Friday, November 05, 2004

Understanding Pocket Lint...

Hello, and welcome to Mariners Morsels! I've created this blog to be a temporary home for my thoughts. Only time will tell how long this thing stays afloat...

My first topic for discussion will be my e-mail discussion with Seattle Times sports reporter Bob Finnigan. I finally decided to spend the time, and try out Blogger, to fulfill my promise to my Seattle PI M's blogmates. I apologize in advance for the length, but you have to have the whole conversation to hear my thoughts.

So without further adieu...


A conversation with Bob Finnigan




In response to Bob Finnigan's Seattle Times article from 10/30/04 "M's caught in a numbers crunch" I was one of the many people who sent him an e-mail on this very article. I wanted to tactfully and respectfully find out why there was a discrepancy between what the M's were feeding to the public about their payroll, and what the folks in the M's blogosphere are saying about their payroll. Here's my first letter:

---------------------------------

From: Paul
Sent: Sat 10/30/2004 7:19 PM
To: Bob Finnigan
Subject: "M's caught in a numbers crunch."


Mr. Finnigan:


I faithfully read both the Times and the PI sports sections'colmnists, as well as other stories from other newspapers. In addition, I peruse and comment in the M's blogosphere. I may not have as much inside information as you have access to, but I'm aware enough that the information you're providing in your article appears to me to be completely inaccurate and misleading. It really appears that you are trying to continue to lower fans' expectations for this offseason and what the M's will do, by implying that the M's really don't have a whole lot of money to spend upgrading their team, both now and for the long run. As you may be aware, the USS Mariner has called you out on this specific article. See
http://ussmariner.com/index.php?p=2007
if you haven't already.

I'd also like to point out Jeff Sullivan's entry on the "Leone for Third" blog, and how the information seems to point out that the M's should have the financial resources to commit over $100 million to payroll.
http://leoneforthird.blogspot.com/2004_10_17_leoneforthird_archive.html#109846501599443540

I'm really inclined to believe this information, and would like to understand the situation a whole lot better.

Realizing that you do this for a living, I'm begging you to respond -- but not necessarily to me, rather to both Mr. Sullivan and the folks at the USS Mariner. Commenting is and has been allowed for quite some time, and I'm asking you to explain the apparent discrepency in what your article mentions as being the $$ available, and what others in the M's blogosphere are saying. There's obviously a discrepancy, and I'm curious as to your thoughts as to the discrepancy.

Thanks!
---------------------

I was surprised to receive a reply the next day. He was fairly courteous to me, but showed obvious signs of receiving lots of negative feedback:

---------------------

From: Bob Finnigan [mailto:bfinnigan@seattletimes.com]
Sent: Sunday, October 31, 2004 10:57 AM
To: Paul
Subject: RE: "M's caught in a numbers crunch."

pm, thnx for writing. my report was bsed on what lincoln has said, what i know of ms methods and approaches and what ive been told privately. what was reported was what i know of the ms situation and my best estimate of what they will try to do. i just had one clown try to tell me moyer does not make 8 mill next year. he does. period. ms will try to get meche at 3 mill, wilson 2.5, villone 2, cabrera 1, olivo .75, plus kids for total of 12 mill or so. people can find all the fault with my math, etc. but those are the way i see it. period. bob f

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According to the M's web site forum, as well as other blogs (PI and USS Mariner), people were not receiving kind responses from Mr. Finnigan. Considering he called someone a "clown" in his reply to me, it seems that he was on the defensive. Even though he'd given a little bit of his take on the whole situation, and how he came up with his information, he didn't directly answer my question. So I sent him a follow-up (and threw the last line in, to try and soften his mood a bit):

---------------------

From: Paul
Sent: Sun 10/31/2004 9:15 PM
To: Bob Finnigan
Subject: RE: "M's caught in a numbers crunch."

Thanks for your response, it was rather unexpected. Ultimately, though, my question is more along the lines as to why the M's can't (or won't) go over the $100 million mark in payroll. Not that they should just go out and spend for spending's sake, but there are some guys out there that can fill some serious holes for the long-term (yet would have an immediate impact next season). To get these guys, though, they'll have to go over $100 million in payroll. Everything I hear from the M's and from you says that they can't and won't. But the information I read elsewhere says they can and they should. I'm curious as to your take, specifically, on that discrepancy.

I certainly don't dispute that Meche, Wilson, Villone, Cabrera, Olivo and the youth could take $10-12 million out of the "available" pot (though it's definitely arguable whether Wilson, Villone and Cabrera should be re-signed). I do dispute that the M's only have $15 million (beyond these
signings) for this offseason's shopping list. I realize it may be a strategic move from the M's brass not to tip their hand to the players' agents that they're targeting, but still it just seems like the same old BS that they've been spoon-feeding the fans for the past several years, and that they're trying to lower expectations purposely and maliciously.

