Will To Win
One of the frequent criticisms of this organization by fans at large is that they’re not interested in winning, just in making money. In fact, the quantity of comments like that popping up here have increased dramatically over the last few weeks – we seemingly can’t have a thread about anything before someone pops in and says that the team is happy just being competitive and profitable. In this morning’s P-I, Chuck Armstrong responded to a similar question:
“I’d respond that that’s nonsense,” Armstrong said. “Look at the payroll. If you split the big city markets with two teams (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago), Seattle is the 18th-biggest market in the league. The payroll as of the All-Star break was sixth or seventh. That’s commitment of ownership.
“I keep scratching my head — what more could ownership do? If we’d made the right decisions along the way, we’d be right there. If what we were worried about was making a profit, we’d lower payroll, not raise it.”
Guess what – he’s right. The “ownership doesn’t care about winning” line isn’t based on any kind of actual evidence. The Mariners have consistently spent huge amounts of money on their payroll since moving into Safeco Field, and have had the financial edge over the rest of the division for the last decade. If winning was simply based on payroll, the M’s would be running away with the AL West for the 10th year in a row.
Simply because of population density, the Yankees, Red Sox, and Mets will always be in their own little stratosphere of payroll, with the other 27 teams lagging behind. Take them out of the picture for a second – who else has consistently outspent the Mariners in payroll?
Detroit has a $20 million higher payroll this year, but this was their go-for-broke season when they pushed it all in to try and win this year. It didn’t work, and they’ll be cutting payroll this winter.
Then, there’s a big cluster of teams all right around the $120 million payroll mark – the Angels, Dodgers, Cubs, White Sox, and Mariners. That’s the group the M’s find themselves in when it comes to spending – being dead even with the two Chicago and two LA franchises.
I’m not sure what more people want, honestly. The Mariners are supposed to outspend the Dodgers and Cubs now? Why? Quite simply, if you can’t build a winning team for $120 million, you don’t deserve any more money, or even a job. And that’s the conclusion the Mariners finally came to this year – the problem isn’t the lack of money available to sign talent, but instead, the people in charge of deciding who to give it to.
Now, I’m not a Chuck Armstrong/Howard Lincoln fanboy by any means – we have deep philosophical disagreements with them on how things should be run, and it’s clear that a good portion of the blame for how this franchise has been handled falls at their feet. But can we please put to rest this notion that somehow ownership doesn’t want to win? It’s ridiculous and unsupported by any kind of actual fact.
The Mariners want to win – they just don’t know how. Ignorance is not the same thing as apathy.