An open letter to Don Wakamatsu, from a gray-haired, prune-munching, gout-having M’s fan, still waiting on his meatloaf:
So you’re the new guy, huh? Just came aboard a couple days ago, didn’t you? Mr. Don Waka-something, the new Mariners manager, the replacement for ol’ leather-face Jim Riggleman, right?
Yeah, that’s what I thought. I remember your days of playing ball in Hood River, OR, back before that town was overrun with microbreweries and wind-surfers. You put up some mean numbers, and if I remember correctly, you were once a catcher in the M’s system.
Too bad you couldn’t pull onto the big-league squad, or you coulda contributed to the losingest organization of the 1980s.
Now, those teams knew how to lose. Not like these knew guys, these pampered, light-their-cigars-with-Benjamins types who roll into town, plug softball-sized holes into their bats and gloves, and then pout when they don’t get their playing time. These new guys, the free agents and their ilk, they’re the ones who are the new losers.
But the boys from the '80s, they were something else. They were as inept as an Alaskan voter, and they owned it. They knew they were bad; they understood that Gaylord Perry, in town for all of a year and half, was the best thing that would ever happen to the organization—even though he went 13-22 while he was here.
But I curmudgeonly digress.
These new boys aren’t born losers—they are, as you say, “a young, talented team.” Maybe not 95-win talented, but certainly not a typical member of the 100-loss/$100-million payroll club (then again, as the charter members, there isn’t really anything to compare them to).
These boys—Mr. Ich-i-ro, Mr. Felix the Cat, Mr. Yummy Tennis Court, or whatever his name is—they know how to play. That big Sexson, Paul Bunyan’s unskilled brother, is outta here, and so is Jose Zero, er, Vidro. I don’t know if Raul’s coming back, or if that Bell Tray kid will bring back his fancy glove—with the economy the way it is, good thing he’s got so much gold! [Groan…]—but I do know that the team’s not nearly as terrible as those boys runnin’ General Motors.
I couldn’t find anything on the telegraph line, so I flipped on the inner-net to look up some stats on you. Looks like you know the division pretty well—bench coach for the A’s, third base coach for the Rangers.
Now, I’m no fan of espionage, but if you could tell us everything you know, that’d sure help, and if you remember any of their signs, well, why don’t you just tell your old teams that “you forgot.” Then we could win some ball games!
Also, I checked out that cute picture over on the Seattle Times site. Cute kid, you got. But does that mean she’s the one who inspired the unnamed Mariner to knock out Ichiro last year?
Back in my day, if a random-o had threatened me, I woulda gone up to each and every one of my teammates and fed them a knuckle sammitch, because that’s just how teams ran back then. Then again, I always ended up with a face of pulp, so maybe it wasn’t the best course of action.
Too bad you beat out our old firestarter, Mr. Joey “Before Griffey in ’95, I Had to Scora” Cora. Woulda been nice to see the munchkin kicking dirt on the shoes of the looming umps, trying to make eye contact but only finding the blue’s naval. Heh. Reminds me of my days watching Bob Hope, when he once…Eh? Oh, yeah, Cora. Good guy.
But I trust this Jack Jury’n’Chick, that new General Manager. He may have less hair than me, but his mop musta been constraining his creative powers. In just a couple days, he’s cleared house, bringing in his boys and is starting a stats department. I tell you, I may be old, but I know a successful saber-mattress-in when I see one.
And I hear you’re the first Asian-American to become a manager, eh? Good on ya for that—maybe you can talk some sense into Hiroshi Yamauchi for that crazy-as-Lizzy-Borden contract he gave Ken G. Joe G. Maw, or however you spell his darned name. (You want to know what caused the financial crisis? Contracts like that.)
I was durn sad when Kim Ng wasn’t offered Jack’s position, but it looks like the team’s making up for their backward-thinking. A stat department, the first Asian-American manager...what’s next, a World Series appearance? Well, that might be a stretch, but I’ve got faith in you.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is, welcome aboard. These kids might not know, but we old seabirds understand that a true Mariner can weather even the choppiest of seas—and with you helming from the dugout, we may finally get a chance to break out of this storm.
Now, go win us some ballgames. And try not to let the dugout get bought out by microbreweries and wind-surfers.
(Mabel, where’s my meatloaf?!)