NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, February 22nd, 2021

Kevin Mather’s departure from the Seattle Mariners was absolutely necessary

Ear­li­er today, Seat­tle Mariners prin­ci­pal own­er John Stan­ton announced that Kevin Math­er had resigned as the orga­ni­za­tion’s Pres­i­dent & CEO after mak­ing a series of inde­fen­si­ble com­ments — many about his col­leagues in the Mariners orga­ni­za­tion — at a recent meet­ing of the Belle­vue Rotary club.

The com­ments includ­ed pet­ty, deroga­to­ry remarks about Mariners play­ers, includ­ing some of the orga­ni­za­tion’s strongest prospects, which own­er­ship is count­ing on get­ting the team back into the play­offs after a two decade absence.

After Math­er’s appear­ance at the Rotary club made the news, Math­er issued an apol­o­gy and pledged to “make amends,” vow­ing to be bet­ter in the future.

But it was appar­ent to Mariners fans that Math­er had to go — imme­di­ate­ly — a posi­tion also echoed by sports colum­nists, both local and national.

“Straight to the point: Kevin Mather’s employ­ment with the Mariners should be fin­ished. Every minute he’s still on the job is a fur­ther indict­ment of the orga­ni­za­tion and what it stands for,” the Seat­tle Times’ Lar­ry Stone wrote.

“It was­n’t just that Math­er said what he did. It’s that he thinks it in the first place,” observed ESP­N’s Jeff Pas­san. “And that he believed a group of Rotar­i­ans rep­re­sent­ed the right audi­ence to tell his warped ver­sion of the truth.”

“And that in an apol­o­gy, he deemed the episode a ‘lapse in judg­ment,’ as if big­otry is a one-time thing you try out on a call with strangers, or telling fake sto­ries about the peo­ple who are the heart of the busi­ness you’re sup­posed to be run­ning con­sti­tutes good management.”

“Kevin Math­er should have been gone by now,” said The Ath­let­ic’s Ken Rosen­thal. “The Mariners should have dis­missed him the moment they act­ed upon what the Seat­tle Times report­ed in 2018 – that before Math­er became team pres­i­dent and CEO, he was one of three club exec­u­tives accused by women of inap­pro­pri­ate work­place con­duct, result­ing in finan­cial set­tle­ments for the complainants.”

“It is time for the Mariners to do what should have been done a decade ago. Either you care about inclu­sion and equal­i­ty, or you don’t. Fire Kevin Math­er,” Col­by Patn­ode declared in an edi­to­r­i­al for True to the Tri­dent.

Math­er belat­ed­ly real­ized his posi­tion was unten­able and decid­ed to offer his res­ig­na­tion, accord­ing to Stan­ton, which Stan­ton then accepted.

“Like all of you, I was extreme­ly dis­ap­point­ed when I learned of Kevin Mather’s recent com­ments,” said Stan­ton. “His com­ments were inap­pro­pri­ate and do not rep­re­sent our organization’s feel­ings about our play­ers, staff, and fans.”

“There is no excuse for what was said, and I won’t try to make one,” Stan­ton con­tin­ued. “I offer my sin­cere apol­o­gy on behalf of the club and my part­ners to our play­ers and fans. We must be, and do, better.

“Kevin Math­er has resigned his posi­tion effec­tive imme­di­ate­ly. I want to thank Kevin for his twen­ty-five years of ser­vice to our franchise.”

“I will serve as act­ing Pres­i­dent and CEO until a suc­ces­sor can be chosen.”

Stan­ton also pushed back against ques­tions about hav­ing to rebuild destroyed trust by argu­ing that the orga­ni­za­tion remains guid­ed in base­ball mat­ters by Mariners gen­er­al man­ag­er Jer­ry Dipo­to and man­ag­er Scott Servais.

“I believe that Jer­ry is high­ly respect­ed. I believe that Scott is high­ly respect­ed,” Stan­ton told reporters. “And in the club­house those are the two peo­ple, Scott in par­tic­u­lar that the play­ers look at. I think that that’s who many of the fans look to as well. In terms of build­ing trust going for­ward, you build trust over time, and you build that rela­tion­ship by com­mu­ni­cat­ing hon­est­ly, con­sis­tent­ly. We will do every­thing we can as an orga­ni­za­tion to con­tin­ue to build that trust.”

Math­er was already dis­liked by many fans, owing in part to the afore­men­tioned sex­u­al harass­ment com­plaints pre­vi­ous­ly made against him that were set­tled out of court, but unfor­tu­nate­ly, he was kept in his posi­tion when John Stan­ton’s own­er­ship group bought the Seat­tle Mariners from Nin­ten­do of America.

“John Stan­ton said pub­licly he was “Kevin Mather’s biggest fan” at the time Stan­ton ascend­ed to lead the own­er­ship group, which gives you an idea of the rela­tion­ship between the two,” Look­out Land­ing’s Kate Preuss­er observed after Math­er’s depar­ture had been announced by Stan­ton.

“He was a long-tenured employ­ee with an own­er­ship stake in the club who was pro­mot­ed mul­ti­ple times before receiv­ing the title of team pres­i­dent and CEO. He appeared on-field every time an impor­tant award was being giv­en out — I know, because I’ve cropped him out of all those shots when we pub­lished them.”

Stan­ton had an oppor­tu­ni­ty today to com­plete­ly renounce Math­er and own the deci­sion to keep Math­er in a lead­er­ship posi­tion despite the evi­dence that he was­n’t lead­er­ship mate­r­i­al. Dis­ap­point­ing­ly, he did­n’t take it.

Asked if Math­er would have been ter­mi­nat­ed had he not hand­ed in his res­ig­na­tion this morn­ing, Stan­ton opt­ed to side­step the ques­tion. He could have instead said Yes, I would have fired him. That state­ment should have come easily.

League brass issued a state­ment of their own fol­low­ing Math­er’s res­ig­na­tion which was less def­er­en­tial to Math­er than Stan­ton’s statements.

It said:

“We con­demn Kevin Mather’s offen­sive and dis­re­spect­ful com­ments about sev­er­al play­ers. We are proud of the inter­na­tion­al play­ers who have made base­ball bet­ter through their out­stand­ing exam­ples of courage and deter­mi­na­tion, and our glob­al game is far bet­ter because of their con­tri­bu­tions. His mis­guid­ed remarks do not rep­re­sent the val­ues of our game and have no place in our sport.”

I’m guess­ing oth­er clubs won’t be inter­est­ed in hir­ing Math­er. And that’s a good thing. He has proved, repeat­ed­ly, that he does­n’t have the qual­i­ties need­ed in a leader. It was absolute­ly nec­es­sary that the Mariners sev­er ties with him.

Now that that has hap­pened, the own­ers must select a new Pres­i­dent and CEO who will val­ue account­abil­i­ty, trans­paren­cy, and respon­sive­ness and mod­el those val­ues for every­one in the Mariners orga­ni­za­tion — includ­ing the owners.

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