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Take 2

A different spin on sports by The Seattle Times staff and readers.

November 4, 2013 at 3:45 PM

Mariners fan: Why I won’t go to Safeco to watch a mediocre product

By Rich Gallagher

Reader Rich Gallagher, 49, has been a longtime Mariners fan, along with his 24- and 20-year-old sons. The Covington resident, who coaches community-college softball and has been an assistant baseball coach at Kentlake High School for six years, explains in this Take 2 post why he prefers to watch baseball on TV rather than go to Mariners games at Safeco Field.

After another disappointing season, my sons and I had a long discussion about the Mariners and why, year after year, they are mostly irrelevant.

True, the talent is not the best or deepest, but it is adequate to spark interest and even cause trouble in the American League West. But, once again, instability has reared its ugly head in this organization. Honestly, none of us feels any confidence whatsoever that this team will compete for anything in 2014, to the point where we feel Seattle will supplant Houston as the worst team in our division.

The Mariners, quite frankly, are a very, very dysfunctional family. There is no vision for this franchise. Well, no vision other than to make as much money as it can off the spoils of the 1995 season, which while amazing, still left us with no World Series and no sense of satisfaction. Not even a team with 116 wins could satiate us.

We all understand that winning it all is no easy task, but how can an organization that claims to put a competitive team on the field every year be this bad and not even come close?

We have watched good players be poorly groomed for “The Show.” We’ve seen masterful performance after masterful performance by Felix Hernandez end in heartbreak. We are tired of listening to the lies (or forced commentary) of former players espousing what wonderful men CEO Howard Lincoln and team president Chuck Armstrong are. In reality, they are the joke of not only Major League Baseball, but other sports leagues as well.

The Mariners continue to market and sell this team as a valuable commodity, like the Boston Red Sox or New York Yankees, yet this franchise is barely even mediocre. More and more seats at Safeco continue to go empty. It’s insanity. For many home stands, the majority of seats seem to be occupied by the opposing teams’ fans.

How demoralizing must that be for players? Yet how can you expect fans in today’s economic times to pay premium prices for tickets to watch a less-than-mediocre team?

The Mariners have fallen to No. 3 among pro sports in Seattle, behind the NFL’s Seahawks and the MLS’s Sounders. I can’t believe it! Talk of going hard after players such as Jacoby Ellsbury is laughable. What player in his right mind would take any amount of money to play for this franchise?

That’s how bad things are down on Edgar Martinez Way. And it all starts at the top. It is painfully obvious that the Mariner’s will not experience any success until the embarrassments at the top are replaced. We dream of another fan out there like Chris Hanson who could buy the M’s and run it like a successful sports team should be run.

I’ve been a fan for 30 years, and both my sons have been fans for 20-plus years. Sadly, we are just not interested in going to games any more. It’s more enjoyable to stay home and catch a game on TV. What does that tell you?

If you think we are wrong, ask all the empty seats in Safeco.

We love the game. It’s a part of who and what we are. But we the fans do have options. Do we pay big bucks to watch what the Mariners put on the field, or buy a pizza and sit at home watching another intriguing game between two competitive teams?

We have actually had the honor of playing and coaching at Safeco Field for something the M’s never have had – a championship game.

Will they ever win anything? I’m praying for a miracle.

Want to be a reader contributor to The Seattle Times’ Take 2 blog? Email your original, previously unpublished work or proposal to Sports Editor Don Shelton at dshelton@seattletimes.com or sports@seattletimes.com. Not all submissions can be published. The Times reserves the right to edit and publish any submissions online and/or in print.

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