Mariner Mouthoff: Mariners Lose The Josh Hamilton Sweepstakes as Angels Crush Hopes Again
Every year it seems to be the same anticipation, the same nail biting, excruciating wait of the off-season that pressurizes itself into it's final day as fans of Mariners baseball everywhere hope for a signing that will change the course of losing baseball and invite excitement back to the ballpark. Today, that pressure, that angst all came to a head and all of us here in the Northwest were quickly deflated.
Josh Hamilton didn't sign with the Seattle Mariners. Was it too good to be true? Probably. Just like the possibility of landing Prince Fielder last year, we were all crossing our fingers and even heard rumors that Hamilton was even considering Seattle. I don't know where those rumors come from, but for a fan, they mean everything.
Hamilton was wooed by the Angels. Yes, the same team that swooped in and signed Albert Pujols last year. The same team that was expected not to sign anyone in the near future due to their large payroll already. As everything has gone in L.A., budgets have gone out the window. They are paying to win. Hamilton saw the writing on the wall in Texas and chose to be with a team that was willing to pay the price, not only for him, but for a World Series title.
The Mariners did try and woo Hamilton. They understood that any offer Hamilton received would be taken back to the Rangers and Hamilton would give them a chance to match it. If not, Mariners win. Unless you're Arte Moreno. The GM of the LA Angels of Anaheim not only able to woo Hamilton, he was able to get him to sign up and not even look back to Texas. Moreno made Seattle look like a AA club and left the ball in Hamilton's court. Now, Josh Hamilton is an Angel.
Where does this leave the Mariners? Well, as of right now it has us wondering whether or not we should over pay for a Nick Swisher or Michael Bourn. It has us looking at another season where we can hope that the moving in of the fences has enough impact on our young team that it makes us competitive again. The question is, is that enough to put fans in the seat for another year where we are already deemed out of the running for the playoffs?
As Mariners fans, are you going to the games? Are you paying the rising ticket costs to go and watch a team that really has no shot at winning? Are you forking over the big dollars for hot dogs and beer so that you can watch a gang of young players and hope they develop into a powerful force? The answers will probably vary, but the reality is, until the Mariners win, attendance keeps going down. Until the Mariners give the fans something to be excited about, fans will stay home and watch an inning or two here or there on the television.
We can't assume that the Mariners front office doesn't see this. They do. They are well aware that they are failing the fans. They constantly preach the plan that they have to build this club the right way, but what are they going to do to change the tide of this organization. We are bottom feeders. Sad but true. We get the leftovers, we field the had been's and the could be's and until we get the right nucleus of guys in that mix that can make a difference this is exactly where we are going to stay.
As of right now, we can't even buy the right player. There are markets out there right now like the Angels and the Dodgers that don't see money as a figure. They see who they want and they go get them. We can only hope that this will eventually turn around to bite them in the butt, but as of right now, it only puts baseball in a very tough predicament. We have the have's and the have not's. The have's are those teams that are rolling in the dough of gigantic television contracts and the have not's are those, like the Mariners are waiting for their current contracts to expire. Even then, will a team like the Mariners be able to get their share of the pie when that time comes? As it was reported a couple of weeks ago, the M's have the highest decrease in fans over the past 10 years of any team from any sport. That's the worst selling point that you could have when trying to establish a new contract that is based solely on viewers.
Where is the hope?
As a Mariners fan, I can only look to the decreased size of Safeco Field to be the savior. We have to hope that the 81 games per year that we play here will lend us some sort of advantage that will bring this team out of the gutter and put us on the map competitively speaking. The only other saving grace could be that the Houston Astros are joining our division and may help to keep the M's out of the cellar. Then again, I predicted that the A's would be in last place this past year. I was wrong.
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