They say, life ain’t fair.
I guess baseball isn’t either.
Today, Don Wakamatsu, was fired as the manager of the Seattle Mariners …
I know how it works. When a team loses as many games as the M’s have, you can’t fire the whole team, and the manager is the one who is ultimately responsible for the team’s performance.
Doesn’t make it right.
Doesn’t make it fair.
I mean, there are just a FEW extenuating circumstances here…
- an aging, future HoF’er as the DH to start the season who should have retired as he was carried off the field by teammates and cheered by adoring fans after the last game of 2009 but instead decided to quit in the middle of the season and seemingly leave a rift in the clubhouse something akin to the parting of the Red Sea
- a starting left fielder (better suited to DH) also no spring chicken, who had demons to exorcise that had nothing to do with this team, yet they took him under their wing in a commendable show of support
- another ‘elderly’ one who was great in the clubhouse and who tore it up in spring, but suffered from a balky back … and, how many DH/1B types can one team use?
- a FA third baseman switching to second base (because the regular 2-bagger had limited range), not to mention second in the batting order, having a career worst year and taking it out on his manager in a very public display of insubordination
- one catcher not ready-for-prime-time and another fresh off two hip surgeries, one wrist surgery
- the regular second baseman switching to third base and, while the transition seemed to go OK defensively, his offense dropped off the map (and, he wasn’t the only one … the entire starting line up (as of mid-July) was hitting anywhere from 7-67points below their career average.
Those are just a few of the issues that faced Wak … one or two?
Everything at once? Not a chance.
Many say Wak wasn’t tough enough, didn’t show enough fire …
Well, there were the “tie rules” and early indications last season that “slackers” would not be tolerated. This year he was tossed three time (after 2009 where there was only one ejection all season – Ichiro) in support of his players, but he also, again, reiterated the necessity for effort.
I guess what hurts the most is the death of hope …
From the beginning of his tenure, I was impressed with Don’s story, with his demeanor
and that famed ‘belief system’. I really thought, “they have finally found their leader.”
Needless to say, I’m very sad to see him go …
While he doesn’t need my pity, he certainly has my heartfelt gratitude for what he attempted to accomplish with this organization. I hope that he learned a lot and had some fun along the way despite the undesirable ending. I’ve no doubt he will manage again someday and, when he does, I’ll be rooting for him to succeed and I will always remember his calm and sincere presence in the dugout and behind the podium and will try not to dwell on “what could have been”.