This almost feels like the SATs. As in ‘blank is to blank, as blank is to blank.’ Work with me here, but Don Wakamatsu’s managing performance is to the Seattle Mariners’ struggles this year as Michelle Obama’s trip to Spain is to America’s economic and foreign policy struggles this year.
Wakamatsu was one of the hottest managers in Major League Baseball last season. Defying the odds, a rebuilding effort in Seattle turned into a team that won games consistently and made very few physical and mental errors. Unfortunately, it didn’t last and this year has been an abject failure of epic proportions. Worst team – ever. And Wakamatsu is a reasonable scapegoat. He’s someone to hammer on. He’s a great object of scorn on talk radio because it’s simple.
On the front that really matters, banks won’t lend, the war in Afghanistan is a mess, and, as the Wall Street Journal reported Monday, about 4.4 million Americans have been looking for jobs for at least a year. That doesn’t count the poor souls who have decided to give up (also not a small number). Thankfully, Michelle Obama took an extravagant trip to Spain. She’s a perfect scapegoat. She’s someone to hammer on. She’s a great object of scorn on talk radio because it’s simple.
Not to say Wakamatsu and The First Lady are blameless. Wakamatsu is ultimately responsible for a pathetic hitting, infuriatingly error-prone, lackluster team that appears more pathetic everyday. Somehow, on Sunday, the Mariners almost lost to the Royals (it’s a miracle they didn’t) because Casey Kotchman got picked off first base, a bizarre suicide-squeeze ended an inning (with the Mariners’ most productive hitter at the plate), and David Aardsma gave up another ninth inning run in between managing to get three outs. On the Mrs. Obama front, her excursion will cost taxpayers about a $1 million and it was a terribly stupid trip to take.
Ultimately though, is it Don Wakamatsu’s fault that Chone Figgins is hitting like garbage (until recently) and Jose Lopez sucks? No, not really. Similarly, is it The First Lady’s fault that Hamid Karzai is turning into a nightmare in Afghanistan and the private sector is reluctant to hire new employees? No, not really. It is easier for Americans and Mariners fans to think that, though.
On June 9, I wrote about the necessity for the Mariners to move their tradable assets because the playoffs were beyond their reach. After a horrid weekend against the worst team, statistically, in the American League, it appears the organization and Mariners fans are finally coming around.
Usually, a title such as the one above suggests the team identified in it is an absolute juggernaut who will be difficult to stop. In this case, take it literally, as in, “Please, let’s be reasonable and break this team up, Mr. Zduriencik.” Now that management, the city and our beloved sports columnists (note: the sarcasm is dripping from my fingers) have realized this team will finish with another 80-90 losses, let’s get started and remake this team in the image of its GM.