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

May 17, 2008 at 10:06 AM

A team that loses together

I’ll make this short and sweet. I’m off this weekend, having covered plenty of games consecutively the past two weeks and facing more on the road this coming week. Some of you have, snidely as usual, written in that you want to see me lambaste Miguel Batista for not standing up and facing the music after helping his team lose last night. Not sure why some of you want to make this an issue. You yawned when it came up with Erik Bedard this spring, leaped to the defense of Felix Hernandez this week and now have it with Batista. Why are you all so surprised? I’m not. If a 22-year-old can brush off hard-working media relations employees asking him to show some accountability, why should a 37-year-old veteran have to go out of his way? Hey, this is the team some of you asked for. Judge them on performance, you said. OK, here goes: Batista’s performance stinks. It stank last night and has continued to stink for much of the season. He is letting his team down.
How do other teams react to this? One of you pointed out what’s going on with Billy Wagner and the New York Mets. Wagner called out his teammates in New York for ducking post-game interviews and leaving it to him and others to stand up in their place.
“Somebody tell me why the…the closer is being interviewed and I didn’t even play,” he said, appearing to motion to the empty lockers of Carlos Delgado and Carlos Beltran. “Why are they over there and not being interviewed? Oh, I’ve got it. They’re gone … shocker.”
Wagner apologized on Friday, the day after his remarks. But the intention behind what he said was clear. Paul Lo Duca had similar criticisms last year when he was the Mets’ catcher. Neither enjoys teammates leaving it to him to answer for them. They expect to see some accountability, not to the media, but to them. To the team. Remember, the team concept? No individuals leaving others to clean up their mess? That is what Wagner has said in a rare unveiling of what goes on behind the scenes on a baseball club. This is how teams think. Anyone who’s hung around a major league team for any length of time knows this. They don’t like players leaving them to face the music for them. The San Francsico Giants could not stand this about Barry Bonds towards the end of his stint. But that’s the extreme example. Much smaller episodes can irk just as much within a clubhouse. I’ve seen it before. Good teams stand behind one another. Very few ballplayers like teammates who pull this stuff. I’ve talked to Mariners who do not like this. But who knows? Maybe it is OK for Mariners to do this. After all, who the heck is Carlos Delgado, or Carlos Beltran anyway? What did their franchise do in 2001?
All I can say is, Felix Hernandez and Erik Bedard have two days to turn this team around. No more seeing pitchers bury their squad before a game is even three innings old. Or else, this team had better get prepared to hit the road and face a season with far more losses than anyone — you, me, USS Mariner, Lookout Landing, Detect-O-Vision — ever dreamed possible. This whole facing the media thing is only a small part of what’s going on with this club. But for me, it’s pretty indicative of a larger problem and why this team can’t seem to mesh as a unit. If you can’t stand up for one another off the field, how in the heck is a group of guys going to do it — get all facets of the game working at the same time — on the field?
Go ahead. Let’s hear you thoughts.

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