A look above at Miguel Batista, running the steps here at Safeco Field (he’s still doing it as I post this) as part of his between-starts routine. Some of you asked me this morning whether I’m being too hard on the team. Whether the M’s improved play the past few games (and snaring grounders instead of letting them bounce into the outfield) was more a result of luck turning their way after being totally against them as it had been in recent weeks.
No, I don’t believe that.
I refuse to believe that all of that “luck” just miraculously happened to shift in Seattle’s favor the day after GM Bill Bavasi called out the players for not getting on each other about their accepted level of play. And precisely one day after Carlos Silva suggested this team would look a whole lot different if every player played hard every single inning of every single game.
My tolerance for coincidences goes only so far.
So, nope. Sorry, I’m not buying that. I believe that teams make their own luck. Believe that when they play hard all the time, they will inevitably make more plays than they miss. And it’s not as if luck has totally shifted Seattle’s way. Yuniesky Betancourt nearly cost his team the game a few nights ago by flubbing one ground ball that led directly to three Boston runs.
But you play hard, you can overcome that.
So, again, no, I’m not buying the “luck” excuse. This is what I meant last week when I wrote that I find plenty of fans, bloggers and some media (but not all) in Seattle to be too soft on the players in general. Many of you wrote in to ask what I was talking about and this is it. No one likes to criticize their favorite players. Media members know they won’t have an easy time in the clubhouse if they criticize the 25 guys they face every day. It’s always easier to target the manager and GM, who you don’t see as much all the time. And we’ve written that both John McLaren and Bill Bavasi have made mistakes this year and could lose their jobs because of it.
But enough is enough. These players did not magically get “luck” to bounce their way 24 hours after they were called out in public for not playing hard or getting on each other about it. Not after losing the way they did for two solid months. This team hasn’t won three in a row since April. It’s almost June. The road trip last week did not happen in isolation. It was the cherry on the sundae of bad play the M’s had shown for weeks on end. The final straw. This has not been a good team all year. You can use code words like playing “clean” baseball and stuff. They have not played “good” baseball. They have played “bad” baseball. And I do not think they played particularly “hard” baseball until this week.
So, if some of you want to excuse it away to “luck” you can do so. But I won’t. If you still think I’m wrong, still believe in coincidences, then we can respectfully disagree. And playing “hard” during games has nothing to do with working “hard” off the field. Some M’s, like Batista above, work very hard away from the field. But you still have to put it all together on the field. This is a results-based business.
So, I hope that answers some of your questions.
May 30, 2008 at 3:34 PM