Listening to sports radio this week, it’s deja vu all over again.
“The GM is an idiot and must be fired!” “The head coach is losing control of his team!” “The players are under-achieving!” “The locker room is in turmoil!” “The future is bleak!” “The sky is falling!”
It sounds an awful lot to me like the talk that surrounded the Mariners in their darkest days of 2008, and the miserable years that preceded it. They were locked in a death spiral where, in the public’s view, they could do no right. Even moves that made sense were viewed with suspicion, because fans had lost complete faith in the management.
But now it’s the Seahawks, just five seasons removed from the Super Bowl, that are bearing the brunt of public disenchantment, while the Mariners are being held up as the paragon of sage management.
It just goes to show how quickly you can go from golden boys to whipping boys (and vice versa). And it shows how dangerous a crisis of confidence can be to a franchise. Suddenly, it’s the Seahawks that can do no right, while the Mariners, under Jack Zduriencik, are being given the benefit of the doubt.
In just one year — Zduriencik was hired on Oct. 22, 2008 — Zduriencik has managed, through a series of shrewd moves that helped lead to a winning season and a 24-game improvement, to regain the faith of Mariner fans (for the most part). But that, too, is a tenuous thing as the M’s face an offseason filled with tough decisions and complicated options in team-building. If it blows up, it’s inevitable that Zduriencik, too, will bear the brunt of fan bitterness. Yet at the moment, I sense that Zduriencik has definitely earned a substantial length of rope. Tim Ruskell, on the other hand, is at the end of his.
Yet I always felt, when GM Bill Bavasi was getting lambasted by M’s fans, and I was being inundated with venomous e-mails lamenting the demise of the Mariners, and pointing fingers at the various culprits, that it was actually a positive sign for the M’s. It showed that fans, in all their anger and frustration, still cared.
Obviously, Seahawks fans care deeply. Just turn on the radio and listen to the ranting.
(Seattle Times photos; Seahawk photo by Courtney Blethen; Mariner photo by Mark Harrison)