I consistently hope for an era of Mariners baseball where the number of playoff appearances far outweighs the number of times a member of the front office puts his foot in his mouth.
Sadly, the last 20 years has been quite the opposite.
Earlier today, a now-deleted video of M’s president Kevin Mather went viral, of a recent talk he gave to the Bellevue Breakfast Rotary Club. Mather revealed a number of eye-opening facts about strategy, signing players and decision-making, which, in many cases are quite refreshing given his transparency. But not only did he likely alienate a number of players in the process, he also said a number of things that are now being placed under the microscope.
On Hisashi Iwakuma, who they hired in the hopes of him becoming a organization scout in Asia, Mather said, "I’m tired of paying his interpreter, because when he was a player, we pay Iwakuma X, but we also had to pay $75,000 a year to have an interpreter with him. His English suddenly got better. His English got better when we told him that."
Joking or not, you have a team president griping over 75 grand and questioning Kuma’s effort – when the franchise is worth $1.6 billion and was granted $135 million in taxpayer money two years ago for a capital improvements project that originally had a $500 toaster oven in its budget breakdown.
And at worst, check social media: The comment is certainly being interpreted by many as racist or xenophobic.
On the same note, here’s Mather, talking about talented prospect Julio Rodriguez: "He’s got a personality bigger than all of you combined. He is loud, his English is not tremendous…He’s a year behind (Jarred) Kelenic, he probably…won’t be here till 2022 or 2023."
Presumably in response to those comments, Rodriguez tweeted "Motivation" and a doctored photo, putting himself in Michael Jordan’s seat, saying, quote "And I took that personally."
Mather likely offended the team’s second-best prospect – and one who has been taking English lessons for at least the last three years. Whatever Mather’s intention, I have a hard time seeing any upside to the verbal jab.
And stating the team’s timeline for Rodriguez piggybacked off his earlier statement that there was no way they would have promoted any of their high-end prospects last season to the 40-man roster because they didn’t want to start their service time clock. Correct me if I’m wrong, but discussing the manipulation of service time, especially about your top prospect, isn’t very smart. Especially when Mather also revealed that Kelenic turned down a contract extension, which might be a reason why they weren’t going to start the clock on him last year.
Then, there was Mather’s praise for Kyle Seager, who will be an M’s Hall of Famer one day, but that he is "probably overpaid" and "this is probably his last season as a Mariner."
To which Kyle’s wife, Julie, tweeted "So should we put our house in Seattle on the market now, orrrrrr?"
What a total mess. If you go through the full transcript, you’ll also find Mather ripping the minor league facilities in Everett and the Major League players association for refusing to delay Spring Training. He also publicly discusses negotiations with James Paxton and mispronounces the name of their new catcher, Luis Torrens.
Oh, and he also admits that he forces employees to park on the other side of Lumen Field, so they can collect $30-50 for fans parking in their lot across the street on gamedays.
All I know is that this organization is less than three years removed from news of the club making about $500,000 in settlements to two former female executive assistants, and Mather apologizing for any misconduct as one of those accused. Add the number of current players he likely alienated by speaking so openly about this franchise, and there’s a somewhat disturbing pattern.
Sometimes the transparency we crave comes in a dastardly form.
And in this case, it doesn’t shine well on a management group that’s seen its share of controversies before.