You get to enjoy perfect baseball days in a great baseball stadium all summer long. This is the place to be.
Second, you have a huge payroll to play with, and a lot of money coming off the books. If you want to go scrap-heap shopping next year, you can buy the scrap heap entirely. You can put out the best NRI package this off-season, pursue all your favorite minor league free agents and injury rehab picks. You can sign a new middle infield. Whatever way you want to go with the major league team, you’ve got the resources and flexibility to do it. You could to patch a winning team together next year, without having to wait out a long rebuilding cycle.
Third, the organization has a lot to support a new GM in rebuilding besides payroll: their international scouting organization is outstanding and has money to spend, the team has deep roots in Latin America and does well recruiting there, and while the amateur scouting side’s future may be uncertain right now, it’s made remarkable strides in the last few years.
Fourth, you don’t have to deal with the kind of media scrutiny you do in larger and east coast markets. We’ve got two papers in Seattle, though maybe not for long, a sports talk radio station that seems to be moving off local content, and that’s about it for media coverage of the team. National columnists pay about 10% as much attention to the Mariners compared to a comparable team on the other coast unless they’re contending.
And the print press here doesn’t include anyone who’ll be trying to sink knives into you from your first day. The beat reporters are high-quality, and the columnists include Art Thiel and Larry Stone. You’ll be able to explain what’s going on without having to worry about seeing twenty column inches misrepresenting you the next day, poisoning your relationship with the fan base.
Speaking of the fans, that’s five — look how many fans turn up now to see the worst team in baseball play another wretched team. They’re mad and disappointed, certainly, but they’re still coming out. The town wants to see the team succeed, and they’ve come out in droves when they’re competitive. The M’s have already avoided the kind of attendance drop the Indians saw, and given some realistic chance at hope — and again, next year’s a huge opportunity — they’ll be back cheering like crazy.
Moreover, there’s a huge contingent of smart fans here who know what you’re about and will be spreading the good word. The two biggest blogs, for instance (that’s us and Lookout Landing), have spent years trying to grow an educated, savvy fan base that can recognize good and bad moves, and debate moves reasonably (except Ichiro… don’t trade Ichiro, or think about trading Ichiro… trust me, all the guarantees are off in that case). You have, for want of a better analogy, a support network in place. If you want to talk about how you went after pitcher X because you thought they’d pitched better than their ERA and W-L record would indicate, people will be interested and listen. The groundwork’s been laid.
Which gets me to six — I don’t know what kind of technology the M’s have at their fingers, but they certainly don’t have the kind of stuff you’re used to in Cleveland. But you can build that, and fast. We’ve got thousands of readers who work at tech firms: when you start cranking that effort up, you will find yourself saturated in resumes from some of the best and brightest people out of an outstanding talent pool. I’ll help if you want. The only better place to try and start a project like this might be the Bay. The M’s are in a great position to be the smartest team about using technology to win in the major leagues within a few years.
Seven: we have Ichiro! You get to see Ichiro! play every day. You may have to just take our word on this: he’s unique and wonderful, and it’s a joy to get to see him at work.
Eight: the turnaround is not so hard. This team is worst in the league. You won’t have to do much in the second season to improve hugely, so you can look more than a year out. In a four-team division, even with the Angels and Athletics, getting a division title is reachable in the first few years. You’re not facing off against the Yankees and Red Sox, or even the Tigers and White Sox — though with the new A’s stadium, we’ll get there. But you only have to get past three teams to win a playoff berth. You can do that.
That’s the pitch: it’s a great city, it’s a great job, you’re set up for success, and we’d love to have you. Come on over.