OK, now a more serious note about the Mariners’ team meeting. Ken Rosenthal is in Baltimore and is talking to Mariners’ players. Here’s Mike Sweeney:
“We will support and fight and take a bullet for
Ken Griffey Jr. if we have to. He’s our teammate . . . Nothing is going to divide this clubhouse,
especially a makeshift article made up of lies.“
Sweeney went on:
“We don’t think there are two players who said that (about Griffey sleeping). I challenged everyone in that room — if they said that — to stand up and fight me. No one stood up.
So Mike Sweeney has either (a) accused Larry LaRue of the Tacoma News-Tribune of making up a story; or (b) has decided that browbeating and intimidating his teammates into agreeing with him that it never happened is the best way to make the story go away.
Not exactly the coming-together moment I would have expected after all of this, but hey, it’s their team. If they want to create their own reality, let them do it. Personally, if it were my team, I’d try to make this a teaching moment to the young players about keeping dirty laundry in-house instead of telling reporters about it and have everyone leave the meeting talking about the past being the past, how it’s nobody’s business and about how all that matters now is baseball.
But make no mistake: If what Sweeney says happened in that team meeting really happened, the Mariners are now less a baseball team than they are Ken Griffey’s P.R. firm.
UPDATE: Here’s a story describing Griffey’s response when asked point blank if he was sleeping in the clubhouse. There was an initial forceful denial, but it was followed up with what sounds like some serious equivocation to me. Obviously you can judge it for yourself, however.
My thoughts on the ultimate truth here: why on Earth would two players make up a story about all of this. Alternatively, why would a reporter make it up?
Whatever the answers are to those questions, I think the way the team appears to have handled the aftermath is pretty poor.
The Rangers found themselves in a 5-1 hole after three innings against the Athletics on Monday, but scratched out some runs in the middle innings. That allowed them to enter the bottom of the ninth inning trailing by only one run, 6-5, facing A’s closer Ryan Madson.
Adrian Beltre, who hit a solo home run in the seventh inning, stepped to the plate with a runner on first base and two outs. He was the Rangers’ last hope to keep the game alive. The veteran third baseman swung at Madson’s first pitch, a 96 MPH fastball, and drilled it to left-center field for a walk-off two-run home run.
Beltre now has nine walk-off home runs in his career. While the 37-year-old isn’t quite the offensive dynamo he was even two years ago, his numbers are still respectable. He’ll head into Tuesday’s action batting .281/.334/.468 with 16 home runs and 63 RBI in 392 plate appearances.
Outfielder Jay Bruce was the catalyst in the Reds’ 7-5 victory over the Giants on Monday night, drilling a pair of two-run home runs. It’s good timing for the Reds, as the trade deadline is six days away. The Reds might prefer to get a prospect or two for Bruce rather than pick up his $13 million club option for 2017 or buy him out for $1 million and let him walk into free agency.
It was only a year ago that it seemed like the Reds would have to settle for next-to-nothing to get rid of Bruce. He posted career-lows across the board in 2014, including a .654 OPS and 18 home runs. He improved last season, returning to 26 home runs, but came with an uninspiring .729 OPS.
This year is another story. Bruce is currently hitting .272/.326/.564 with 23 home runs and a league-best 77 RBI. He’s on pace to set career-bests in a lot of categories if he’s able to stay healthy.
Bruce was honest about his resurgence, though, admitting that he doesn’t know why he’s so much better this year as Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports.
This is such a fleeting game. It’s so unforgiving. You’re never settled. You’ve never got it. You’ve never figured it out. It’s like a puzzle that never has all the pieces to it. You might get close and feel pretty good about your progress, but you never are going to have the puzzle put together.
Bruce, who welcomed a child into the world back in April, also discussed the difficulties of hearing his name bandied about in trade rumors once again.
It’s harder this year. I have a family I have to focus on now. Logistically, it’s much more intricate. I know the skit. I know how it goes. But it will be nice when it’s passed because we’ll have a plan of attack on whether my family is staying where they are in Cincinnati or elsewhere.
This is a point of view that is not often covered. This time of the year can be very difficult for players who may be traded, as they await a phone call that could send their lives into upheaval. It may mean being away from their families for three months. It means living out of a hotel room or finding a place to live on very short notice. Even Bruce’s comments about his success this year are illuminating about the mental strain of the game.
As usual, great reporting by Buchanan. His full article is worth your time.