Mariners change front office structure after Mather

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PEORIA, Ariz. — The Seattle Mariners will change the structure of their front office operations following the resignation of former team president and CEO Kevin Mather.

Mariners chairman John Stanton told reporters at the team’s training facility in Arizona on Wednesday that the club will separate its baseball and business operations. General manager Jerry Dipoto will report to Stanton directly on baseball-related matters, while a new team president will oversee the business side of the operations.

Stanton said the team is in no rush to hire a president.

“As I looked around, I talked to a number of people in baseball, including the commissioner, who said, frankly, if my partners and I are willing to commit to this that it’s a better structure for a lot of reasons,” Stanton said.

Mather resigned on Feb. 22 after video from an online event surfaced where he expressed his views of the club’s organizational strategy and made controversial remarks about players. He took insensitive shots at a former All-Star from Japan and a top prospect from the Dominican Republic for their English skills. He also admitted the team may be manipulating service time for some of its young players.

Stanton said the team is finalizing severance for Mather, who will not hold any stake in ownership of the club moving forward.

“We did damage to the trust in the relationship between our front office and our fans and the community and we need to rebuild that trust,” Stanton said.

While Dipoto has had control over baseball-related decisions, he’ll now have a more direct line to ownership. Dipoto’s contract is up after this season and Stanton said he’s pleased with the moves that have been made during the club’s rebuilding.

Stanton also said the team continues to work with health officials in the hope of having some fans at T-Mobile Park on April 1 when the Mariners open the season hosting San Francisco.

“We right now are hopeful that we will have fans in the building. We are excited about that. And we’re planning for it. We’re training our staff and doing all the things that we need to do to be able to accommodate them,” Stanton said. “Ultimately, it’ll be a decision by the governor and by the state as to whether we can do that. As I say, we’re very hopeful.”

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.