As someone who proudly wore a Seattle Mariner starter jacket and cap to the 1985 World Series, I think it’s safe to say I have some credibility when it comes to Mariner history.
Which is why I do not make this comment lightly about the M’s thwarting of the proposed Seattle basketball arena: Incredible.
No, it’s not because the Mariners are hypocrites who have no problem sucking from the public teat while simultaneously blocking their brothers from doing the same. And, no, it’s not because they continue to say that their interference has everything to do with traffic concerns and nothing do with keeping a lid on competition for Seattle’s pocketbooks.
No, the reason I say that this whole affair is incredible is because if 1985 me had flown in via time machine to 2012 and heard that the Mariners were the kingpins of the Seattle sports scene … well, 1985 me would have dropped his Mariner painter’s cap and Alvin Davis rookie cards in utter astonishment.
Regardless of your opinion of the nonsense arising from the professional sports teams in this region, you have to be amazed at how times have completely changed in the span of 25 years. Two decades ago, the Mariners played before crowds that resembled a Ringo Starr tour, were routinely booted to odd AM or FM stations whenever the Seahawks happened to be playing at the same time, and were generally thought of as the stepchild of Seattle sports, below (in order) the Seahawks, the Huskies, and the Sonics.
Now? Well, now it’s different. As Geoff Baker pointed out in the Seattle Times today, the Mariners’ decision to stand in the way of the proposed new arena is such a horribly pad PR move that it can only mean the team’s owners are close to selling, and could care less about the long-term ramifications of their decision.
Will their position hurt the team? Honestly, I have to believe that whatever tomatoes get thrown their way will have a minimal impact on the team’s attendance, and whatever money they forfeit from a hypothetical TV network involving the M’s, Sonics, and NHL would be more than made up for by not having to share King County’s disposable income with two other competitors.
Bottom line? The M’s decision is bad PR-wise, but not so bad that it’s going to kill them. After all, every Sonic fan already knows the true moral of this story, and every story regarding pro sports:
It’s a business.