Kevin Mather Resigns After Controversial Comments

Seattle Mariners' former CEO, team president disparaged players, revealed sensitive info
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 23, 2021 1:08 AM CST
Kevin Mather Resigns After Controversial Comments
In this Aug. 3, 2018, file photo, Seattle Mariners president Kevin Mather stands on the field before the team's baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays in Seattle.   (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

Kevin Mather resigned as the CEO and team president of Major League Baseball's Seattle Mariners following controversial comments he made during a speech for an online meeting of the Bellevue Breakfast Rotary Club. Video from the Feb. 5 event was posted on YouTube over the weekend, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports. The Seattle Times has a transcript of the speech, in which Mather, among other things, criticized special assignment coach Hisashi Iwakuma for his "terrible" English. "I’m tired of paying his interpreter," he continued. "Because when he was a player, we’d pay Iwakuma X, but we’d also have to pay $75,000 a year to have an interpreter with him. His English suddenly got better. His English got better when we told him that." He also said of a top prospect from the Dominican Republic, "His English is not tremendous."

Those were just the beginning; ESPN's Jeff Passan writes that Mather made multiple "incalculably foolish" comments demeaning his own team's players and, in at least one case, telling an outright "falsehood" about a player. Beyond the disparaging comments, he also revealed sensitive information pertaining to organizational strategy, in one case discussing how the team manipulated a prospect's service time (a practice the New York Post calls the sport's "worst kept secret"). Mariners Chairman & Managing Partner John Stanton, who will serve as acting president and CEO until a replacement is found, said there is "no excuse" for Mather's comments, for which the ex-CEO did apologize before stepping down. The Major League Baseball Players Association says in a statement that the speech "is a highly disturbing yet critically important window into how players are genuinely viewed by management." (Watch the video here.)

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