Tuesday, July 3, 2007
Updated: July 5, 2:14 PM ET
Looking for sense in Seattle
By Tim Keown
Baseball managers seem to have the sanest life of anybody who runs a team in the three major sports. They aren't expected to sleep in the office three nights a week like NFL -- and even big-time college football -- coaches. They aren't subject to the horrendous travel schedules in the NBA, nor to the problem of coming up with a new strategy every time their team plays.
And this might be a little bit of an industry secret, but most of the heavy lifting in the majors is done by subordinates. Scouts and coaches do the advance work -- similar to football and basketball -- but it goes beyond that. Managers make out the lineup card and decide pitching changes and strategy moves, but the only in-game, spur-of-the-moment decisions are handled by the third-base coach.
So the manager runs the meta-aspects of the game -- handling egos and playing time -- and, most importantly, is called upon to be the face of the franchise in front of the media.
Which brings us to Mike Hargrove, who managed his last game for the Seattle Mariners on Sunday after abruptly announcing his resignation earlier in the day. He cited a lack of passion and a lot of other vague reasons, most of which sounded awfully wimpy for a 57-year-old man who has spent most of his life in the no-excuses world of professional baseball.
He says there's no sinister or hidden motive for his departure, and let's hope it's not related to a medical problem or any other trauma.
Because, as it stands, he's a guy making a lot of money doing one of the coolest jobs in the world -- and doing it well, by the way -- with no young children he's leaving at home as he travels the country.
And doing it while living in one of America's best cities.
Which means we're left hoping it was just a weird move timed weirdly.
This Week's List
• The only All-Star question worth asking: Will A-Rod yell at the third baseman mid-popup in order to help the Red Sox get the home-field advantage in the World Series?
• What do you expect, her "My husband went to a strip club and all I got was this lousy T-shirt" shirt was in the wash: A-Rod's wife, according to the New York Post, attended a Yankees-A's game this weekend wearing a shirt with "F--- You" written on the back.
• Clearly, Mrs. Rodriguez is wearing cheap knockoffs, because if the shirt were authentic, it would have said "F--- Thou": The lettering on the T-shirt was described by reporters on the scene as being "Old English script."
• Wait, just in time for authentic T-shirts!: A-Rod got a $200,000 bonus for being named to the All-Star team.
• This seems like a concept even the union could get behind: If your contract calls for you to make more than $25 million per year, shouldn't you owe the team money if you don't make the All-Star team?
• Thirty years ago, he would have been grouped with John Lowenstein and Al Hrabosky as one of baseball's great flakes, but now he's seen as a dangerous pyro who might find himself on a homeland security watch list: Yankees reliever Scott Proctor caused a stir when he decided to hold a little bonfire with his gear in front of the Yankees' dugout after Saturday's loss to the Athletics.
• A word that appears only during the few days immediately after any sport's all-star selections: Snub.
• You know how Appalachian State will go to Auburn and take a beating on an autumn Saturday for a paycheck? Lou Savarese, the new name in taking a beating for a living, lost to Evander Holyfield.
• It's almost as if he weren't two more sips from jail time: An attorney for Tank Johnson, commenting on the Tank's .072 blood-alcohol level -- .008 below the limit -- said, "The fact that his blood level came back where it did is encouraging."
• They thought about texting, but one of the higher-ups said that would be too impersonal: It has been reported that NBC fired tennis analyst Bud Collins via voice mail.
• Oh, no, I feel another Lou Dobbs rant brewing: Three of the top five finishers in the U.S. Women's Open were Park, Pak and Park.
• In some precincts, they drove up in a van with doughnuts and methadone and promised free Internet access for three hours: The Giants helped Barry Bonds over the hump with a breathless and somewhat tawdry e-mail with this subject line: "Ballot Alert: Bonds Needs Your Votes!"
• Look, I fully understand this is a pet peeve bordering on becoming a full-blown fetish, but doesn't someone have to stand up for what is right in this world? The word "verse" does not mean "to compete against," nor does it correlate to the popular abbreviation "vs."; so, friends and sportscasters, the word you are looking for when you are attempting to convey the idea that one team is playing against another is "versus."
• To the nation's sporting press and broadcasting entities: Please stop worrying about whether the Yankees are going to make a run; the rest of us are not quite as fixated on the issue.
• And finally: Is anybody else thinking Serena Williams might have been a soccer player in a previous life?
Tim Keown is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. Sound off to Tim here.