Opinion: Mariners vs. Martin – too early to tell


Austin Lane, For The Observer

The Seattle Mariners hired Doctor Lorena Martin as MLB’s first ever Director of High Performance in November 2017 for the 2018 season. After the season was over, Martin filed a lawsuit and accused the organization’s team owners John Stanton and Buck Ferguson and team CEO Kevin Mather of discriminatory treatment. Martin believed she had been fired for being Latina and a woman. Martin also told The News Tribune that Mariners General Manager (GM) Jerry DiPoto had called her a “cocky Latina” during the season. On top of that, Martin said that Director of Player Development Andy McKay called Dominican players “just plain stupid” and that Mariners Head Coach Scott Servais wouldn’t allow her into team meetings in spring training. Servais said that you don’t see Latino catchers or managers because “they aren’t bright enough. They are dumb,” according to Martin.

All members of the Seattle Mariners organization that are involved in the lawsuit have refuted the statements made by Martin. Servais told the media,

“I think people who know me and know Scott Servais and how I’m wired understand what’s important to me and that I try to understand where players come from and help them get over the hump and become productive major league players and be good citizens and good people.”

The Seattle Mariners main argument is that Martin was fired because she “created a hostile work environment.” The Mariners allege that Martin threatened to fire people if they spoke about medical issues with players with GM DiPoto, asked trainers for prescriptions for players when they had no prescription, ignored doctor’s orders when treating injured players, and told MLB staff she was a medical doctor even though team trainers were “concerned with her engaging in medical practices without a license.”

The last update on the story was the team’s accusations against Martin on December 29, 2018. Now, the investigation by Major League Baseball will enter phase one.

A similar lawsuit was filed in 2017 when Atlanta Hawks security manager Samuel Hayes was fired by the organization. After the firing, Hayes filed a lawsuit against the team for firing him based on his race. The Hawks denied this, saying he was fired “based on poor performance.” As of Jan. 14, 2019, the only documents I could find online about the lawsuit was an affidavit and subpoena (for the Atlanta Hawks) posted on Jan. 4, and a filing declaration on Jan. 10.

It is a tough time in America to know who is telling the truth before an investigation’s findings is released, but more times than not, I believe the person who was fired is just angry and looking to get back at their employer. Personally, I feel it’s hard to trust what I think is true and what is false. Both parties could be lying and both could very well be telling the truth. The ongoing MLB investigation should answer many people’s, myself included, questions on the allegations.

For example, my question is why did Martin only accuse the team after she was fired? On the other hand though, I question the Mariners staff in not firing her sooner if she did indeed begin to show signs of toxicity, even as soon as spring training, weeks before the regular season even began. To me, Martin’s accusations sound a little more unbelievable than the Mariners’ accusations. Scott Servais has had to play with and coach many Dominican players, I’m not so sure he thinks they are all dumb.