'êI thought this one was cut and dried."
So said a subdued Don Wakamatsu during the Seattle Mariners field boss's post-game remarks Friday (July 23).
The phrase has several meanings but the use was unambiguous in this case. It was a reference to the apparent lack of effort on the part of Chone Figgins during the fifth inning of the M's 2-1 loss to Boston. Michael Saunders had tossed one off target from left field as Red Sox center-fielder Mike Cameron cruised toward second for what appeared to be an easy double. Figgins seemed to make no effort to try to field the errant throw and Cameron took third base.
When his players came back to the dugout Wak pulled Figgins. The struggling second-sacker then appeared to elevate the dugout confrontation to a shoving match, with several players involved. TV viewers may have seen the altercation on the late news. I saw it after 10 then looked at the footage online several times a few hours later.
More ambiguous than the phrase "cut and dried" was Wakamatsu'ês quick "uh, no" to the question about whether Figgins would be suspended because of the transgression.
Perhaps fans of the struggling 37-60 ballclub have seen a pattern during this Stephen King novel of a season. Certain marquee players, upon failing to meet expectations, have taken unilateral drastic measures. For Milton Bradley it meant having an early-season sabbatical to deal with emotional challenges. With Ken Griffey Jr. it was the abrupt calling of it "a career" and, a la Mike Hargrove, driving off into the sunrise.
Figgy instead got "physy" with it. Even though, as I write this, Figgins apparently has not had his obligatory sit-down with Wakamatsu and General Manager Jack Zduriencik (in Tacoma during the dugout confrontation), Wak, here again, has uttered "uh, no" to the notion that a suspension might be in order.
One wonders, then, what the above three have to talk about. Recently reacquired Russell Branyan already seems to have played peacemaker. After having been part of the shove-fest, Branyan asserted himself as a liaison by having a heart-to-heart with Figgins as the latter watched the rest of the game on TV in the locker room.
Maybe Jack says: 'êFiggy, back up those plays and don'êt shove in the dugout anymore. Wak, leave Figgy in games if he backs up those plays and doesn'êt shove anymore."
Observers, of course, won't be privy to what goes on behind the closed door of someone's office. On the record the G.M. probably will say what he and seemingly every other member of the organization has been voicing since signs for a bright '10 season grew dim mid-spring:
'êEverybody here is just trying to win ballgames."
Not to belabor what was implicit in a posting here about Figgins a few days ago, but it's pretty clear not "everybody" is trying. When Figgins had his . . . let's call them "lapses" in the fifth inning, his club was tied and, with stellar lefty Jason Vargas on the mound, had at least a theoretical chance to win. Figgins' . . . lapses didn'êt result in any runs scored. But his reaction to being pulled was at best unprofessional.
At worst it was cause for suspension but, here again, the answer to that is "uh no," so for now it seems pretty much, uh, cut and dried.