As a food lover, I’ve spent a lot of time waiting to be seated in restaurants.
Whether it’s a matter of a place’s popularity or just bad timing, it always creates an interesting dilemma — do you leave now and find another restaurant? Or do you stay and wait it out? It only gets worse the longer you delay a decision.
Then you sit down and you’re so hungry. You rush to make a decision and don’t take time to properly review the menu. You end up ordering something you don’t really want. Patience is always the key, even in such a time of great stress and anxiety.
I think that well encapsulates the experience during my first two years of being an observer of the professional teams here in the Puget Sound area. A lot of waiting, a lot of second-guessing and a lot of wondering if management is making the right decisions.
I’m a Mets fan from New Jersey, so I’ve put up with a lot of nonsense from my favorite baseball team (for further reading on this subject, read Bob Klapisch and John Harper’s 1993 classic “The Worst Team Money Could Buy”). I have also watched my beloved New York football Giants go off the rails in the past two years — they are clinging to an aging Eli Manning while dealing his star receiver and banking on unproven players and draft picks to reinvigorate a franchise destined to be in third place in the NFC East for the foreseeable future.
So as you can see, Seattle sports fans, I sympathize.
The Mariners are a bad baseball team right now. Their pitching staff is thin, their defense is awful and their hitting alternatively resembles a professional 4th of July fireworks display and, well, an amateur 4th of July fireworks display.
And, look, we knew their 89-73 record last year was fiction, bolstered by an incredible infield defense, an unrepeatable performance in one-run games and the best eight games Wade La-Blanc has ever pitched in his life. It was a false flag that could have delayed a badly needed rebuild by another few years.
There is far more intrigue surrounding the job performance of general manager Jerry DiPoto and the dizzying number of moves he has made since taking over in 2015, the most recent of which seems to capture the frustration of the rebuilding process itself.
Last weekend, DiPoto dealt the American League’s leading home-run hitter to the Yankees for a prospect they’ve already traded once — Juan Then.
The most interesting thing about Then is his name (is there a pitcher out there named “Now” so we can at least have a Wheel of Fortune category in the starting rotation?). He’s a skinny 19-year-old right-hander who has had a couple of decent seasons in the low minors but is essentially all projection at this point, as are most teenage pitchers.
We know DiPoto loves to wheel and deal, and he does so with the ferocity and vigor of a toddler bouncing through the proverbial candy store.
But he routinely trades for older players with little market value and bad contracts with the intention of just trading them elsewhere, often for disappointing returns. Encarnacion and Jay Bruce have been dealt this year for prospects who are far from slam dunks (I suppose the moves at least make good fodder for talk radio and television).
The moves may not have an overall effect on the rebuilding effort, but it does engender some ill will between the front office and a fanbase that is already fed up with a 17-year postseason drought.
Perhaps DiPoto has the opposite of the old restaurant predicament. With too much time to think and too many options, he ordered the whole menu and now is stuck with a ridiculous bill, a bloated stomach and a doggie bag full of leftovers.
Unfortunately, there really isn’t another option other than to be patient. A teardown of the teardown would be counterproductive and the tried-and-true strategy of signing a boatload of free agents usually ends in yet another tear down (see: Marlins, Miami 2012) or feelings of bitterness and dismay (see: pretty much any year the Yankees don’t win the World Series).
And, hey, when you’ve got the longest postseason drought in the four major sports, what’s another few years, right?
Mark Krulish covers sports for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MKrulishKDN.