We talk an awful lot around here about how silly the whole “baseball is dying” argument is, how those who make it are totally ignorant of the economics of the game, the nature of baseball fandom and the like. Today Grant Brisbee has a great post up explaining that in greater detail:
But as a reminder, there is still a lot of chatter outside of the bubble about baseball needing help. Did you know the World Series ratings were low? The lowest they’ve ever been, apparently. I did a roundtable on HuffPost Live about how the World Series can better compete with the Super Bowl. I didn’t realize I was out of my bubble. It was weird out there. Asking why the World Series can’t compete with the Super Bowl is like asking why the World Series can’t compete with Fifty Shades of Grey. The correct answer to the question is “Wait, what?” I forgot that people still thought baseball was in trouble.
I think the best part of it is that framing device: the bubble thing. That we, as baseball fans, live in a bubble. Two bubbles, really. Baseball fans are in a bubble that separates us from the outside world to some extent. A bubble which keeps outsiders from appreciating why baseball is not dying and not really appreciating the basis of baseball’s economic and popular strength. Meanwhile, fans of one team tend to not know what’s going on in the fandom of other teams, at least not in great detail.
It’s a basic fragmentation/specialization/vertical integration thing. A phenomenon that in most markets shows a vibrancy and strength. In sports, however, it’s seen as a weakness for some reason. As if there is something wrong with baseball no longer being a point of great cultural consensus.
Last month, Mariners former director of high performance, Dr. Lorena Martin, was dismissed from the club after the first year of her three-year contract. She made serious allegations of racism and sexism against the Mariners in the days that followed, all of which have been the subject of multiple investigations by the team itself as well as Major League Baseball. On Friday evening, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic published an email that had purportedly been sent to Mariners staff members by CEO John Stanton.
The email itself was printed here in full (subscription required) and basically rehashes everything the Mariners said in an official statement on Monday: That the team continues to deny allegations of racist and sexist behavior by general manager Jerry Dipoto, manager Scott Servais, and farm director Andy McKay because they are “completely inconsistent with who they are and what the Seattle Mariners stand for.”
Stanton added that no one had stepped forward to corroborate Martin’s accusations so far, and also went out of his way to mention that he had never personally observed members of the Mariners personnel “making disparaging, racist or sexist comments” during two trips to the Dominican Republic. The email concluded with an invitation for other staff members to speak up if they had any differing experiences or concerns about the team.
According to multiple reports from the Seattle Times and Tacoma News Tribune, among other outlets, Martin has yet to reveal a number of incriminating emails she claimed to have in her possession, nor has any staff member publicly supported her previous statements on her wrongful termination or the toxic culture within the club. That doesn’t mean, however, that the allegations she made against the Mariners are false, just as Stanton’s claim that he never personally witnessed instances of racism and sexism within the organization doesn’t mean that racist and sexist statements and actions were never made. As Bill pointed out, Martin has likely burned all bridges within the organization and, more significantly, throughout the league as well. It stands to reason that others would feel hesitant to come forward in light of the harsh ramifications that typically await whistleblowers in this kind of situation.
We’ll update this story as it continues to develop.