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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

A Grip on Sports: Tone deaf probably isn’t strong enough to describe the M’s Dipoto but it will have to do

A GRIP ON SPORTS • We have a goal today. Not only to inform and entertain you. That’s our goal every morning. Nope. Today is different. Thanks to that wise sage Jerry Dipoto, we are doing our gosh darn best to be 54% successful. It seems that’s what all the cool kids try to do, so who are we to want more?


• Yes, we’re being facetious. But that doesn’t mask the fact we’re also ticked off, does it? What they hay?

During his usual after-the-season press conference – which occurred at least a week earlier than most M’s followers expected before the season – Dipoto basically told those folks who buy the tickets and gear and concessions and the like to do exactly what Pat McAfee told Washington State fans last Saturday. Though Dipoto was less crude about it.

He also came up with a statistic that we’re not sure anyone had ever heard before, and one we’re pretty sure Dipoto hasn’t shared before. We’ll pull this paragraph from Larry Stone’s excellent column for the Seattle Times (and on the S-R’s website) this morning, just so we get it right.

“And when it comes to goals,” Stone wrote, “Dipoto went a bit wonky and said that it’s proven throughout the divisional era (which began in 1969) that if you win 54% of your games over a 10-year stretch, odds are astronomical that you will make the World Series during that period.”


We know Dipoto, the Mariners’ president of baseball operations, was speaking of averaging that winning percentage over a decade but playing .540 baseball barely ensures a postseason berth most years – even with the playoff expansion. Heck, the M’s played that this season and look at where they are.

Besides, other things Dipoto said seemed to contradict his assertion, and this a direct quote as passed along by Stone:

“If we make winning the World Series our goal, we will do insane things that will cut the sustainability part of the project short. That’s not how we think. We think more broadly. We’re thinking over an extended period of time, and our goal would be that over that decade, you get to the postseason seven or eight times and are in a position to win it. In an ideal world you become one of the elite teams that go 10 in 10.

“The reality is, if what you’re doing is focusing year to year on what do we have to do to win the World Series this year, you might be one of the teams that’s laying in the mud and can’t get up for another decade. So we’re actually doing the fan base a favor in asking for their patience to win the World Series while we continue to build a sustainably good roster.”

Well thanks so much. We always appreciate a favor. How about the favor of winning the World Series? You know, like Washington did in 2019. Or, heck, even the Royals in 2015?

Ya, those teams are gosh-awful now but the titles are still theirs, aren’t they? They pushed hard to win those titles. They got them. And the Mariners? After 20 years wandering in the desert, they finally broke through into the postseason last year. Then seemed poised to do even more this year.

But the offseason was wasted. We don’t need to go through the particulars again but it’s safe to say Dipoto and the front office came through in the winter about as well as Julio Rodriguez did down the stretch.

We can give Rodriguez a pass. It was only his second time going through such a trial. Dipoto has been doing this for years. Enough years, in fact, he was run out of Orange County for pretty much the same failures he’s repeated in Seattle.

The Angels gave Dipoto four years. He failed, though it was probably more of an ownership failure than his. He’s had twice that in Seattle and, though the same parameters may apply, telling fans that management is “doing them a favor” is enough to raise their hackles a bit.

At least 46% of the time.


WSU: This is Year Two of Cameron Ward’s time at Washington State. But, in a lot of ways, it is Year One. Greg Woods tells us how in this not-to-be-missed story on the Cougar quarterback. … Pat Chun sent a letter to the NCAA Division I Council recently. In it, the athletic director laid out a request for patience as WSU and Oregon State work through the conference realignment puzzle. Greg has more in this story. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and the nation, if you are interested in WSU and OSU’s legal strategy, Jon Wilner delves into it today. … He also has his conference rankings in the S-R this morning and his Heisman watch in the Mercury News. … Want bowl projections? Jon has those as well. … He finished up looking at Utah, the two-time champ, and the challenges it faces to three-peat. One is the latest injury, something John Canzano delves into. … Stewart Mandel has some Pac-12 thoughts in this Athletic mailbag. … Oregon State put Utah away with a great fourth-down play. … Oregon is using the bye week to prepare for the Washington showdown. The Ducks are also getting dressed up. … Funny, there is so much more on Colorado, even in the Denver area, this year. When Travis Hunter returns the Buffs will get even more. … USC’s defensive woes are not new but the cause may be. … The Utah loss still stings UCLA. … Will the new Arizona State coach be studying his counterpart this week? … A running back at Arizona has run over a few people. … In basketball news, Colorado has something to prove. … UCLA’s best passer might prove to be its tallest player.

Gonzaga: One of the more anticipated games this season is a rematch of last year’s final one. The Zags face Connecticut in Seattle. The time (7 p.m.) Dec. 15 is now set, as well as the network who will broadcast it (ESPN2). Theo Lawson has more in this story.

EWU and Idaho: Around the Big Sky, Weber State didn’t move in the rankings. … Northern Arizona needs to win this week but the task is not easy. … The number of unbeaten teams in the conference is down to two. … One of them is Idaho, which travels to Cal Poly.

Preps: Dave Nichols has a roundup of Tuesday’s action. … Tampa Bay pitcher Andrew Kittredge was once a Ferris Saxon. Now he’s in the postseason again, though it comes after a long rehab from injury.

Seahawks: How the heck did Geno Smith survive? That’s the question Pete Carroll is asking himself, though he credits luck. … Four weeks in, how is Seattle doing? … Devon Witherspoon is doing well, that’s for sure. … Bob Condotta takes another look at the Russell Wilson trade haul.

Mariners: We linked Larry’s column above. Here it is again. … The news story in the Times is also worth reading. … Robbie Ray may be back mid-2024. But that’s not a given.

Kraken: Two young players are trying to make cuts harder on the coaching staff.

Golf: One last Ryder Cup postmortem from the esteemed John Feinstein.


• Before we leave you this morning, we wanted to pass along Christian Caple’s ode to his uncle, the longtime sports writer Jim Caple who recently passed. It’s free on Christian’s website, On Montlake, and worth your time. Then think about subscribing. And, no, Christian didn’t ask us to say that last part. … Another column finished at 30,000 feet. Isn’t modern life wonderful? Until later …