Don Wakamatsu fired by Seattle Mariners

Don Wakamatsu fired, nice guys finish last….

 Seattle Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik announced today that manager Don Wakamatsu along with pitching coach Rick Adair and bench coach Ty Van Burkleo have all been fired. Zduriencik said: “I have concluded that these changes needed to be made now and that they are in the best interest of the Mariners as we move forward,” general manager Jack Zduriencik said in a press release. “Don, Ty and Rick are all good baseball men and they have done their very best. But we are where we are. I no longer have confidence that Don, Ty and Rick are the right long-term fit for our organization. New leadership is needed and it is needed now.”

 Daren Brown manager with the Mariners AAA affiliate the Tacoma Rainiers will be brought-in as the interim manager, along with Carl Willis who will take over as the pitching coach for Rick Adair. Roger Hansen will be the new bench coach for the rest of the season.

  While this move does not come as a major shock for most of us fans, it is a bit disturbing in that the Seattle Mariners have gone through 16 managers since the team’s inception in 1977. Only Lou Piniella has survived for more than three seasons out of the whole bunch, and it is no coincidence that the Mariners only real winning era was under Piniella.

  It is no secret that Wakamatsu never really had control of the clubhouse especially after the whole Ken Griffey Jr. situation. Wakamatsu ended up being the fall-guy for upper-management to handle that tough scenario that appeared to be still lingering in the dugout when Chone Figgins exploded after being pulled from a game recently by Wakamatsu.

   I liked Wakamatsu as an individual, but after seeing how the veterans disrespected him this year down at Peoria for spring training this year, I knew trouble was brewing. Wakamatsu made a lot of questionable moves this year with his odd lineups, difficulty in handling the bullpen, and just being generally indecisive. Of course last year Wakamatsu could do no wrong, but some of that was luck, and some can be attributed to the veterans Griffey and Mike Sweeney helping Wakamatsu out.

 So now with roughly 2/3 of the season over we will trudge forward  to another off-season of uncertainty where we will continue the never-ending rebuilding project that started in 2003 and has no end in sight. One common denominator through all the years of failure and heartache that we fans have endured here is two names: Chuck Armstrong and Howard Lincoln. These two guys manage to keep their jobs no matter who comes or goes. This franchise has some serious problems like lack of goals, unaccountable front office personnel, and an absentee owner. These problems will not go away no matter who is managing this team and it is time for the fans to demand some real change at the top or we will continue to go through managers, GM’s, and players like a sailor blowing his cash after a long voyage.

Mariners Melt-Down

 The Mariners lost another close game tonight 2-1 to the Boston Red Sox and in the process produced enough controversy to keep all of us bloggers busy for a week. But to be honest with you I knew something had to give at some point and tonight’s melt-down in the dugout comes as little surprise with the way this season has been going. There is no excuse for the way Chone Figgins dogged that play in the fifth allowing Cameron to go to third. I guess Don Wakamatsu decided to set an example of Figgins and that lead to the dugout scuffle. I really don’t know exactly who said what or who threatened who, and the whole thing is just a sad situation.

  I saw Don Wakamatsu’s post-game interview and he looked visibly shaken as he brushed-off certain questions. I have been quick to judge the skippers decisions in my blog this year but in this case I have to back him up and hope the Mariners front office does the same. Granted there has been several other players who have made some really weak plays on the field, and especially on the bases recently who deserve to ride the pine for awhile as well,  thus choosing to bench Figgins may have been a bit unfair. But as long as Wakamatsu is the manager he has the right to bench players who don’t hustle and he exercised that right tonight plain and simple

   I hope those who thought Griffey and Sweeney were not important because of their age and thus bad-mouthed them in the media and on several other blogs, may realize now that winning is a lot more difficult than calculating sabermetrics stats. No, a club needs veterans to show leadership and set the tone and if need be call-out other players who aren’t hustling. Yes the manager needs to set the tone, and perhaps Don Wakamatsu isn’t strong enough to manage in the Big Leagues, but the players themselves need to keep each other accountable as well.

   I saw this coming even when I was down in Peoria at spring training this year. Just a few things here and there that showed me something was not right with the chemistry. Certainly some of the veterans were acting a little cocky around Wakamatsu, and not only did I hear a few things but I could tell by body language. However in my experience both as a player and a fan I do know that these little blow-ups happen every now and then and they are not the end of the world.

   Athletes are intense, competitive and often times a little full of themselves after years of being adored by fans and coddled by teams trying to win games. And of course it doesn’t help when you are losing, especially as bad as the Mariners are this year. You add-up a losing season, a relatively green skipper, and Jocks with giant Egos who are not hustling and something has to give. So it finally happened, and maybe it needed too….

Cliff Lee dominates as Mariners win 4-2

Cliff Lee pitched another gem tonight against the Texas Rangers going all nine innings to give the Mariners a 4-2 victory down in Arlington to start a four game series. Don Wakamatsu put  a new fresh lineup on the field tonight batting Chone Figgins at the bottom of the order as well as starting Mike Carp at first. Figgins responded by going 3-4 and making a great diving catch in the second inning. Carp who had 10 homers for Tacoma replaced Mike Sweeney on the roster while Sweeney tries to recover from his back problems. Wak shook up his own coaching staff by switching Lee Tinsley from first base  over to third base with Mike Brumley. Milton Bradley batted second and picked up a hit, but it seems Josh Wilson would be a more natural guy to bat second. I applaud Wakamatsu for trying some new moves and just hope they work.

    Offensively the Mariners had a big inning in the second when Carp lead off with a single and got forced out at second. Following that, none other than Rob Johnson picked up his first of two hits on the night setting the stage for Michael Saunders. Saunders turned on a pitch and lined a ball just over the right field fence for a 3-run homer. Figgins got on with a single and stole second but got caught trying to steal third following the blast by the tall lanky Canadian Saunders.

