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

May 27, 2008 at 6:11 AM

Who is accountable?

Lots of comments around town about the fact John McLaren gets to keep managing the Mariners — for now. After all, when a team that was expected to at least contend this season, by the folks running it, if not some bloggers, loses seven in a row, that is not a sign of job security for a manager. Any manager. Other markets have far less tolerance for the field boss than does Seattle.
Over in New York, the status of manager Willie Randolph is daily tabloid fodder. And the Mets are only a handful of games under .500. So, two markets, each with a team spending more than $100 million and hoping to contend.
One of them is a modest winning streak away from being above .500. The other team is 16 games below .500 and owner of the worst record in the majors.
And yet, it is the second of those teams, the one in Seattle, whose manager gets the first vote of confidence.
Interesting. I’m not saying it’s the wrong move. But somebody is to blame for this mess. Ultimately, Bill Bavasi will have to take full responsibility for putting this group together. It doesn’t matter that I also thought he had built a contender. When you guess wrong, after five years of trying with a payroll this big, expecting a sixth season is a bit presumptuous.
But again, that’s not the immediate concern.
The prime worry should be getting this team to win again. Who is being held accountable for this disaster? If not McLaren, then, as I wrote on Friday, somebody else must be. If the team’s ownership and management truly does believe this is not “a field managerial issue”, then it has to not only point fingers at the players (as was done) but actually do something about it. As far as I can see, the same lineup keeps being trotted out night after night. The pieces get moved around a little. But in the end, it amounts to the same roster. That’s a weak stance to take. If you’re going to blame, you have to make some moves.
The encouraging sign I’ve seen in this team is two consecutive competitive games. No, that isn’t much. Not for an expected contender. But it beats the five previous uncompetitive games it played. All this talk about the team “playing hard every day” that came before the past two contests was a little ridiculous. Anyone who’s watched the past two days of play can clearly see an upturn in the defense. A seeming increase in the intensity level. The past two days amounted to playing hard. The previous five were a joke.
I wrote last week that thopse types of games tend to get managers fired. One game. Not five in a row. The manager did not get fired. Blame was placed on the players. So far, no one has paid a price.
That’s a disturbing sign of a lack of accountability within this organization. It’s one thing to talk tough. Another to back up your words. It’s appaling to me that this team was allowed to embarrass itself for five consecutive days without any consequences. And it wasn’t just me who noticed. The entire New York press corps universally agreed that the first two games of the series at Yankee Stadium was the worst they had seen a team play back-to-back this season.
Seven in a row? Sixteen games under? Two competitive games after a five-day joke? And no heads rolling anywhere, on the field or off?
That’s the symbol of complacency. That is not an organization dedicated to winning.

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