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Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

August 9, 2012 at 8:33 AM

You think Mariners have it rough? Cleveland Indians now having their “Believe Big” moment

ADDITIONAL NOTE: Join me tonight at 7 p.m. PT as I host another hour-long call-in show on Sports Radio KJR dealing with all things Mariners. Promises to be a lively one.
Remember a couple of years back when the Mariners told everybody to “Believe Big” in the coming 2010 season? Well, it was a nice idea, assuming the team was actually planning to contend. Instead, it lost 101 games after cutting payroll and not rounding out the offense with quality bats that could have prevented an historically low run total of 513.
Anyhow, the “Believe Big” thing set the team up for even more misery than it needed that season, given the inevitable jokes to come. They aren’t alone, nor were they the first to mess up with good intentions. Marketing people don’t play the games. The failures of players to live up to the hype has to be on the players and those assembling the teams.
When I covered the Blue Jays in 2004, their powers that be had convinced themselves that a fluke 86-win season in 2003 — in which they were a sub-.500 team with a month to go before beating up on terrible Detroit and Cleveland squads through much of September — was actually real. Launched a marketing campaign for 2004 that stated “You’ve Gotta See These Guys Play”.
Much misery ensued when, having declined to go out and upgrade the offense despite their hitting coach practically begging them to in off-season meetings, the Blue Jays went out and lost 94 games and started firing every coach in sight.
Which brings us to the 2012 Cleveland Indians, who, a decade into their rebuilding plan — or the latest incarnation of it — convinced themselves (much like the Kansas City Royals) that they could win a “weak” AL Central despite the presence of the Detroit Tigers and other squads vastly outspending them. They launched a marketing campaign titled “What If?” which featured a promotional video. The video, which should not surprise anybody, featured references to the team’s glory years.
Yeah, it does seem like every MLB team works off the same rebuilding playbook at times, doesn’t it?
Anyhow, now that the Indians have crashed and burned in obvious fashion given their season-long awful run differential (paging the Baltimore Orioles) the knives are out and there’s a scathing parody video out there on the whole “What If?” thing. I’ve included it above.

The point of this blog post? For you to have a laugh at the expense of somebody other than the Mariners for a change.
But also because, it’s tough not to note the similarities between the teams, be it the Mariners, the Indians, or the Blue Jays franchise I used to cover and which will enter Year 12 of its rebuilding plan under current Rogers ownership next season (eight years under GM J.P. Ricciardi and now the fourth under Alex Anthopoulos).
The Indians are also in the next phase of a rebuilding plan that has very little to do with the squad that made one playoff appearance in 2007 under then-Cleveland manager Eric Wedge. And the natives there are getting restless as well, just as they are with current GM Dayton Moore in Kansas City.
Every plan needs a youthful core to succeed, no doubt. And every plan does require a fair degree of patience. But it also requires something else: success.
Can’t have a successful rebuilding plan without that.
And one way for success to remain fleeting is when patience gives way to acceptance and the years keep tumbling over one after another without results. The Mariners are in their fourth year of rebuilding under GM Jack Zduriencik, whose purse strings are controlled by CEO Howard Lincoln and president Chuck Armstrong.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with expecting better results. Nothing wrong with expecting the Mariners to do more in their efforts to speed things along. After all, as fans, you are the ones being asked to be patient. Not like the Mariners are losing any money as the years drift on.
Something to think about. Because it’s true. Plenty of MLB teams do tend to copy one another when they embark on plans of various stripes. And just because the Mariners are trying to rebuild, it doesn’t mean they have to follow the exact blueprint of teams that haven’t figured it out — no matter how smart everybody thought those teams were at various stages of their rebuilding. It doesn’t mean the Mariners will have to wait for this rebuilding plan to hit Stage 2 in three years, where a new GM hits the reset button and tells you the previous seven or eight seasons didn’t count.
It’s OK to expect more. It’s OK to expect Zduriencik, Lincoln and Armstrong to get something done before they go the way of the Indians and Blue Jays.



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