What I missed
By Dave Grosby
You know it’s only been four months since I was last on the air and you wouldn’t have thought a whole lot can happen – or more specifically change – in such a short period. But as I look back I realized a ton happened, not just nationally or locally, but both. So lets start with…
The Mariners. My last time on air was early April, when all things were possible. Despite a tough spring on some levels the Mariners were certainly eager to start year two of the Jack Z-Wak era. Four months later it’s a pile of smoky ruins, having imploded in such a quick and spectacular fashion as to defy belief. In fact, it’s impossible to imagine both Dr. Z and Wak coming back next year, a circumstance that was really unimaginable when the year started. Wakamatsu was hung out to dry by management over the Figgens deal. You saw what happened afterward. The entire team is lost and the Mariners recently wrapped up one of the worst months in the history. Figgins never apologized and it took weeks for management to back Wakamatsu. It was the true end of this season.
The Griffey disaster is what got this going so bad so fast. Junior is beloved by fans, teammates and his family. That’s about it. He never should have been brought back. Great players know when it’s time to walk away. In retrospect, they should have given up the ghost during Spring Training, but that was too tough. In fact, the day they had him re-sign was the day this season ended. Once Griffey showed he was done he didn’t do anyone any favors and the napping story was a sad way to go out. However, any other person wouldn’t have just quit and called on the phone when they were 300 miles away and never responded to inquiries about setting up a day for a return. Griffey gets to act like an jerk. He’s earned it and he did just that.
As the manager has clearly lost the team it will be difficult to bring Wakamatsu back. For whatever reason these guys don’t play for him anymore. But Jack Z needs to stay as far as I’m concerned. I have no doubt this year humbled most of the M’s talent evaluators. They simply whiffed on almost every decision this year. A word about Chuck and Howard, whom everyone seems to blame for not winning. These guys made one unjustifiable decision in my opinion over the years and that was letting Lou Piniella go. Otherwise there were very few people who were against the moves these guys made at the time.
Let’s review. After firing Lou they brought in Bob Melvin. Melvin was cut loose after two seasons, losing 30 more games in his second year and losing his veteran team (sound familiar?) They then lost GM Pat Gillick, a previous great hire. They replaced him with Bill Bavasi, a move just about everyone extolled. They brought in the man widely considered at the time to be the best manager available in Mike Hargrove, another move applauded by most. Well it turned out Hargrove had retired before he took the job and Bavasi appeared to have no idea what he was doing. Then Hargrove quit and they decided to try and replant the Piniella tree by letting John McLaren take over. It was a move that most liked since the Piniella days were so successful, but it didn’t work. Bavasi’s firing was followed by bringing in a very well thought of baseball man who hired Wakamatsu and had a great 2009. Howard and Chuck usually let the baseball people make the decisions, like smart management should. The guys they picked were all relatively popular choices. I don’t think they’ve done that bad and I blame the guys who came here and played like crap more then those who picked them. It’s just so frankly depressing that this year fell apart. It’s back to the drawing board for the hometown nine. Byt the way, there is one trend I’d like to see reversed. Payroll has gone down four years in a row. Its still up there but I’m just saying. Which brings us to…
The Seahawks. Let’s start with the good. At least Pete Carroll and company are changing the culture of the team and not pretending, like the last two years, that this was a good team with bad luck. It’s been a bad team, a real bad team for two years running. I like the roster turnover. Unfortunately that’s about it early on. Let me say one thing. Unless there is some sort of Mariner-like collapse and John Carlson tries to punch out Carroll, this year determines NOTHING. You cannot in my opinion decide anything after one year. Carroll is the third coach in three years. The team is in a bit of disarray and sorry Seahawks fans, if you have any brains you will suck it up and realize that this year is going to be a struggle. I hope appearances are deceiving, because the Seahawks appear to be an organization in shambles after the departure of Tod Leiweke, the biggest loss to this sports community outside the Sonics in the last 20 years. Leiweke was the master marketer, the man behind nearly every feel-good aspect of the Qwest Field experience. His loss will be felt acutely for years and in more places then Qwest Field. (I predict his loss will mean the end of the Boeing Classic after this year, for example). He wasn’t a football guy so it doesn’t impact there. But it sure didn’t feel good. As for Pete, will he be any good? History says the odds are against him. But let’s at least give the man a chance…for more than one year!
The Rest. I predict the LeBron James situation guarantees a lock-out next season. I don’t think the league has ever looked worse. Guys like James Dolan are never going to allow a situation like that to happen again. Have you ever seen a guy damage his image more but not technically doing anything wrong like James did?
Did you notice we went through our first MLS player ‘divorce’? So long Freddie. It was interesting. You love the guy and then suddenly it doesn’t seem to be working. The Sounders won five straight after he stopped playing before they traded him. I think they make the playoffs.
In the meantime the Storm’s march to the WNBA title seems inevitable. Has that ever been the case in our fair city?
How can college football continue to pretend they give a damn about anything but money? We should stop accepting the bowl games and demand a championship at this point. After this summer’s cash grab how can they pretend they actually care about tests? C’mon! College football as we know it nearly ended this summer. Had there been a 16-team Pac-10 within one month you would have had four super conferences who frankly would not need the NCAA, networks or bowl games anymore. That’s why the networks, the NCAA and bowl games talked Texas out of it.
Well I’m caught up I think, should make getting back on the air go smoother. I’m going to bring back the video and audio blogs after this, starting with my 50th birthday in Vegas. For me it’s the chance at a career rebirth with Chris Cashman. The feeling here at 710 ESPN Seattle is what it’s suppose to be. I am so excited to be a part of it.