The Boston Red Sox spent the 2007 season undergoing an entertaining campaign to select the president of "Red Sox Nation," as they modestly...
The Boston Red Sox spent the 2007 season undergoing an entertaining campaign to select the president of “Red Sox Nation,” as they modestly refer to their sphere of fans.
The whole thing turned out to be a lot of campy fun, complete with position papers by the candidates and a town-hall debate moderated by Tim Russert. Boston Globe legend Peter Gammons, for instance, vowed that in his administration, MIT would be renamed Matsuzaka Institute of Technology. Blogger Bill Simmons said he would use his presidential powers “to get more free stuff for kids.”
From a diverse group of candidates that also included historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, Red Sox cult favorites Sam Horn and Rich “El Guapo” Garces, and various “regular” fans, the eventual winner of the online poll was Red Sox broadcaster (and former second baseman) Jerry Remy.
Which leads to a logical follow-up question: Who would be the president of Mariner Nation?
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Of course, for starters, Mariners fans would never be so pompous (or clichéd) as to call it Mariner Nation. Perhaps something more homey and intimate, like Mariner Village.
No question, the Village could use a man or woman (or Moose) of vision and courage to guide it through one of its more tumultuous periods. So let’s find him, her, or it.
Unlike the real presidential primary season, which seemingly begins a week after Election Day, this will be a whirlwind campaign. In fact, this column IS the campaign. I hereby take it upon myself to vet the vast field of potential candidates and whittle it down to 13.
I called several prospective candidates to inform them of my goofy premise, and every one of them embraced the idea in just the right spirit — somewhere between tongue in cheek and fist on podium.
“I’m up for it — particularly if there’s rally fries in it,” said Jason Finn, drummer of the rock band The Presidents of the United States of America, and a full-fledged Mariners aficionado.
“If elected, I’ll serve,” said Jim Copacino, whose advertising agency, Copacino & Fujikado, has humanized Mariners players for more than a decade. “I think I’m the Ron Paul in this, but sure.”
“Obviously, I’d be the most entertaining candidate,” said Robert Ruvkun, aka the “Bad Dancer.” “I usually don’t get embarrassed.”
A healthy lack of shame is a good quality for one overseeing a franchise whose past leaders once traded Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe for Heathcliff Slocumb. So is a good sense of humor.
Without further ado, here is my list (in no particular order):
Dave Niehaus, Mariners announcer, 1977-present. The Mariners’ voice of God, if God went crazy after game-winning hits. Just like the denizens of Mariner Village, his mood darkens when the Mariners struggle. He’s seen it all and has the tapes to prove it.
Niehaus gave me a sneak preview of his platform: “No. 1, if I were president, I would dictate that we’d never be able to use the phrase ‘Wait till next year.’ That means you haven’t done anything. That’s what they’ve been saying in Chicago since 1908.
“Plus, I’d make Edgar Martinez Drive intersect with Ken Griffey Jr. Blvd.”
Give President Niehaus his own Air Force One, and let him fly, fly away.
Edgar Martinez. The only Mariner to have a street named after him, if you don’t count Kevin King. The most beloved player in team history, and one of the best. His campaign commercials are bound to be endearing. A run for president would help prep him for his next election: the Hall of Fame.
Mario Mendoza. Who can relate to the common man more than Mendoza, a Mariner in 1979-80 whose very name has became the embodiment of mediocrity?
Mendoza’s running mate would have to be Ron Wright, the most singularly unsuccessful hitter in history. In his lone major-league game for the M’s in 2002, Wright accounted for six outs — hitting into a triple play, a double play and striking out.
Jason Finn. Hey, he’s already a President (of the United States of America) but, despite the demands of being a rock ‘n’ roll idol, still finds time to make it to a dozen or so games a year at Safeco. Seattle-born and -bred. Had a “spectacularly flunking year at Garfield in ninth grade,” and graduated from the Northwest School.
Finn is a populist. He would limit the crowd for each night game to 25,000 “so you could cruise around and eat without a big line at Ivar’s. Except when we play division rivals. Then you have to get loud and freak them out. After the top of the fourth, when I have my clams and chips, then it’s OK to open the gates and fill it up.”