   The Mariners picked up another run in the third with a single by Rob Johnson scoring Mike Carp who had reached base on an error and was moved up by Josh Wilson who had another 2-hit night. The rest of the night was all about Cliff Lee who just kept pounding the strike zone all night keeping the Rangers at bay. Lee pitched out of jams in both the fourth and fifth innings leaving a couple of Rangers on base both times. Cliff Lee exudes confidence on every pitch and tonight there was no doubt who was in charge.

   Lee pitched 8 innings without giving up a run or a walk and thus was given the ball to finish this one out in the 9th where things got a bit dicey for the southpaw. The Rangers were able to get lucky and pick-up two runs in the ninth on sharp ground balls that made it through the infield. Jose Lopez however made a great play on a ball in the hole to get a force at second and save a run. It looked like the Rangers may have had a chance for a comeback victory after Lee dropped a ball shoveled to him by Casey Kotchman , but true to form Cliff Lee got the last out before we had to call on the recently shaky bullpen.

  The AL West is bunched up at the top with the other three clubs in the division hovering just above .500. The Mariners need to  win this series to stay alive. It seems we have been around 7 or 8 games back for over a month despite going through injuries, retirements and various melt-downs. For tonight we are still breathing in this race despite the endless trials this club has put itself and the die-hard fans through.

Slow News Day for Mariners

Yesterday I took a nasty tumble at second base while I was playing softball,  after I shook it off the first thing that came to my mind was I’m to old at 52 to be playing shortstop. Jack Wilson is 20 years younger and he is thinking the same thing, Ken Griffey is 40 and looking at the end, and Milton Bradley is taking a deeper look at life himself for perhaps the first time. Americans have always loved to compete, and we seem to derive a little to much of our identity based on what we do for a living in comparison to other people around the world. You could make the case that our will to win is what made this country great. But at what cost to ourselves, our planet, and those we care about do we need to keep pushing the envelope?

  In my case it is a no-brainer, this will be my last season. Jack Wilson sounds like he is ready to give it up. Ken Griffey will probably finish the year in some capacity. And perhaps Milton Bradley has hit some sort of bottom spiritually and emotionally and may surprise us all by evolving into a more well-rounded human being. Of course no one much cares about my baseball career, but it is a slow news day and I thought I would break things up with a feel-good story.

  Baseball is a bit different from most sports with all the history, metaphors, and parallels to real life. When I look through my scrap-book of old players that my grandfather GordonDusty”  Rhodes played with in the majors, and look at the faces, I see people like us in their timeless poses. Somehow when I put on my cleats or head down to the Safe I get lost in to a time-warp. For the players who are actually in the dug-outs it must be even more surreal and difficult to let go of. Chone Figgins must somehow still be holding on to his confidence, Griffey to his faith in his swing, Rob Johnson to the time when he was a top prospect. In reality it is our higher nature that has to intercede and tell us when it is time to move-on, if we listen. If not the game of baseball can be a cruel Mistress indeed.

Griffey asleep,Larue a creep…

Larry Larue a small town reporter for the Tacoma Tribune has made his mark as a big-league journalist by scooping a story on Hall of Famer Ken Griffey supposedly taking a nap during a game in the clubhouse. Dirty Laundry sells papers I guess, and with the demise of good reporters jobs I guess Larue is desperate. Makes me glad to be a non-commercial blogger and can’t wait till Larue has to join me someday when his paper folds.

  To be honest I’m more concerned about players like Chone Figgins, David Aardsma, Casey Kotchman, and Rob Johnson amongst others who appear to be sleeping on the field. The recent call-ups, Josh Wilson in particular seem to be wide awake. And how about us fans, no one seems to care about what it is like to try to stay awake while we listen  to Dave Sims and Rick Rizz night after night as they try to be clever.

 Unfortunately there is a 90% chance of rain in Baltimore for Tuesdays game against the Orioles. I can’t imagine what sort of story will be coming out of the center of sophistication and culture known as Tacoma, if we don’t get back to Baseball soon.

Mariners edge Royals 6-5 coming home at 500

The Mariners picked up a nice win today 6-5 and amazingly come back home at 500 and right in the thick of the AL West race after a road trip that was trying on the nerves. The top of the order Ichiro and Chone Figgins combined for 5 hits including a clutch 2 run triple by Chone Figgins in the 5th against former Mariner Gil Meche. Jack Wilson also contributed with his bat as well as a spectacular leaping throw in the bottom of the 8th that should add to his legacy with another ESPN highlight clip.

Ryan-Rowland Smith relied on his breaking ball to get to the bottom of the 6th before getting tagged for 4 runs with 2 outs to tie the game. It seemed like Wak waited to long to bring in a reliever considering how important getting this victory was to the Mariners. But indeed we did get the victory after adding a run in the top of the 8th following Milton Bradley’s lead-off double and the execution of the Mariners, first by Sweeney moving the runner over and then the sacrifice- fly by Rob Johnson. The bullpen crew were able to hold the lead today, with League, Lowell, and Aardsma all shutting down the Kansas City Royals who had a lineup today that included 5 ex-Mariners including Willie Bloomquist from Port Orchard.

So now our crew gets to enjoy a day off before opening up against division Rivals the Texas Rangers on Friday with Cliff Lee on the mound. You can say what you want about this season but to me it is apparent that our team is resilient and have a “don’t give up attitude”. It seems all of us Fans have a lot to learn as many including myself have been all to eager to second-guess our team, perhaps it is all the years of disappointment. Either way I plan on heading down to the Safe Friday and supporting our crew, see you there!

Chone figgins, Ichiro, Willie Bloomquist, ESPN,AL West, Cliff Lee

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