Wassell’s Thoughts: With Seahawks return, it’s on Josh Gordon this time
Welcome to another edition of Tom Wassell’s Thoughts, a regular column from the co-host of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Tom, Jake and Stacy. This week, Tom looks at the Seahawks reportedly bringing back suspended wide receiver Josh Gordon and the state of the Mariners’ rebuild after a busy MLB trade deadline.
It’s on Josh this time.
Last year when the Seahawks acquired Josh Gordon, I wrote an open letter pleading with him to stay clean and to lean on the Seahawks’ culture as a means of support. The letter was not particularly well-received by fans. Many of you thought I was being condescending or something. I really wasn’t, it’s just that substance abuse is a sensitive and deeply personal topic for me. I CARE ABOUT PEOPLE WHO STRUGGLE WITH IT.
Turned out that I was correct in assuming he would have difficulty staying off drugs (both recreational and PEDs). He ended up suspended for both, robbing himself of the opportunity to compete in the playoffs. Could they have used him? Well, YEAH. Nobody wants to hear that now from me, but the situation is certainly worth addressing once again now that he’s back with the team – though yet to be reinstated.
It’s worth pointing out that I fully support the Seahawks in adding him to the team once again. Drugs are a personal problem. Unless other teammates decide to go down that road with him, the issue is not likely to affect the locker room one way or the other. So, it’s on Josh this time. I can’t imagine that if he’s busted again he’ll get still another chance from the NFL, but we’ve come this far so I guess nothing would surprise me.
I think the biggest reason that I support him in a general sense is that I just plain feel bad for him. He’s one of the most obvious examples of self-sabotage we’ve ever seen in sports. All the talent in the world with one weakness that just won’t permit him to go forward. That’s an unbelievable shame. I’m sure he already carries a ton of regret with him, but he probably won’t realize until he’s older (he’s still only 29) the full scope of what he missed out on. Or maybe he’ll turn everything around, commit to staying sober and continue with no regrets at all, living his best life when all’s said and done. I hope it turns out well, whatever path he chooses.
Do they need him this time around? Yes. There’s a bunch of talented pass catchers on this team already (DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Greg Olsen, Will Dissly, Jacob Hollister), but as I look at those names, there’s probably room for one more big-timer. The beauty of having a guy like Gordon is there’s no compulsion (hopefully) to force him the ball in the same way there would be with a guy like Antonio Brown. Use him like you did last year. Critical third-down situations, moving the chains, or just have him out there as a decoy, drawing away coverage. It’s a win-win-win all the way around. Go get ‘em, Josh!
Is the rebuild part over?
I’m certain that Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto isn’t through tinkering with his team. He never will be. At the moment I view that as a strength but hope that it won’t get out of control. An example of this might be if he trades Marco Gonzales. He’s an ace for now and probably a No. 2 or 3 in the rotation once this team is ready to compete. Eventually, a GM has to commit to SOMEONE. You can’t just keep on flipping and flipping endlessly.
The Mariners have a good nucleus of talent on the field right now, and the rotation and bullpen are both slowly coming together. How many pieces away are they from competing? Maybe another starter? A closer? We saw just this past week that Jerry was willing to part with Austin Nola and Dan Altavilla in exchange for prized Padres prospects, so the farm system is still a priority. That’s encouraging. Maybe one more position player is on the way? Those guys will come in time.
The most important part of the process right now is for everyone to do their job and develop. If the target date for playoff contention is 2022, the young players have a year and change to become the players that they hope to be. That’s a healthy amount of time given how the Mariners have performed this season. I’ll say that there have been far more positives than negatives in 2020. Yeah, the bullpen is a mess, but these guys can hit, play sound defense, run the bases, and even pitch in the rotation. Anyone unhappy with Sheffield and Dunn? I’m not.
Who knows what their record will be at the end of September, but even if the kids on this team slump their way to the finish line, that’ll add extra motivation to come out next year on fire. At this point, they really can’t go wrong.