For years the Seattle Mariners organization has been patently planned by team execs to be a fan-friendly public-relations strategy waiting for a good baseball team to happen. The wait goes on.
At the home opener Monday (April 12), the org put out a pre-game P.R. initiative that couldn'êt have been a better eye-dabber had Abner Doubleday, Babe Ruth, and Kevin Costner shown up. But the presence of M's immortals Randy Johnson, Edgar Martinez, Jay Buhner, Dan Wilson, and Ken Griffey Jr. (to say nothing of myriad fans from what passes for the club's glory years) couldn'êt mask the obvious: This club doesn'êt score runs.
It needs to start. A buddy abruptly contradicted me during the bottom of the seventh of the 4-0 loss to Oakland when I suggested that the M'ês seem destined to place last in their division if the offense doesn'êt soon come alive (I didn'êt even reference the Milton Bradley over-play error that resulted in two A's runs). The buddy noted that "it's early yet."
Actually, after just eight games, it seems late yet. Against an A's starter with an earned-run average of 7.94, Seattle managed two hits for no runs through the first seven-and-a-third innings. The rest of the way the M's put up no runs on no hits. The closest the club came to applause opportunities: a pair of clouts by marquee guys Griffey and Ichiro that cleared the right-field fence a few feet foul.
Apologists are readily available. The story line by team flacks (which is to say, team announcers) prior to the game was that the M's have had to adjust to being away from Seattle a long time while wandering through the desert of spring training and opening with seven on the road. Lost in this "logic" is the reality that five big-league clubs (Minnesota, Toronto, the New York Yankees, Philadelphia and St. Louis) played the first week on the road and emerged with winning records.
Beyond that, ask yourself how much sympathy should be extended during a recession to people who make millions and have their daily needs met so that they can be ready to play a kids' game full-time.
Team officials, inevitably, are very apologetic about the 2-6 start.
"You see a lot of guys with their heads down a little bit," field boss Don Wakamatsu said to the press after the game.
Then he seemed to contradict himself by adding that "we'll keep our heads up."
It's obviously frustrating, then, for the M's so far as they're confronted with a kind of paradoxical coin flip: heads up you lose, heads down you lose.