Which camp are you in? Breaking down 4 ways Mariners fans are dealing with rebuild
What should we call what the Mariners are doing again? A rebuild? A re-imagining? A teardown?
Whatever its name, we all have our own feelings about how the Mariners are handling their future. I prefer the term ‘rebuild,’ and 2020 represents year 2 of it.
The 2019 season was mostly an ugly affair, beginning with a 13-2 stretch that got a lot of hopes up, albeit with many players who we knew wouldn’t be around for very long. As the season progressed, names like Bruce and Encarnación vanished from the box score and were replaced with names like Crawford and Lewis.
I sent out a Twitter poll the other day asking all of you which camp you’d put yourselves in with respect to this rebuild. I wasn’t terribly surprised by the results, but while we’re doing the exercise, let’s take a look at why fans chose to vote for the categories they did.
Which category do you fall into as a Mariner fan?
— Tom Wassell (@tomwassell) January 26, 2020
You were sick of patch-working it from season to season. Adding players like Kendrys Morales, Wade Miley and Jean Segura wasn’t going to help matters anymore. You looked up in the standings and saw the homegrown Houston Astros dominating the AL West year after year (before you knew about this sign-stealing business). You said “I want to be like them.”
In order to replicate what Houston and others have accomplished, it was necessary to take a huge step back. Maybe a few huge steps back. Trade away superstars, even young ones, for prospects that we wouldn’t see for at least a few years. Accept the fact that watching the Mariners in 2019, 2020 and maybe even 2021 would take a lot of patience, but as those players develop, the organization’s fortunes would turn around.
This option has a huge payoff because we’re likely to build connections with players before they become stars – or at least pieces – of a competitive team. Baseball more than any other sport allows fans to bond with their hometown guys because we see so much of them over 162 games. We see their faces, their mannerisms at the plate, in the dugout, on the base paths and in the field. By the time they hit their prime, we feel like they’re our friends and we’ve been on the ride with them the entire way. This provides a shared experience of growth into success, and who wouldn’t want to know what that feels like after 19 years of playoff-less baseball in Seattle.
Count me among you in this group. I’m psyched!
In, but expects results now
This is the most hardcore group of the four. If you’re in here, you don’t put much stock into things like logic, reason, common sense or patience. Your agreement with the team is: “Do whatever you want, but in exchange for my fandom, you’d better produce quickly.”
Since 2020 is year 2 of the rebuild and 2019 was a disaster, you’re done listening to the litany of explanations as to how long it takes baseball players to develop. You think if a guy’s got talent, why isn’t he showing it right now?
“We paid Evan White how much money? Why is he hitting .210 in June?”
The Mariners have to appreciate that you’ve chosen not to abandon them but probably won’t be able to give you satisfactory answers as to why the team isn’t winning at a faster pace. There’s a subgroup of folks in here who may even delude themselves into thinking that young players are developing faster than they actually are, even if that’s not the case (think the Mike Zunino defenders a few years ago).
I guess this group of fans will do whatever they have to do to keep on watching a team that’s not going to win for awhile and that’s perfectly understandable.
Out until they win
On some level, you agree with Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto’s ideas. You realize that the only way this team is going to get good and stay good is to tear it down and build it back up. You may have even felt better about it when you heard from other fans last season that Kyle Lewis tore up the month of September – and you weren’t watching. But knowing that it’s going to take at least another year before they contend for a playoff spot, you can’t invest your time in watching them every night, or even most nights. Perhaps you’ve got kids that are involved in activities at night. Maybe you’ve taken up Orange Theory classes.
Whatever interests you have and however you choose to spend your time, there just isn’t room for Mariners baseball if they’re going to turn in a sub-par product. But like most sports fans, when the local team begins to create a buzz in town, you’re curious enough to turn on the radio or TV and find out what all the hubbub is about. You may even go so far as to choose a jersey of your favorite new player, but all of this is off in the distance and for now the only sports updates you need are those concerning the Seahawks, Huskies, Cougars and Sounders.
Baseball will have to wait, but good luck to everyone else with it in the meantime.
Completely given up
Again, there are a few different types within this category.
There are people who have truly abandoned the team and maybe baseball in general. They’re just done. The team is bad, the game is boring and over the last 19 years, football has taken up every bit of their available sports fandom. It’s over.
There’s another group that likes to tell you (loudly) that they’ve given up, and maybe they have, but once the winning begins, won’t be able to resist the temptation of climbing back aboard the bandwagon. I mean, how are they going to feel when Game 1 of the ALDS is held at T-Mobile Park and they’re not at least watching on TV? It’s just not worth the stress of avoiding good baseball and so they’re back in despite having told everyone they know that the Seattle Mariners will never win, especially while Jerry Dipoto is around. It’s OK, though. Swallowing your pride is a lot easier than you think, and once that ballpark is filled with 45,000 screaming fans, nobody is going to remember what you said about the team a year ago.
No matter which group you identify with, when that day comes, when we can finally put 1995 behind us and create our own legacy, we’ll all be in ONE group: Happy Seattle Mariners baseball fans.
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