No, Milton Bradley was not the Great Satan, not even the reason the Mariners went 16-19 in their first 35 games this season.
He was a veteran outfielder who simply shouldn't have been with the team in 2011, a man whose legs and bat could no longer have a positive impact. So the Mariners wasted six weeks and then jettisoned.
Without him, the Mariners are now 0-1 after their 7-6, 13-inning loss to Baltimore - but this is already a younger, more energized team that it was just two days ago. And it may be more of a team that it was two days earlier.
When Justin Smoak put a hard tag on Baltimore's Felix Pie in the 10th inning, the two exchanged nasty words and both benches emptied - with the Mariners quick to surround thier first baseman.
Never miss a local story.
“I didn’t mind that a bit,” manager Eric Wedge said. “I want a team that will fight for each other.”
This one now has rookies galore: Mike Wilson, Carlos Peguero, Michael Pineda, Tom Wilhelmsen and Dan Cortes, plus youngsters like Smoak and Michael Saunders.
Against the Orioles, they threw runners out at the plate (twice), came from behind twice - once in the ninth inning - and grabbed a one-run lead in the top of the 13th before losing.
This team isn't likely to contend this season, but it's the kind of team that's likely to let others - and its fans - that it's here.
Loosing Mr. Bradley had to happen first, and it has. Now manager Eric Wedge and his coaches and begin the job of putting together the team they wanted back in spring training, when front office minds were unwilling or unable to dump Bradley and his $13 million in salary.
It's the second-season for the Mariners. Even with a loss, it started out with an exciting game that featured intensity, high energy and a sense of camraderie.s