Well, you will NOT be alone. Lots of people move from New York to Seattle. Look at Howard Schultz, and he didn't come equipped with a $252 million contract, just an idea about tall, grande and venti.
Speaking of that $252 million contract, or $240 million. Whatever. Jay-Z reportedly blew into town Thursday and demanded an extra year from Mariners President Howard Lincoln after he thought you all were good with 9 years at $225M. Word is that Howard allegedly blew up at this hostage-taking move, but maybe things really got bad when Jay-Z taunted the Mariners with this: "Just might let you meet Ye." I mean, maybe Kanye and Kim named their kid North West because, well, you all were looking for a deal up in this neck of the NW woods?
Whatever did happen last night in downtown Seattle between you and the M's, I would have loved to have been in the room for that exchange. The Mariners open their wallets for you, Robbie, the way they tried to do for Griffey, Randy Johnson and Alex Rodriguez -- who went to Texas for the exact $252 million contract all those years ago -- and they get Jay-Z making them crawl through the infield dirt for your services. Who said Scott Boras was the only greedy kingpin looking to humiliate baseball teams?
Jay-Z is a power player, no doubt. He's got Barneys, where even racial profiling by the clothing store won't stop the rap king from plowing forward with his partnership. He's got Beyonce, whose allure as an entertainer mystifies me, but Jay put a ring on it and now look at her. The two of them off shopping for mansions in Miami, going vegan. I think maybe Jay-Z wants in on Seattle since its got legal weed. He can "no papers, just vapors" himself into bliss every time he drops in on you, though I draw the line at ANY talk of Jay/Bey looking for a waterfront home in Medina or Mercer Island or Juanita. Stay in NYC, folks. Just let us have you, Robbie. We will forget the amateur-hour negotiations by Mr. Marcy Project and move forward.
See, Seattle can be a baseball town. It was, for like 6.8 years. Between 1995 and 2002, another former Yankee, Lou Piniella, was somehow persuaded to move from Florida/New York and take over this perennial pathetic franchise. And we all know what happened there. Piniella goaded the front office to surround Ken Griffey, Randy Johnson, Edgar Martinez and Alex Rodriguez with key utility and role players (Luis Sojo, Vince Coleman, Norm Charlton) and wound up in the post-season, including the American League Championship Series in 1995 and 2001. Good times, until Piniella and Pat Gillick decided they'd had enough. Piniella went back to Tampa, and he declined the M's overtures to return when asked in October 2013, but I still see Pat Gillick walking around Magnolia, on the phone, the eternal scout.
That's one thing that you will find interesting about Seattle. A lot of players like to LIVE here, but hate playing here. Or dislike it, because the air travel means that the Mariners fly about 25 percent more than any other MLB club. It's just a long freaking ride to get out of the Pacific Northwest. I mean, sometimes I understand how hallucinations can set in about being able to see Russia from Alaska. I mean, we can see North Korea from Elliott Bay, and Japan from Everett. We are THIS close to OTHER countries but, when it comes to road trips, man, it's a good thing Boeing is located here, I think it still is, because Seattle NEEDS its planes.
That was one thing that was weird about the Mariners in 2001, after the horrendous attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and in Shanksville PA. The planes stopped flying over Seattle and it got VERY VERY quiet here. Even more quiet than usual. But, in the aftermath of that horrific attack, it was the Mariners who kind of helped snap Seattle back into reality, into a ordinary day-to-day life. I can remember the way Mark McLemore and Mike Cameron took to the field after the 2001 season started up again. It was the franchise's 25th anniversary season. The Mariners were on their way to a 116-46 record -- an incredible feat for a team that had long been the 1962 Mets forever and ever. The Mariners were very much part of the city's vibe and identity. The players and new stadium and the daily theater was a decent antidote to the nervous despair we all felt after witnessing, experiencing such a startling act of terror.
That seems like yesterday. But then again, like a long time ago. In the wake of such a terrible event, the eventual defections of Seattle's star players seemed inevitable. Alex Rodriguez couldn't wait to leave. He talked about the Dodgers and Braves, maybe the Yankees or Mets, but he ended up taking the money from Tom Hicks at the Texas Rangers. That was an insult. The Rangers!? Griffey wanted to go back to Cincinnati, have spring training near his home in Orlando. Who could blame him? By the time he came back for a swan song, Griffey's say hey days here were over. He quit. It was kind of bummer. But Griffey is still a complicated but lovable native son here in Seattle, a place he lauds as being inclusive, not caring about color or economics or anything. Everyone here can just chill.
Outside of the huge contract extension given to ace pitcher Felix Hernandez, I can't think of any other contract or free-agent signing that comes anywhere close to the deal that the M's just gave you, or gave Jay-Z for you. This is truly BIG. This puts you at the center of a franchise that needs an anchor. I, for one, hope you do a lot better than Carlos Beltran did when the Mets signed him to that big deal. I hope that this deal is sort of like the one the Orioles did with Miguel Tejada in 2004. The Orioles were mired in the longstanding Peter Angelos quasi-muddle, and no single player was going to turn them into a World Series team. However, I think you can be the catalyst for energy, for a sense of professionalism, for optimism. The team needs you. The city will worship you if you can provide the star power and ballast, the hits and the glove to a foundering franchise that just has the hardest time keeping or attracting free agents.
Anyway, as much as I hate to admit it -- since it took an obscene amount of money to get you here -- I think this is a great move. I don't care that you will be 40 when you are at the end of this 10-year deal. I don't care that Jay-Z has become ubiquitously obnoxious. I don't care that rap and baseball are dovetailing in a power-broker melange that will surely alienate some of the diehard old fans of "The National Pastime." It's just that when you have a major league baseball team in town and there are 81 home games every season and the weather is nice and the Yankees or Red Sox are in town, it's nice to have an All-Star on the field for every out, making it feel like your team can compete. You're bringing Seattle talent, star power, credibility.
As laid back and too-cool-for-school as people are out here, we kind of got used to our Gary Paytons, our Griffeys, our Shawn Kemps and Kevin Durants and Ichiros. And as lucky as Seattle is to have Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch and the Seahawks; as juiced as we are about Clint Dempsey, Eddie Johnson and the Sounders, baseball is different. Baseball is every day. It is a game and a soap opera that requires a leading man to be in every frame, every play.
I'm flashing forward now, wondering what happens over the course of your tenure here; all the photos that will be snapped; all the TV commercials you'll star in; the rumors about where you'll live (Hey, Tim Lincecum is selling his condo at the Escala. You want it?)
You will like it here. I mean, Bill Russell still lives here. Lenny Wilkens. Mel Stottlemyer, Omar Vizquel, too. Today, Vizquel, the potential Hall of Fame second baseman, sounded kind of floored by your decision, and the decision by the Mariners to spend so much on you. He thinks it was kind of, well, stupid.
But, here you are. I wonder how long it will take for you ask yourself the same thing that Vizquel said: "What's he thinking?" I hope you never do, but, after the rush of the $252 million comes the long, hard slog of the season, or 10 of them.
Welcome aboard. We're here for you, Robbie. But Seattle is a long way from New York and the jet lag takes years to get over.
Is a former political and sports columnist who worked great cities like Albany NY, Seattle, Baltimore and Harrisburg PA. She lives New York.