It’s believed by some that the remaining legions of gleeful Seattle Mariners fans met this morning, filling up four adjacent tables at a local coffee shop to revel about the prospect of the M’s hiring one of five men said to be in line for the perennial 30th-best field-boss job in baseball.
Some of the names on the list are fairly well known. Bobby Valentine, for example, has distinguished himself as the leading big-league candidate for anger-management intervention now that Lou Piniella has retired to a life of stomping golf caps in sand traps while double-bogeying up courses throughout central Florida.
The other familiar name: Cecil Cooper. He was a great player for Boston and Milwaukee but has been a nearly perfectly mediocre manager at 171-170.
In fact, the combined win-loss records of the candidates (John Gibbons, Lloyd McClendon, and Eric Wedge are the others) believed by Mariner execs to comprise a Fab Five is 2490-2566. Mind you, that works out to about 49 percent, which obviously would translate to a great upgrade for a club that went 61-101 this season. At .490 percent the M’s would’ve gone a whopping 79-83, only missing the playoffs by a dozen or so games.
So it can’t be said that M’s execs Howard Lincoln, Chuck Armstrong, and Jack Zduriencik aren’t aiming, if not high, at least higher.
Alas, it ain’t by much. Don “Walk-the-Plank” Wakamatsu, dismissed midseason as the team stumbled to a 42-70 start, has a career winning mark of 46 percent, 3 points better than McClendon.
Lost, perhaps, in talk about a new field boss is the notion that Sparky Anderson in his prime might not have made more than five wins of difference with the talent-challenged ’10 M’s. Conversely, a case could be made that the 1975 Cincinnati Reds could’ve had Sparky’s dog as manager and still been transcendent.
If nothing else (and aside from Felix and Ichiro there wasn’t really anything else), the M’s were consistently awful. After the departure of Wakamatsu (his record this year was .375), Daren Brown came up from Tacoma to watch the timid team finish 19-31, a .380 mark.
The club’s dozens of ardent fans, then, are eagerly awaiting not so much an announcement about a new manager as the acquisition of major-league-level talent. Until it happens, there ought to be plenty of empty seats left at that local coffee shop referenced above, to say nothing of Safeco Field next season.