It's Dr. D's curious fate that he is a fan of the Seattle Mariners and also a fan of the Arsenal Gunners. These organizations are as alike in personality as are Chuck Armstrong and Howard Lincoln. The Mariners and Gunners apparatuses are chillingly competent and chillingly focused on year-to-year cash flow. In the context of their budgets, they both provide the minimum on-field success required to accomplish the business goals.
Why me? Why couldn't I have been a Manchester City fan and a Red Sox fan? (Especially after the Carson Smith trade.)
From about 2005-2011, Cesc Fabregas was the Ken Griffey Jr. of the Gunners. He was the best player in the league; he had a dashing, appealing look to his play; he did great things and did them with amazing flair; his personality was warm and infectious. He was the heartbeat of the Gunners' side.
He asked to go back and play in Spain, for exactly the same reasons that Griffey wanted to play in Cincinnati before his career was over. He'd been raised there, and he wanted the fans to behold his glory. If you were a billionaire, you'd want to land a helicopter into the middle of your 20th high school reunion, too. Arsenal, grudgingly, submitted to Barcelona's grab of their iconic midfielder.
From the day that Fabregas left, Arsenal fans worldwide followed rumors that Cesc would return to the Gunners. :: redacting here :: To make a long, sad story "medium," Cesc quickly got Spain out of his system and came back to England. He walked into the Gunners' offices, so to speak, and said "Let's do this thing!" Millions of Gunners fans worldwide rejoiced.
The Gunners told him no. You're a little older now, Cesc. You were never had much pace and it's not getting better. We have Mesut Ozil to play the 10 position. Thanks and have a great life, Cesc. ... Millions of Gunners fans worldwide had their sporting souls destroyed.
The funny thing is, the Gunners' GM* was technically justified in the decision. Cesc actually is a bit slower now, and it's possible -- maybe even a shade the probable -- that the Gunners are actually better without him. Now that he's older. Santi Cazorla is playing behind Mesut Ozil, and performing his function (bringing the ball across the 50-yard line without getting it nicked) better than Cesc would have. Mesut Ozil himself is outplaying even the vintage Cesc. It's all perfectly logical.
Technically justified, on a mathematical level. But in terms of the soul of the game?
Pete Carroll's soul is "Compete." He doesn't mean compete with the .500 teams of the league. The Mariners' and Gunners' souls are "Don't get carried away with winning. Be responsible." The part they overlook is, there's something very irresponsible about selling your soul.
What does this have to do with Beane and DiPoto? Well, it is certainly not yet time to evaluate Jerry DiPoto's soul. But we've seen this shtick before, it seems like, and let's hope that DiPoto isn't chop-blocked by the things that undercut Billy Beane.
Oh! I forgot the whole point. Which was, DiPoto will probably turn out to be right on Iwakuma's 3rd year. And in the larger picture, he'll be wrong even if he's right.
The Gunners have made the final 16 of the UEFA championship an incredible 15 times in a row. And! Won it not one single time. The same thing happens in the English League: the Gunners stand there accepting the bronze medal Every. Blinkin'. Year. Payroll-adjusted, it's the equivalent of what the Mariners do. Put a competitive team out there, in a gorgeous stadium, and print money.
The 90-wins-and-get-smashed-in-the-postseason Gunners will never be remembered. They make a terrific background scenery for the teams who will be remembered, though. They're an excellent, "logically constructed" side who always gets into the photographs when the legendary teams are celebrating their championships.