There is stunning news out of Seattle, as Mariners CEO and Chairman of the Board Howard Lincoln will announce his retirement in a press conference this afternoon, according to multiple sources. Lincoln is 76 and was the former chairman of Nintendo's division in the United States, which also owns the M's. He's been in charge in Seattle since 1999. He'll be replaced in his roles by minority owner John Stanton.
The start of Lincoln's tenure coincided with the most successful period in Mariners history, including their successful forays into the Japanese market that have netted Ichiro Suzuki, Kasahiro Sasaki, Kenji Johjima, and Hisashi Iwakuma. Even as the club shed Hall of Fame talents like Ken Griffey Jr, Randy Johnson, and Alex Rodriguez, his team improved. Still, that initial success was followed by 14 straight seasons without a postseason appearance. After luring Pat Gillick out west, Lincoln hired both Bill Bavasi and Jack Zduriencik to run the M's into the ground. He leaves the Mariners seemingly in better footing, in the hands of Jerry DiPoto and in first place in the AL West.
It's unclear what Lincoln's departure means for the Mariners' front office going forward. Stanton is an unknown quanitity. Also, presumably, DiPoto was a Lincoln hire, and the new sheriff in town may be looking for an excuse to bring in his own deputies. And that could potentially jeopardize the progress that's been made in the Pacific Northwest.