Saturday, June 21, 2008

Mariner Metaphor For Bad Management

(PI Photo): New Mariners manager Jim Riggleman, left, speaks with Atlanta Braves assistant manager Bruce Manno, right, during batting practice before the game at Turner Field in Atlanta. Riggleman took over as Seattle's manager on Friday with an upbeat attitude, urging players to ignore speculation about the impending dismantling of the team.

Seattle Post Intelligencer sports reporter DAVID ANDRIESEN's story on fired Mariner coach John McLaren's Friday conference call with reporters belongs on the business pages, as a case study of what can go wrong with a talented group of individuals who can't seem to find a way to play as a team.

"I think there is a little tension and friction, a little jealousy, and that's for those guys to work out (on) their own. We tried to, and weren't very successful. I think the players have got to do it on their own. The only reason I bring that up is ... to make this team better. That's the only reason I say it. If they can get in a room and work some issues out, I think they'll be better off. I care about all those guys. They're good people. But sometimes we get caught up in our own little world, and this is a team sport. I think there is some issues in there, and if they can take care of them, they'll be a lot closer to going where they want to go than they are now."

McLaren, who if anything erred on the side of defending his players too much as manager, said he wasn't bringing up the clubhouse issues to deflect blame for the team's sorry state.

Fans want to know what happened to this talented-on-paper team, and even the man closest to it still doesn't have a simple answer. Lots of teams have fought among themselves but won once they got on the field.

"We got blindsided, absolutely got blindsided. There's two things I've been shocked (by) in 39 years (in baseball) and 22 years in the big leagues: this right here, what has happened to us, and 2001, winning 116 games (with McLaren as bench coach). Never expected either one. I've thought about this a million times, and everything just doesn't make sense. We play with passion and we play hard, and that's why it didn't add up. If these guys didn't play hard and they didn't prepare, things would be more clear for me. If they had stopped playing hard, I would have had a discussion with the front office way before they got me, I can assure you that. I can hold my head high, believe me. I'm not happy with the record. I'm very disappointed. It bothers me. But as far as my staff putting in the effort and getting guys prepared, I thought we put the work in and it just didn't happen. It was a definite privilege and honor to manage the Seattle Mariners."

It was a privilege and honor McLaren, 56, worked all his career for, spending nearly three decades in professional baseball. It ended in disappointment that will surely leave McLaren with unanswered questions for a long time.

Those quotes have to ring true for anyone who has been a part of a potentially-great radio station or morning show that didn't live up to their potential due to infighting or personal conflicts.

If you have any insight into how a coach or manager can turn a disfunctional team around, I'd love to hear it. So, I'd bet, would the Seattle Mariners.

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