Mariners Insider Blog

The unending search for positives


Still looking ...

I guess we'll just have to manufacture some.

I guess this team is hitting better, I guess this team is sticking together, I guess this team is on the verge of breaking out, I guess this is still a good team. At least this is what Raul Ibanez told us earlier tonight. It still feels like a guess to me. What do I know? I've only had to be around them nearly every day since February 15.

I want to believe what Raul says. I think he wants to believe it. But at the end of the day, I don't know if any of it is inherently true.

Let me preface this rant by saying that I picked this team to win the division. Not because I'm a homer, or just to play to readers. I really thought that with the acquisition of Erik Bedard they could contend with the Angels.

But now the Mariners have the worst record in the American League. So if you're looking for sunshine, cookies and good feelings stop reading because this team is in last place right now, and it shouldn't be.

Look I won't pretend that you empathize with me and my plight to talk to baseball players on a daily basis. It's not as great as you think it is, and conversely it's not as bad as sometimes writers make it sound.

Whether Felix acts like a complete child means little to you. I know because of the emails and comments I received when I wrote something about Bedard and his attitude toward the media. But don't you see that something as simple as Felix making a timely effort to come out and speak tonight to the media about a second mediocre start, instead of blowing off a quality and hardworking Mariners' staffer, who asked very politely for him to come out and talk, is small reminder of the bigger picture?

Am I mad that I stood for 45 minutes to talk to Felix? Hell yes. But I had these thoughts well before this.

Sometimes it seems to me there is an allowance of a lack of accountability in this organization for certain members of management and certain players.

Granted there are more exceptions than there are suspects. JJ Putz has never ducked an interview that I've seen. The only time I thought he might be hiding out, he was actually getting treated for a rib injury. And his crew in the bullpen is solid and upstanding on most occasions. Carlos Silva and Miguel Batista have been nothing but professional. Richie Sexson has been one of the best guys to about standing up for himself and the team all season.

Even Jarrod Washburn, who views much of the media skeptically even more after this week, understands his professional duties, and can be very interesting and engaging. Another good example tonight is Raul Ibanez, who is like Edgar and wants to do his postgame workout every night. Yet, he still comes out when asked and answers questions, even if it's about his own mistakes, much like tonight. Although, he loathes to talk about himself or speak for the team as a whole, Raul understood that because nobody else was saying much, that as one of the veterans on the team, he needed to.

Heck, even Jose Lopez admitted to costing his team the game on Monday night. He didn't duck and hide. As we approached to talk to him, he knew exactly what we were going to ask and he manned up and took it. No fault, no blame. Just stand there accept fault and move on. There are others, that go in this list and others that headline the other list.

Now don't misunderstand me.

Do I think that the players try hard when they go out there? Absolutely. These guys would have never made it to the big leagues if they weren't highly competitive and intense. And even once they get here, I think they are so ingrained to hate losing that they always go out and play to win (it would be frightening if I ever thought they didn't). I believe that once anybody that steps on the field wearing a Mariners uniform cares. They care. They want to win. But winning, or at least being around a winner, is the easy thing. It's when you're losing, or things aren't going right, when a player's true convictions come out, and also his true professionalism. It comes down to acceptance and accountability, and sometimes I don't like what I see in either category with this Mariner team.

Certain unwritten rules and responsibilities limit me from saying exactly how it is. But know this, the Mariners as of today are a flawed team. And the responsibility for this situation can be found in many people, perhaps the least of them is manager John McLaren, who was given a dysfunctional team unable to overcome certain things, without his control.

Can it be fixed? Yes, the team has talent and enough character to do so. But not under current conditions. But this doesn't have to be permanent.

I keep searching for positives and they are there. But right now, they aren't readily apparent.