Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.
August 11, 2008 10:16 AM
Posted by Geoff Baker
"I don't care if we are 40 games behind, we should have played better than this,'' Silva said. "For me, every game is important. For me, if we are where we are right now, we should take it one game at a time and play one day at a time. Thinking 'We've got to win this game'. And when the day is over 'We've got to win the next one.' ''
-- Carlos Silva after Friday's game
"It was a total team letdown, starting with myself right on down...We all had a real direct hand in that loss."
--Jim Riggleman after Saturday's game
"It's something that's biting us way too often.''
-- Riggleman before Sunday's game on team's lack of execution
"Today we took a step backwards. We played a real bad ballgame."
-- Riggleman after Sunday's game
Ah, aren't Monday mornings grand? For some of you who haven't figured it out, it was Larry Stone writing yesterday. I haven't been "on'' since Carlos Silva came forward to speak on Friday night. But have followed the highly-predictable aftermath of his comments with great interest. To me, it seems the biggest crime Silva committed was being a day or two ahead of his manager in his public observations. Oh yeah, and the fact that he's packing on some extra pounds. Other than that, Silva didn't voice anything that anyone following this team -- more importantly, actually watching it play -- hadn't already wondered. The hair-splitting I've seen over his "padding stats" comments is just that. Hair-splitting. Silva's message was a simple one. It's one the Mariners have been accused of since way back in April. Not bringing their "A game" day-in, day-out. They haven't. So, what's the problem?
This was a team expected to contend for the post-season. Or, for those of you who "predicted" that the offense would falter, at least a team expected to play around .500 ball. It has done neither. Why are so many so quick to let it off the hook? Silva isn't. Nor should he be. This team, the way it has played all year long, is an absolute disgrace. It is perhaps the worst team in baseball. And the reason is that so many players, individually and collectively, have failed to meet either their career or computer-projected norms. So, what's wrong with Silva noticing?
Remember "White Line Fever"? The line Bill Bavasi used to describe players who couldn't get the job done once they crossed the lines of the playing field? As Bavasi noted, there's a difference between playing hard and playing smart. You can play hard, but if you keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again, it becomes an issue of needing to play smarter. To focus on making the right plays in certain situations. On executing when the situation arises. Are the Mariners focused on playing the game right? On bringing their "A game" each and every night? I don't know how anyone watching the games can make that argument. This team has been one of baseball's worst when it comes to getting the runner home from third base with fewer than two out. Also one of the game's worst when it comes to allowing harmless looking grounders to "sneak through" the infield. At failing to make routine plays, like throwing the ball to first base after a tough snag of a grounder. Or covering the bag on a steal attempt. Or hitting the cutoff man so runners don't move up an extra base.
There have been far too many physical and mental lapses all year long. Silva is just fed up. Was he the right guy to be voicing complaints? Well, in theory, no. A guy with a 4-13 record and an ERA up near 6.00 should not have to be the one coming forward. There is a risk his message will be lost amongst the howling masses looking for any reason to discredit the substance of what he is saying. Unfortunately...acutally, fortunately for the people who need defending, when you get into journalism, it's your job to look past things like that, or issues like a pitcher's weight, or fan popularity, and get into the substance of what a guy actually says. So, Silva might have a bad record. Might not look the way some of you feel a pitcher's body ought to look. Nor be as popular as Ichiro, or Raul Ibanez, or Adrian Beltre. But that doesn't invalidate what he has to say.