Time to market this one before Mike Sweeney gets the t-shirts made. Sweeney has come up with a name for the M’s squad of reservists, many of whom have played key roles on this 5-3 road trip. The Mariners head into today with a chance to do something never done before in franchise history — sweep the Red Sox at Fenway Park.
And the “L. Ben Show” team of reservists has had plenty to do with it. Sweeney has toyed with the name — pronounced “El Bencho” (ha, ha!) since spring training. But now, with the reservists seeing the lion’s share of playing time for an M’s squad just 2 1/2 games out of first place, he’s about to get the t-shirts made.
The toughest part is figuring out who’s on the L.Ben Show team and who isn’t.
Witness this exchange yesterday between Sweeney and Ronny Cedeno, who has been the starting shortstop on this trip.
“Hey, Ronny, there’s a Team L. Ben Show meeting in 15 minutes,” Sweeney said.
“I’m not on that team,” Cedeno said.
“Who do you think you are, Kobe Bryant now?”
“I’m not on the bench,” Cedeno said, good naturedly.
“You might be an honorary member in a couple of weeks if you keep this up,” Sweeney said.
Anyhow, the list also includes current starting third baseman Chris Woodward, infielder Josh Wilson, left fielder Wladimir Balentien and…we’re not sure with the catchers.
Heck, if this team somehow makes the playoffs, those t-shirts could reall become a hit.
Spoke to L. Ben Show member Woodward today about that catch he made of the near-errant Garrett Olson rundown throw in yesterday’s sixth inning. Remember, Woodward had to fully extend and move quickly to his right to snare the ball and tag the runner.
“I knew that if I caught the ball we’d get the runner no problem,” he said. “Garrett made the right play going to third. I’m just glad he had the presence of mind to throw the ball there because the runner was already headed back to the base. But I knew we had time to get him.”
Woodward did indeed, as i suspected yesterday, play basketball in high school.
“It was probably my favorite sport,” he said. “But I was better at baseball. I still love to play recreationally all the time, though.”
He’s a shooting guard.
Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said this morning that he credits the improved club house environment, led by guys like Sweeney and Ken Griffey Jr., for enabling the Mariners to hit the literal halfway mark of their schedule withing striking distance of the division lead.
“It’s the little things I think you see,” he said. “You heard about in the paper yesterday about (Boston reliever Takashi) Saito’s comments about getting overly emotional. And I think, with a strong support group, I think this team has had short-term memory. When guys go out and struggle, there’s somebody there for them. And to be able to just stay consistent is, I think , the biggest thing. That you’re just going to come to the ballpark, work as hard as yuou can and play the game. I think when you get outside of those boundaries is where I think you can go awry in a sense. And I think we’ve stayed pretty constant.”