Mariners Insider Blog

News Flash: Belzebub spotted - and he didn't look like Howard Lincoln

CEO Howard Lincoln, contrary to online reports and talk radio pronouncements, is not Satan. Neither is president Chuck Armstrong.

That will be hotly debated, but the rage aimed at two executives atop the Seattle Mariners after the teams 101-loss season is as misguided as it is futile. Lincoln and Armstrong aren't going anywhere.

And around Major League Baseball, that's the norm.

It's not unfair to blame one or both for the fact that the team hasn't been in the post-season since 2001. Fans in every big-league city feel the same way about their club when disappointed.

No one said much about Lincoln and Armstrong when the team won 116 games in '01. That, too, is the nature of sports.

But as Lincoln and Armstrong go about the business of picking the next Mariners general manager from a field that holds great potential, there are a few things that need pointing out.

One, no candidate yet has withdrawn from the process because of anything said in Seattle.

And two? Neither Lincoln nor Armstrong is considered a laughing stock by other big-league owners.

Having hired GM Bill Bavasi wasn't viewed by others in the game as a disaster, and what followed – though it certainly didn't help Bavasi's resume – kept him out of baseball for less than a month.

The theory that Lincoln and Armstrong have somehow interfered and run off Ken Griffey Jr. and Randy Johnson and Alex Rodriguez doesn't hold water or fact. Junior remains close with Armstrong, and neither the Big Unit or A-Rod left because of management.

They left because they had grand plans that didn't include Seattle.

Lou Piniella? Lou left because he was frustrated by not getting more hitting – something he has asked for every year of his managerial career. He wanted another bat in the spring of '01, and he asked for more hitting in July of this year.

Lou's never satisfied, and that's part of what makes him such a great manager.

But Lincoln and Armstrong are hardly among the league leaders in front-office inteviention.

One of the reasons Pat Gillick left Baltimore was that owner Peter Angelos continually shot down his deals – including one that would have brought a young Vernon Wells to the Orioles for next to nothing.

George Steinbrenner ignored his GM and manager and acquired the contract of outfielder Raul Mondesi, embarrassing Brian Cashman and forcing Joe Torre to find a place to play the outfielder.

Interference from on high includes smaller decisions, like hiring coaches.

When Piniella took the job with the Cubs, one of his first hires was going to be Lee Elia. Cubs ownership told him that wasn't an option.

No GM has full autonomy on the job, and no candidate for the opening in Seattle expected it here. No one has turned down an interview because of Armstrong or Lincoln, or because the Mariners job description turned them off.

Those in the game aren't nearly as critical of the Mariners as their most vocal fans have been. That doesn't mean Lincoln and Armstrong have great jobs.

It does mean neither is considered a fool or demon, a joke or a pariah.

That's for fans and the media.