The Seattle Mariners are undergoing some soul searching and in the balance is the loyalty of the team’s fanbase. Monday afternoon Kevin Mather resigned as the team’s CEO 24 hours after his Rotary speech went viral Sunday night. The insensitive, hurtful and racist speech was last February. The impact of Mather’s speech was disbelief, distrust, and betrayal. The organization must overcome and quickly rebuild trust. Unfortunately for the Mariners, we all know lost trust takes time. Here is how the organization found itself in uncharted waters.
ROTARY CLUB SPEECH
Mather was invited to speak at a Bellevue Rotary Club Breakfast function via Zoom. An altruist and benevolent act. Once the speech started Mather simply lost his mind or spoke his mind. Mather spoke about how the team had lost money and was intent on lowballing player salaries. A specific example was how the club would keep top prospects Jarred Kelenic and Logan Gilbert would start in the minors to prolong their Major League debut as a way to manipulate their Major league service time and so they could stay under the club’s control. The penny pinching by Mariners is nothing new to the fan base and the baseball world. The oppression of the promising young players for financial gain over wins raised some eyebrows.
INSENSITIVE AND HURT FULL
If Mather would have stopped the fans would have been left surprised and the players nodding their heads in the truth finally coming out. Mather’s next comments were hurtful to players, fans, and the good people in the organization.
“For instance, we just rehired Iwakuma; he was a pitcher with us for a number of years. Wonderful human being: his English was terrible,” Mather said. “He wanted to get back into the game; he came to us. We quite frankly want him as our Asian scout/interpreter, what’s going on with the Japanese league. He’s coming to spring training.”
“And I’m going to say, I’m tired of paying his interpreter. When he was a player, we’d pay Iwakuma ‘X,’ but we’d also have to pay $75,000 a year to have an interpreter with him. His English suddenly got better. His English got better when we told him that.”