Sob story

I try not to get too worked up about sports. At the end of the day, stripped of all the money and glamour and marketing, it’s all just a game. Games are, in the words of one guy, supposed to be fun. Tom Boswell once said there was something missing in the six months outside the baseball season, and I think he’s right — the repetition, the regularity, the consistancy.. ah, you either know what I mean, or you don’t. I’m not going to go all George Will here.

“Fun” was the key. It was fun to go to games. We went to a pair of games last spring in Seattle and watched the Mariners get thumped both times by the Tigers. (I boldly predicted to K. that the Tigers were probably going to win the World Series, based on Chris Shelton and some crazy-assed pitching, and for the first time in my life predicting sports I was only half wrong.) It was fraking cold, the beer was expensive, the tickets were insanely expensive, and they’d hiked the price on the garlic fries since the last time I’d been there, but it was still fun. I didn’t mind. I was twelve feet away from Ichiro taking practice swings in the on-deck circle. What’s not to like? K., a non-baseball fan, had fun. We were talking about going to Opening Day 2007.

Things are different now. They started to change when the Mariners traded Rafael Soriano to Atlanta for Horacio Ramirez. This wasn’t an inexcusable deal, just a stupid one — Ramirez is a back-of-the-rotation guy, not someone who’s going to change the outcome of your season. You need to have guys like him in your rotation, but you don’t trade good bullpen guys for him (and then complain you have holes in your bullpen). Soriano has a bit of an injury problem and took a hellacious line drive off his head on 29 August this year, though he has been pitching well in winter ball. So I can understand why holding on to the flame-throwing kid may not necessarily have been the Mariners’ highest priority.

Then this happened.

This is inexcusable. We’ll set my man-crush on Chris Snelling aside and ignore Fruto, though I do love Chris and Emiliano Fruto has an awesome name. The Mariners got older and more expensive and worse. That’s never the right side of a trade to be on. Jose Vidro solves exactly 0 problems for the Mariners. The Mariners had many issues going into this off-season, none of which cried out for an aging, out-of-shape 2B from the National League, and certainly not at $16M over two years with an option for 2009. About the only nice thing I can say about this trade is that Jim Bowden isn’t the dumbest GM in baseball anymore.

I heard this and wanted to cry. It was the first time in years that baseball has moved me to such an emotion. Being a Mariners fan the past few years has been an exercise in futility — you know the team is never going to return to the giddy heights of 2001, and deep down you know they’re going to find some horrible way to screw it up. But there’s always been hope — that next year, they might figure it out, put it together, and win. Snelling was part of that hope. Fruto was part of that hope. At least, if they were going to suck, they weren’t going to suck and cost the team a lot of money.

Now, though, I’m left with this empty, hollow feeling. I don’t honestly believe this move makes the team better. There’s no way this trade makes any kind of sense for the Mariners. My team has committed to a player with declining skills who costs way too much money for far too much time at the expense of a pair of cheap players that could be effective — all in the name of solving a problem that isn’t that hard to fix in the first place (namely, finding a DH). I know Bill Bavasi’s job is in danger if he doesn’t Win Now!, but this is the kind of thing that (a) ensures you don’t Win Now!, and (b) ensures you don’t win Next Season, or the One After That Either.

I guess all I’m saying is that if my bloated body washes up in the Inner Harbor (or, given the way the wind is blowing now, somewhere around Port Angeles) with a note that says “Take that, Howard Lincoln!” stapled to it.. it’s a guy thing.