Sports

100 losses for M's?

Something especially scary greeted fans when the Seattle Mariners started their latest home stand, and not just because the inter-league game against the Washington Nationals was on Friday the 13th. Due to a coincidence of hard times in the financial and batting industries, the M’s management was stuck with a promotional event with Washington Mutual sponsoring a giveaway of Adrian Beltre bobbleheads. The significance: Beltre was coming off a 1-22 week, his batting average dropping to .222, the baseball equivalent of the nadir reached by WaMu stock last week.

Nobody wanted any of this. OK, maybe execs for the division-rival Angels, A’s and Rangers don’t mind it, but beyond that it’s safe to say no one from Marinerland is reveling about the prospect of this becoming the worst-ever season for a team that many (this observer included) thought would contend for the playoffs. As I write this prior to the inter-league home stand against Washington and Florida, the M’s project to 59 and 103: within a rank whiff of their worst season ever. A few lame attempts have been made to ameliorate the season. The ineffective batting coach, Jeff Pentland, was dispatched in the middle of the Boston-Toronto road trip. It didn’t cause the players to improve their hitting skills, but at least the front office acknowledged that personnel changes are warranted. Some are waiting for General Manager Bill Bavasi to walk the plank as a penalty for assembling such an unproductive team. Unfortunately, M’s management seems resistant to any kind of major change. The effect is that Bavasi almost would have to throw himself over the side.

Meanwhile, field boss John McLaren faced another good news/bad news priority with his pitching staff. Last year’s sensation in the closer role, J.J. Putz, remains shaky, needing to be replaced by Brandon Morrow with none out in the ninth on June 11. That was the bad news. The good: Morrow, who throws 100 miles an hour, closed down the Blue Jays. Putz was found to have a hyper-extended elbow, leaving him on the sidelines as the home stand commenced.

But there was hope for Seattle partisans and it came in threes. First, the M’s won their road finale, 2-1 against Toronto, to go 3-3 against the Jays and Red Sox. Second, Beltre came to bat late in the getaway game and didn’t make an out (he walked).

Third? After hitting an all-time low on June 9, WaMu stock actually rose about 7 percent the next day. It’s still down about 50 percent for the year as, alas, is Adrian Beltre’s offensive production. Hey, but the bobblehead looks terrific.

Mike Henderson is a sports Columnist for the Reporter.

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