Over the last several years, we have experienced a rapid decline in the love of the game of baseball with the younger generation. You can blame the slower nature of the game, the lack of household names in the game today, or the rising popularity of other sports. One thing is indisputable, and that is the plummeting viewership among anyone who wouldn’t know what a tape player is.
However, one main characteristic that can keep fans interested is a simple one. Winning. Not having a dynasty. Not even being dominant year in and year out. Just marginal success. A team that struggles to excite even the most avid fan is sure to encounter failure to entertain a people group who are already on the verge of being disenfranchised completely with the sport. And most people would accuse someone of being a “bandwagoner” if they were only interested in a winning team. And they would be right, in every case besides the Seattle Mariners organization.
Eighteen seasons. 2,916 games. That’s how long it’s been since the Mariners last played a postseason game. One would have to be in their mid-twenties to even remember watching the M’s play in their last postseason game. That is inexcusable for any sports organization, but it is exacerbated by the fact that interest in the game of baseball is down and decreasing every year.
There is, in my opinion, nothing more exhilarating in sports than being in a baseball stadium when fireworks are going off, the concrete and steel around you seems to be shaking, and everyone around you can’t help but scream and throw their hands to the skies in amazement and excitement for something that happens on the field that actually matters. For Mariner’s fans aged 0 to 25, they have never experienced this. Today, we are relegated to having to be “excited” about a questionable off-season trade, a new manager that you’ve probably never heard of, or, if you’re lucky, a new color scheme at your local ballpark. Trying to coax the average fan to keep coming back to see the home team play becomes seemingly more and more ridiculous as the years go by with zero real success on the field. Failed trade after failed trade, ownership that does not appear interested in success, and constant scouting and development catastrophes that blow up in the face of the very individuals of whom the organization asks to invest is sure to alienate a fan base.
Seattle is an incredible sports city, one of the best in the country. What the ownership of the Seattle Mariners organization has done through the years has been disloyal and disrespectful to its people. The Emerald City is longing for a successful baseball club. You see it every year on opening day. With hope in our eyes, we enter through the gates and look down on the most beautiful site in sports, and based on the lies fed to its fans from the organization via social media and advertising, we’re led to believe that this year is different. There’s a new motto, there’s a new manager, a new hitting coach, a sparkly new free agent. Every year the gimmicks change, but the result remains the same – 18 years of staying home to watch every other team in Major League Baseball participate in the playoffs.
So, what is the solution? There are so many things that you can point to that, if addressed, could greatly improve our troubled reputation as a broken organization. But right now, I am only pleading – pleading for real change. We cannot continue on this course of finding ourselves somewhere between god-awful and mediocre while hoping to keep fans coming back for more disappointment and frustration each year. Something must be done before we lose a whole generation of fans. Because who is going to show the kids of tomorrow the love of the game if our organization has stripped the love of the game from its own fans?