Booze, Baseball, and another "B"

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Trouble in paradise....

FINALLY someone involved has come out and said that they're unhappy with the Mariners' performance.

Who? Only the guy who's quite possibly the best baseball player of all time (without a doubt the best Mariner of all time), Ichiro.

Ichiro says that he doesn't like the lax attitude taken by the players, the lack of preparation, and the players being oblivious to losing. As a fan who feels the same way, I can't say that I disagree with his comments.

Reading about the article in locations other than the PI, people are making it sound as though Ichiro isn't happy with Hargrove. I can't say one way or the other if that is true for Ichiro, but I can say that I did not support bringing Hargrove here to replace Bob Melvin, and he has not won me over with his managing in the year that he's been here. Hargrove didn't keep a bunch of his coaches from last season (including Bryan Price), and Hargrove has publicly criticized Ichiro's style of play (which is probably easy for him, since he wasn't around when Ichiro ran into the concrete wall in Right Field at the Safe, injuring himself and hurting his production, and the team's winning percentage, for the rest of that year). None of these add up to him being good.

I've seen some comparisons made of Ichiro to Terrell Owens because of this recent article. Those people are completely missing the point, and really have no idea what they are talking about. TO is a superb player who only cares about himself, and does not care about the team or if the team does well. TO wants TO to put up great numbers. TO wants TO to win, not the team. Ichiro is a superb player who DOES care about his personal numbers, but would sacrifice his own records for a winning team, if that's what it took to win (more likely it would take Ichiro continuing his outstanding performance and not being the only person on the team who comes to the park to play). People who think Ichiro is a whining primadonna in the same vein as TO don't know rat$#!* from rice crispies.

In critique of what Ichiro has said, he shouldn't have said it to a newspaper. Regardless of whether or not the interview was in Japanese, you have to expect something like that to get out. On top of that, Ichiro needs to be providing some of the leadership in the clubhouse. Nobody (other than the players) knows how much Ichi is or is not contributing, but it's obvious that he could be contributing more. That being said, the other players need to step up. Of course it's tough when you have a team full of AAA call-ups, but when the veterans have an attitude like Jeff Nelson ("Who cares if they win or lose?"), how can you expect rookies to produce? The Mariners have been needing Jay Buhner back in the clubhouse for the last few years; the problem is, he's not playing anymore. Boonie was a leader for the team, but when he stopped hitting and couldn't field, his leadership went away. Gone is Edgar, as is Dan Wilson. It's time for guys like Sexson and Beltre to own up to being worth their contracts and both produce on the field and lead in the clubhouse. If the club still had guys like Mark McLemore, Stan Javier, and Norm Charlton, I don't think this would be an issue. But all of those guys are gone, and there needs to be someone who steps up and fills their roles.

So what will the club do? If it was a player other than Ichiro who said these things, he'd be gone. Being that it was Ichiro, I can't see the front office kicking him to the curb. I think that they'll probably put more effort into getting themselves an ace for the pitching rotation, but I can't see Bavasi coming away with anything better than A.J. Burnett (who is NOT an ace). I think they'll continue to try to figure out free agents to pick up, but with the crop of guys who are available this year, I can't see FAs being the solution to the M's problems. I would like to see this article get some responses from the team and players, and more than anything I would like this article to light a fire under Bavasi and Hargrove, and maybe get them out of their current, being ok with losing, attitude.

I think that this offseason just got a lot more interesting.

In better Mariners news, visitors to the Mariners web site (at least at press time) are right in their estimation of who the Mariners best closer has been.

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