Note: This is a few more words than I intended. Sorry. This is just my opinion and doesn’t reflect any of the other author’s thoughts on this subject.
The entire M’s blogosphere has had an interesting 2 days. With the firing of Alan Cockrell and a story surfacing of Griffey taking a nap, I have read countless posts about what all of this means. Naturally, I don’t think there’s enough stories about this so I’ll have to add one Good Guy’s take on it. (That sentence was sarcastic if you didn’t catch on.)
First, I’ll start with Griffey napping. If you haven’t heard the story you either hate sports, are a Martian, or don’t have access to the internet. If this is the case, I have no idea why you would read this blog but here’s the basics of the story: Griffey was going to pinch-hit for Rob Johnson late in a tied game but instead was taking a nap in the clubhouse. Several players told this to reporter Larry LaRue. Yes, this is bad but I tend to think that it’s not nearly as bad as people are saying. To be honest, I don’t really care. Here are a few reasons why I don’t care:
- Griffey would have gotten out. There’s hardly a doubt in my mind that the Griff-dawg would have rolled a ground ball to the second baseman or struck out. It’s not like we were going to send Albert Pujouls up to the plate; Rob Johnson has a better on-base percentage than Griffey. Sure, you could play the what-if game and say, “Griffey could have come in, got a hit and would have won the game for us” but baseball, and life for that matter, aren’t about “what if’s” which lead me to my next point.
- The Mariners didn’t win. If the Mariners had won this game no one makes much of a story about this. Seriously. All of these so-called “off the field” issues that have been reported in the last few weeks would hardly be an issue if the Mariners had simply won a few more ball games. Griffey missed one at-bat, it didn’t lose us the game. Eric Byrnes not talking to reporters and riding out on his bike did not put us on the losing streak. His missed suicide squeeze but the events afterwards did nothing to physically alter the baseball games that followed. Milton Bradley did not put us on that losing streak either. His situation is a little more tricky since he’s not playing right now but his off the field antics have nothing to do with the performance of 8 of his other teammates who are playing. Scapegoats come up when you’re not winning and this is what is happening right now. All of these guys screwed up some in handling their situations but it hardly affected this teams performance. Blame it on slumps, blame it on poor execution but think twice before blaming all of this 3 off the field antics.
- If you take a step back this situation is kind of funny. Griffey looks like an old man at the plate and now is found sleeping in the clubhouse during games. I like to laugh and picturing this cracks me up. Take a few deep breaths and stop taking things so seriously if it doesn’t at least make you chuckle. Have you watched this team? They put me to sleep too.
I’m not saying what Griffey did isn’t wrong. People don’t go to work and fall asleep on the job because it’s wrong; Griffey was wrong for doing this. But, if you’re going to be upset with something, and there are lots to choose from on this team at the moment, it seems like you should pick something better than a guy taking a nap.
If Griffey ends up getting cut or retires it won’t be because he fell asleep, it’ll be because he can’t really hit the ball right now. Eric Byrnes was not cut because he didn’t talk to reporters and rode off on his bike (which is also hilarious by the way). He was cut because he couldn’t hit, wasn’t a very good fielder and didn’t contribute to this team. As much as the media has made it seem that Byrnes was cut because he didn’t talk after a game, that’s not the case. He was cut because he sucks.
Our management isn’t dumb enough to cut people because they screw something up off the field. They know it’s a business and that the results on the field is what ultimately matters. Yes, they care about their employees and that is shown in the way they’ve handled some of these situations but it’s about on-field results.
This leads me to the firing of Alan Cockrell. Many people have called this move unjustified. I don’t agree with these people at all.
There are a couple of sides to their argument. One of them is that the hitting coach shouldn’t be blamed for an entire team slumping. There’s no debating that the M’s have been slumping lately, they’ve been stuck in a rut and there’s no way that they could be this bad for an entire season. But, this slump is different. This slump has lasted for 5 weeks. And because you can’t fire all your position players you fire the man who’s in charge of them. Yes, this is flawed logic to some degree but doesn’t it make sense to let go of a person who’s in charge of a team hitting?
Obviously, Cockrell wasn’t helping. I understand that players need to execute but this guys job was to make sure those players executed. They didn’t.
Geoff Baker had a post early Monday morning about this team only holding Cockrell and Byrnes accountable so far this season. I’ve stated that I don’t like Baker but I think he’s done a decent job so far this year. I completely disagreed with this post though.
These moves didn’t have much to do with holding certain layers accountable and other players not. When an organization feels like it has an upgrade to make, they usually make it. They felt that Langerhans and Alonzo were upgrades over Byrnes and Cockrell at this point. If they felt they had upgrades they could make at any other positions available right now then they’d do it. It’s simple.
When a team isn’t hitting shouldn’t the person who’s in charge of hitting is going to be let go. Yes, Cockrell fell victim of some major slumps but this logic still makes sense. Maybe it’s so simple that some people are looking into it too much. We wish Cockrell the best. He will land on his feet, continue to be a coach, and make more money than most of us while watching baseball.
I understand why both of these issues have been hot topics. I just think that they aren’t a big deal. I also think the organization has handled all the issues with this team the right way. They’ve tried to make improvements with what they have and they haven’t overreacted to anything. Sure, a trade for a bat would be nice but it just doesn’t seem like there’s many options right now.
So, hopefully the team gets back to winning and we can stop hearing about all of these minor stories that aren’t significant to a team’s on field performance. These are issues but minor ones and not reasons to overreact.