If the M's are going to remain a healthy franchise, Howard and Chuck, et al, are really going to have to pull what Anaheim did before 2004. It's entirely possible for the M's to be back in contention next season without hurting the franchise in the long run. Indeed, it will take some risks, but at least they'd SHOW that they're finally taking action on their empty words and unfulfilled promises. Signing several $2-6 million guys along the lines of Spiezio, Cabrera, Villone, Vizquel, Koskie, Randa, etc., would be hugely demotivating to a lot of fans. They need to make a couple of HUGE splashes like Anaheim did before 2004, to show their fans and their current players that they're serious. They need to stop talking about it, and do it!!!

This is one fan extremely tired of hearing anything out of Howard's mouth. I want to see that he's serious! I know that money is not an issue. Heck, if it means that I'd have to pay 7.50 instead of 7 bucks for a stinkin' Budweiser at Safeco, then I'd buy a couple extra...

Thanks!

---------------------


Again, my goal was to be respectful and tactful in expressing my anger. I tried to show Mr. Finnigan that I wasn't directing my anger at him, but rather chose to direct my frustration by asking his opinion of why the discrepancy exists. Again he wrote me back the next day, and really helped clarify things:

---------------------

From: Bob Finnigan [mailto:bfinnigan@seattletimes.com]
Sent: Monday, November 01, 2004 6:33 AM
To: Paul
Subject: RE: "M's caught in a numbers crunch."

pm, i cant see any place you are wrong, except in even wishing lincoln to be pragmatic. this man is all business and tough enough in that sense to take the heat. we both know they could spend 20-25 mill and probably be close to break even. it is ms right to spend according to lincolns biz model and that means you should expect the likes of sexson, nw kid coiming off injury, and koskie, who fits their price much better than beltre or glaus. pitching? i cant see lowe now, nor pavano nor milton nor radke. poss wright, at best. then maybe a miracle will happen, and lowe will pine to come back to his birth org. but dont hold your breath. i can only report what i hear is on ms wish list, not what i wish for them. bob f

---------------------

I politely thanked him for our conversation, and showed him my interpretation on his role in all of this:

---------------------

Thanks, Bob!

This actually clears up some of my confusion. It appears to me, then, that you're writing from the perspective of a reporter moreso than as an editorialist. Therefore, your license for interpretation is a little more limited, and your flexibility is thus constrained as well. I can certainly appreciate that, and forgive you for being associated thusly with this situation.

It would be nice, though, for once, for Lincoln to pull his head out and get a clue. He's going to lose this fanbase very quickly otherwise. I hope he really surprises us soon!

---------------------


I haven't received anything further from Mr. Finnigan, nor do I expect to.

Hopefully, my e-mail conversation will clear up some misconceptions. Those of you that "know" me through the blogosphere hopefully have figured out that I generally try to give people the benefit of the doubt. If someone's being treated unjustly, I'm usually not shy to call people on it. I honestly don't think Finnigan is a bad guy. I also do not believe he's the enemy. He's the messenger, if you will, of that enemy -- Howard "F." Lincoln. That's who the fan outrage should be targeted at. Finnigan should only be targeted when the info he's reporting seems inaccurate. But, tactfully, of course. I suggest questioning him on his errant facts, but not arrogantly. In this case, as Mr. Finnigan himself writes -- "what was reported was what i know of the ms situation and my best estimate of what
they will try to do." Indeed, if there's anyone that can 'estimate' what the M's will try to do, and has the info to predict it accurately, it's Mr. Finnigan. However, in his role as a reporter, he does not have the liberty to criticize those decisions. That job is saved for Art Thiel (PI) and Steve Kelley
& Larry Stone (Times). Of these, I'm hoping that Art Thiel steps up to the plate. I'd guess that he has the most clout of any of this area's columnists.


As Linda Richman would say "Discuss amongst yourselves" (but please don't get verklempt):


2 Comments:

At 11/05/2004 2:09 PM, Blogger missions and mariners said...

Very interesting! My hopes for the Mariners to sign either Beltran or Beltre (I'd be happy with either) just went up in smoke. It sounds like mean old uncle Howie won't pony up the dollars to keep fan interest up, which will probably result in the Mariners drawing closer to 2 million next year than 3 million. What I don't understand is, with Lincoln being such a businessman, doesn't he understand that everything starts with top-line sales? I work in the restaurant business, and everything...I mean EVERYTHING...starts with SALES!!

 
At 11/05/2004 2:56 PM, Blogger PositivePaul said...

You have to wonder how shrewd a businessman Lincoln actually is. In my book, this offseason is his last chance to save this franchise from collapse. Anyone outside the M's pretty much says that they'd be absolutely stupid from a business sense to not break out of their fiscal conservatism, and show the fans that they can practice what they preach.

I'm less optimistic that something will actually happen, but that's because Howard's cried wolf WAAAY too often. He better have a wolf this time...

 

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