This comes as news to me, but then I haven't followed the Mariners very closely since, well, ever; and that includes the years I lived in Seattle. Apparently Ichiro Suzuki is so unpopular with his teammates that several of them got together earlier in the season and planned how they were going to "go after him." Yikes.
And it was a clubhouse in need of some direction, given the problems engulfing it as the season came undone. When it came to Ichiro, who got off to a typically slow start in April and part of May, the internal turmoil nearly hit its boiling point. "I just can't believe the number of guys who really dislike him," said one clubhouse insider. "It got to a point early on when I thought they were going to get together and go after him." The coaching staff and then-manager John McLaren intervened when one player was overheard talking — in reference to Ichiro — about wanting to "knock him out." A team meeting was called to clear the air.
That's from part II of a series on rebuilding the Mariners by Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times, who also points out that the Ms are the first franchise in major league history to lose 100 games with a $100 million payroll. At 58-100, the Mariners have quietly built the worst record in baseball, outstinking even the Padres (61-97) and Nationals (59-99). With four games left, the Mariners have a chance tie the franchise record of 104 losses set in 1978, the second year of their existence. More reachable: 1980’s 59-103, or 1983’s 60-102. And those three teams combined probably didn't have a payroll of $100 million. And with team president Chuck Armstrong already ruling out high-priced free-agent acquisitions this winter, the pending free agency of main power threat Raul Ibanez and trade talk involving Adrian Beltre, it doesn't look good for 2009. It's all been a strain even on the irrepressibly optimistic U.S.S. Mariner, who had this to say today:
I know I’ve tried to skate through the year a little, not spending too much time staring into the abyss, looking for bright spots like Morrow’s progression, or Ichiro’s play, but I paused after the game tonight and thought about the scope of this disaster for a while. The more I think about it, comparing how the team fell this far that it’s competing with those early expansion years, the more I wonder what I’m doing following this idiocy.
The Sonics are gone, the Seahawks don't look so hot ... even Frasier Crane is no longer around to talk residents down from the ledge. Not a great year to be a Seattleite.