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Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

March 29, 2007 at 10:29 AM

Accountability matters

This is it, folks, my final day down here in Peoria. Our intrepid Greg Bishop, award-winning, multi-faceted writer extraordinaire, will be taking over in Las Vegas on the weekend. He swears it’s all about the baseball. I will rejoin you for Opening Day on Monday and bring you the type of stuff you’ve come to expect.
What we in the biz come to expect from teams is accountability. When we don’t get it — and you, the fans don’t get it by extension — people hear about it. Well, that theory works both ways. Nobody is perfect, including us in the media. So, in the spirit of some last day fun, let’s take a look at all the less than perfect moments in this space over the past seven weeks. Now, this won’t include things I’ve already corrected online. Plenty of you have written in to point out some errors and omissions. I’ve tried to correct them quickly, but here’s some fun stuff (for you, anyway) that slipped through the cracks.
We’ll start with the score of yesterday’s game. It was 11-8, not 12-8 as I had in a notebook column in our newspaper pages today. Hey, it’s only the most important thing we have to get right. Then, there was this Feb. 20 dispatch, also in the regular newspaper pages:

Although the Mariners don’t have tremendous bench strength, the odds of Ordonez landing a spot seem as remote as they get.

You know something? I’m really glad I was probably wrong about that. Somehow, it just feels good. Other stuff? Doesn’t feel as great in hindsight. In our Feb. 22 blog, I wrote the following:

Spots 1-thru-4 appear set in stone and will be as follows:
1. Ichiro
2. Adrian Beltre
3. Raul Ibanez
4. Richie Sexson

Hmmm. Hopefully, no houses were built on that stone. Need some advice on the backup catching situation? I tried to give it on March 19:

Do I see Rivera getting sent to the minors and Burke staying? No. Rivera has been catching Felix Hernandez for several years now in both the minors and the majors and I don’t see the team messing with that.

Well, unless the plan is for Hernandez to pitch in Class AA this season, I suppose they’ve messed with that combo.
Here’s another gem from March 19:

The way I see it, the team will employ a seven-man bullpen. Here’s how I see it shaking down as of right now. This could change at the back-end by April 2, especially if Putz doesn’t make it for Opening Day. But for now, we’ll stick with:
RHP J.J. Putz
RHP Chris Reitsma
RHP Julio Mateo
LHP George Sherrill
LHP Arthur Rhodes
RHP Jon Huber
LHP Jake Woods

Got the seven-man thing and the first five names right. But the way it’s looking now — and the way I wrote it in today’s paper — the last two names should be replaced by Brandon Morrow and Sean White. If that changes by tomorrow, just put another black mark beside the name of yours truly.
Having fun yet? Here’s another beaut from March 22 on where Horacio Ramirez would slot in the starting rotation:

If we go by the normal four days of rest routine, the minor league contest would be on a Sunday, leaving him set to pitch on April 6 in Cleveland (the team has an off-day on the 5th).
In other words, guess who the fifth starter is? Not much of a surprise to anyone paying attention. The only reason I mention it is because the team still says it might flop around the order of the back three guys in the rotation. Thing is, if Ramirez pitches a minor league game here, without short rest, he has to be the fifth starter. There you go, a little news.

Yes indeed, some great news. Especially to the Mariners, who had other ideas planned for Ramirez. Best thing, besides my poor math skills in counting off-days facing Ramirez and a potential Cleveland start, was digging an even deeper hole on March 23:

In case his words yesterday weren’t enough of a hint that Horacio Ramirez will be the No. 5 starter, Hargrove mentioned today that part of his consideration of who would fill that job is the mental ability of that player to handle the assignment. In other words, whose ego can take the blow the best?

Turns out it wasn’t Ramirez’s ego, as I went on to suggest, but Jeff Weaver’s. Oops!
Then, there’s Sean White, a terrific guy from the Seattle area. Good thing he doesn’t read this space all too often. Or, if he does, he hasn’t let it affect his pitching. Here’s a great nugget from two days ago, 24 hours before I suggested he’d likely make the club.

I guess my point remains the same, that the guys the Mariners can afford to bring north are the ones I’ve mentioned and that only Mateo, Rhodes and Morrow are getting the job done consistently. I’ve spoken plenty with White down here and would love to see him head north. I just don’t think it’s going to happen because of the Rule 5 issue.

Ah yes, predictions. Wonderful, aren’t they? We’ll be making a lot more of them in coming days. Here’s a sneak peak at mine: Mariners third in AL West. Angels to win the World Series. Clip and save. Then, let me hear about it in October.
Regular season almost here!
Perhaps it’s bad karma to do a column like this, but another mistake I made, this one not so humorous, was pointed out to me just after I wrote this blog today. It involves a newspaper story I wrote yesterday about Mariners minor leaguer Chris Minaker, whose honors thesis at Stanford was about the pressures athletes there feel to take peroformance enhancing supplements.
The survey taken by Minaker asked athletes about the substances they had taken. Only one question — the one on steroids — asked them solely about the pressure they had felt to take that substance. Not whether they took them or not. Nine of 89 athletes, including five baseball players, admitted they had felt pressure to take steroids. This is obviously different from those same athletes admitting they took steroids, as I wrote in my story.
Minaker has no idea whether or not those nine athletes actually succumbed to the pressure to take steroids. For that, I am sorry, both to him and to Stanford. More to him, because the last thing I wanted to do was diminish the importance of the work he did. My reason for writing this wasn’t to expose steroid-takers at any university, which is why we buried that part lower down in the story. I am more interested in the broader angles explored by Minaker and his conclusions that problems exist in his own sport. That hasn’t changed because of my misinterpretation of the results he garnered.
As for Stanford, if I was a local paper covering that university, I’d want to know what the school has done about the issues Minaker raised. Has it tried to find out whether any of its athletes succumbed to the steroid pressure they told Minaker about? I’d be interested to read about whether the school has looked into Minaker’s claim that the Stanford football team “is shrouded in a cloud of secrecy regarding their supplement use.”
These aren’t questions that should go away simply because of what I wrote. I’ve admitted my mistake. But there’s a bigger issue here. And as I wrote up top this morning, accountability is a two-way street.



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