While Don Wakamatsu and his fired coaches no doubt spent a distressful night wondering where the heck it all went wrong, life went on at Safeco Field.
The Mariners turned their first triple play since 1995, got Doug Fister his first win since May 14, and handed interim manager Daren Brown a victory in his first game as a major-league manager.
I feel badly for Wakamatsu, a genuinely good guy who was dealt a very bad hand. And I feel badly for Rick Adair and Ty Van Burkleo, who went down with the ship, along with Steve Hecht. But you can’t help but feel good for Brown, a minor-league lifer who is going to get a seven-week taste of big-league managing.
For Brown, the night ended with him being wheeled in a laundry cart into the shower room, where the players toasted his first win with a beer bath. Lots of whoops and laughter could be heard emanating from the distance, and everyone emerged with big smiles.
That doesn’t mean they don’t feel badly for Wakamatsu, too — most (but probably not all) do. But the game goes on. And I don’t doubt that some tension was lifted with Wakamatsu’s departure. The air of uncertainty that has hung over the team could be suffocating at times. Brown is a familiar face to many players on the team. By my rough count, 17 of the 25 players on the roster had been managed by Brown in the minor leagues at some point.
“Obviously, for the first one for me, that’s how you want to draw it up,” Brown said.
Weary from having flown all day from Omaha, but running on adrenaline, he said the most relaxing part of the day was after the National Anthem. It hit him in the first inning that he was actually managing a major-league game, a lifelong ambition. But there was no time to wallow in emotion; he had a game to run. The toughest decision, Brown said, was lifting Fister after six innings. The best moment was easy: the triple play.
“Someone said it was our first one 1995. I’d say we were due to have one,” he said.
I don’t think anyone expects Brown to get the job permanently, but you never know. It’s not unprecedented. Dave Trembley, for instance, was named Orioles manager on an interim basis when he replaced fired Sam Perlozzoin June of 2007. Eventually, the interim tag was removed, and Trembley managed two full seasons before being fired earlier this year.
Who knows what lies ahead for Brown? More than likely, after Oct. 3 against the A’s, his Mariner managerial stint will be over. But for one night, it was a dream fulfilled.