Josias Manzanillo. Maybe the most courageous player in team history. In 1997, Manny Ramirez hit the pitcher squarely in his most sensitive area — cupless, alas — with a line drive. Manzanillo still managed to throw out Jim Thome at the plate and run off the field under his own power, despite what was discovered later to be a ruptured testicle. Inevitably nicknamed Half-Manzanillo.
The Mariner Moose. It’s not known if the Coco Crisp scandal will hurt his credibility. Must overcome historic prejudice against horned candidates. The Moose’s chances improve if kids are allowed to vote. Through a spokesman, the Moose submitted his platform:
• Mascots would be granted the right of way on the warning track at all times.
• More berries, nuts and twigs in Safeco Field concession stands.
• Three words … Fuzzy. Antler. Night.
• When I’m elected … every day will be Kids Day!
Alvin Davis. Anyone known as Mr. Mariner has to be on the ballot somewhere.
Ken Griffey Jr. Already has presidential campaigning experience, bankrolled by Nike. That hero’s welcome in June bodes well for this Griffey campaign.
Jim Copacino. Mastermind of those well-received Mariners ad campaigns over the years. You’ve gotta love him.
• Immediately appoint Yuniesky Betancourt as Secretary of Defense.
• Reintroduce stirrup socks.
• Issue a permanent restraining order against Vlad Guerrero at Safeco Field.
• Make it OK to rebroadcast, reproduce or retransmit pictures and accounts of Mariners games without the expressed written consent of the commissioner.
Robert Ruvkun. He’s the Bad Dancer Guy at Safeco, a schtick that began at the Kingdome. I envision him heading a “Guy” ticket that includes Rick the Peanut Guy, Tuba Guy and the old Cat Guy, who gamely tried to remove the hard-clawing feline in that classic Kingdome clip. Ruvkun promises to let his dancing do his talking — not a bad quality for any head of state.
“Dan Wilson would definitely be my vice president,” he said. “I’d probably have Jay Buhner as Secretary of Salty Snack Foods. Lou would be Secretary of Defense, no question. Edgar’s a diplomat. He’d be a United Nations envoy. Griffey would be in there as Secretary of State. The grounds crew would most certainly have a hand in every major decision in my administration, much like the Joint Chiefs of Staff.”
And furthermore: “I promise to replace all the lights at Safeco Field with disco lights, as well as turn the infield into a disco dance floor during the seventh-inning stretch. Russ Davis would be the “dancing” coach.
Shannon Drayer. As the Mariners’ reporter for KOMO, she’s tuned to the pulse of Mariner Village, and, upon request, came up with an agenda.
“The first thing I would do is declare 2008 ‘Mariner Stay at Home Season,’ ” she said. “They traveled enough. Let’s keep them home. The Indians will play nine games in Seattle, none of them concurrent, and they will all be on their off days.
“In support of education, I will give a free ticket to any child who can find Ichiro’s hometown on a map, spell ‘Yuniesky’, and figure out OPS.”
Speight Jenkins. The general director of Seattle Opera, and a longtime Mariners season-ticket holder. His campaign would hit all the right notes. Nothing wrong with bringing a little culture to the Village.
Jenkins’ first act as president would be to appoint Ichiro team captain. And, sorry, John McLaren, here’s his next move: “Hire Joe Torre! I don’t want to insult this man, but my God, Joe Torre is available.”
David Ishii. A longtime bookseller in Seattle until closing up shop two years ago. A Mariners season-ticket holder since the late 1970s. Such a fan of Seattle baseball that he not only rooted for the Brewers when the Pilots moved to Milwaukee, but he also rooted for the Red Sox because they had a preponderance of old Pilots.
Ishii has a surefire campaign winner: “As a real fan of baseball, I’d like to see concessions lowered in price. I think we should have two-dollar hot-dog days and dollar-beer night.”
I’ll pause for the extended standing ovation.
So there it is, my dirty baker’s dozen to preside over Mariner Village. If you want to make a case for Diego Segui, Slade Gorton, Joey Cora, Karen Moyer, Jay Buhner, Luis Sojo or Lou Piniella, be my guest. If you have a stealth candidate, put him out there. Send your thoughts to email@example.com.
And, sorry, if nominated, I will not accept. If elected, I will not serve. I’m happy in my current position: Village Idiot.
Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or firstname.lastname@example.org