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Originally published October 21, 2012 at 8:00 PM | Page modified October 22, 2012 at 12:06 PM

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Higher prices should come with guarantee

Higher expectations for the Mariners should come with these higher ticket prices.

Times staff columnist

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Now we know.

Don't we now have irrefutable proof the Mariners are going to make a big play for free agent Josh Hamilton? Or at least aren't they going to chase outfielder B.J. Upton and introduce him to the newer, friendlier confines of Safeco Field?

Why else would the Mariners, coming off their fourth losing season in five years, increase ticket prices for 2013?

Surely they must have a master plan to improve their product next season. They have targeted prime available players (and I'm not talking about Nick Swisher) and simply are asking their fan base to pay their fair share.

Call it quid pro quo Moneyball.

I mean these ticket increases don't have anything to do with expenditures incurred during the team's wrongheaded fight with Chris Hansen over his brilliant proposal to build an arena in Sodo. That would be bad form, wouldn't it?

This has to be a baseball-driven idea.

Wait a minute, I just thought of something: Maybe the Mariners need the money to bring back Alex Rodriguez. You know, let bygones be bygones.

Even in his diminished state, A-Rod would provide more pop on the corner than the Mariners will get from Kyle Seager next year, right?

They could move Seager to second. Or maybe they could promise Rodriguez a return to shortstop, where I'm sure he would be more productive than Brendan Ryan.

The Mariners even could promise Rodriguez that he could use Safeco as his personal nightclub, giving him permission to chuck an occasional signed baseball into the crowd, like a heat-seeking missile, looking for a postgame date.

Maybe he was just frustrated late this season. Maybe his batting drought was the result of a dating drought. A change of scenery might be the answer.

Ok, that's probably not going to happen. There would be a riot at Safeco if A-Rod returned. There's a better chance of Jim Lehrer moderating another presidential debate than Rodriguez playing another game as a Mariner.

But back to the original point. The Mariners are raising ticket prices for the 2013 season.

Full-season plans will rise as much as 6.9 percent in some sections. The price of some weekend plans will increase by 10.6 percent.

Hey, the fences aren't going to move in themselves. It takes money for a project like that. Somebody's got to pay for the shortened power alleys and I don't mean the pitchers.

You say you want anybody but Justin Smoak at first base next season? Well power-hitting first basemen don't grow on trees. Even someone like veteran Travis Hafner could cost as much as a couple of million bucks.

And, if you want Chone Figgins and his $8 million salary out of Seattle, that also comes with a price tag. The Mariners made a mistake and now they're asking you to pay to have it fixed. That's the way of the world in professional sports.

We all watched what the Baltimore Orioles and Oakland A's did this season and, at times, wondered why it couldn't have been the Mariners making a magical run at a division title.

Why does it always seem like the Mariners' version of Moneyball winds up with ticket increases, kind of a You-Spend-The-Money-Ball. Wouldn't it be wonderful if, just one year, like next year, it would be the Mariners making all the right moves, playing deep into October, waking up the dying echoes of 2001?

These are legitimate questions and M's fans have a right to demand more.

Higher expectations should come with these higher ticket prices. Why shouldn't Mariners fans demand a surprise season like Oakland just had?

Why shouldn't they demand the team finally discover a hitter who can deliver an OPS of .800 or higher? And why shouldn't they refuse to pay more in 2014 if their expectations aren't met next year?

This is the season of truth for the Mariners. The 2013 season should come with a few guarantees.

The Mariners should guarantee they will re-sign starter Jason Vargas. And maybe they should guarantee they will take a flier on Melky Cabrera, hoping he can have a drug-free season as magical as the All-Star first half he had this year in San Francisco.

Higher ticket prices should come with promises. An Oakland-like year in Seattle, or the M's playing like the O's.

That's what we're really asking here. A lot more bang for the increased bucks. Real Moneyball in Seattle.

Steve Kelley: 206-464-2176 or

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About Steve Kelley

Steve Kelley covers all sports, putting his spin on matters involving both the home team and the nation. | 206-464-2176


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