I would have written more lately, but a new excuse reared its (very ugly) head in the form of a delightful norovirus I contracted over the weekend. I haven’t felt like moving, or breathing, let alone writing about or paying attention to baseball. Today I was feeling perky enough to make myself go to work for the first time this week, and that worked out super well until every Mariners fan everywhere found out about the Josh Hamilton to the Angels move, Twitter exploded, and nobody’s been happy since, it would seem.
I was disappointed at the news, but I think I took it a lot better than some of the folks I have seen talking about it online. While Josh Hamilton here seemed like an excellent idea, it was obvious very early on that he was looking for something we might not want or be able to provide. Word was already swirling well before the winter meetings that Hamilton was looking for a lot of money and an extended contract, and it just sounded to me like something the Mariners wouldn’t do. We’ve fallen down that rabbit hole a few times here, and have a very lengthy resume to prove it. The part of my brain that looks at the bigger picture felt that a Josh Hamilton deal seemed a bit like putting a Band-Aid over a sucking chest wound. So I never got too attached to the idea. And the more and more rumors flew around connecting us to him, I have to be honest, the less likely I thought it would be to happen. Would it have been awesome? Sure. But am I sad about it? Not really. One player is not going to save our team. And giving one guy that much money over any other possibilities just seemed like a tremendously bad idea.
I chatted with some people on Twitter about it, very few of which seemed OK with the decision. It’s always about how the Mariners didn’t do enough to procure X or Y player. We didn’t want them bad enough, we are too shortsighted to see how amazing it would be to have X or Y in Seattle. We don’t care about winning, only making money (though seriously, folks – the best way to make money is winning, so this argument really ignores basic economics), the ownership is ruining the team, etc etc. I get it. Everyone hates ownership, and a lot of you have very good reason to. You’ve been in this a lot longer than I have. But the same arguments and diatribes come up every year with no thought given, it would seem, to the fact that the Mariners front office and pals are not the only parties involved in these discussions. People want to boil it down to money and contract time, and sure those are big parts of the puzzle. But they’re not the only parts. What if the player doesn’t like the city? What if the player’s agent has been instructed to find him the best deal regardless of where he will be sent to play? What if the player’s family has reservations about a major move or lifestyle change? What if someone says something during negotiations that rub the player, his agent, or the bargaining team the wrong way? What if there is information that the rest of us out here in the Real World are not privvy to, information that might severely change our minds about having the player if we knew it? Or not? I hear people talk about baseball trades and free agents as if the players are pieces of furniture that can simply be put out on a showroom floor and either sold outright or bid upon in an easy contest until the team that tosses out the biggest number wins. And of course that does happen; some guys are just in it for the money or the security of a long contract. But they’re also human beings with the capacity for rationality and critical thinking, and we don’t really know what goes on behind closed doors. The thought that the Mariners should have simply thrown more cash at Hamilton is ludicrous; we have no way of knowing that they didn’t (as things stand), and we have no way of knowing if Hamilton even wanted to be here. Someone pointed out to me via Twitter that one of his charities is located in Washington. My favorite beer is made in Pennsylvania, but I’m not moving there, either.
Jack Zduriencik and company knew that they would have to be really careful with what moves they made this year. They know that we are still upset over Chone Figgins, still disappointed over the Cliff Lee thing not working out. I guess it just seems funny to me that only a short while ago so many people were praising Z for his wise use of the smaller-name players, his sense of value in very un-Hamilton-like types of players. Was it having Ichiro’s salary freed up that made us forget? Our hurry to get to the playoffs after years of thinking we might make it? The rumors about big names being heard around the team before the winter meetings ever started? It seems like a lot of us have lately forgotten the mission, and phrases like “rebuilding year” being used in the press for the past few probably didn’t help. And if we’re looking at things super realistically, is giving Hamilton a bunch of money and years really going to be the thing that takes a .463 team to the World Series in one year? Two? I still think Zduriencik is smarter than that.
So all day I’ve been thinking about this, and have wondered if I’ve lost my mind. Should I be more concerned about this? Should I feel that the Mariners are not interested in winning or playing baseball because it doesn’t appear that they are doing much, while the free agent market slowly melts away? I poked around the internet for a bit of guidance as I am wont to do, and this was the first place I went. If you haven’t read it, I would urge you to, especially if you’re in the group that really wanted Hamilton at any cost. It’s not a vindication of the way I have been looking at this situation, but it does provide a bit more of a level head over an issue that needs a little more stability. I know it gets emotional in here – if baseball wasn’t emotional, then what would be the point? – but make some tea, put on some slippers and read Jeff’s post. Pet a cat. Give the dog a treat. Maybe have some pie. It will be OK, I promise. And if that doesn’t do it for you, please go to USS Mariner and read Dave’s series of “Combatting Emotion with Facts” posts, especially the last bit of this one. I would reiterate what I was thinking earlier before I even found those, but he lays it out pretty well so I’m not going to.
Look…I’m not trying to poke any fun at anyone for being upset. I know I have done my fair share of badgering and swearing at the Ms, and they have deserved it. I’m just saying it’s not the end of the world, and the offseason ain’t over yet. We still have time. Let’s see what happens over the next few months before we start condemning everyone.