It’s been a rough sports year in the Pacific Northwest. (Actually, with Oregon State’s [latest] shocker against USC, let’s be more Puget Sound-specific.) The Sonics have skedaddled out of town for Oklahoma City. The Washington Huskies football squad is horrendous. (And for Wazzu alums in Seattle, the Cougars ain’t doing much better.) And the Mariners are about to wrap up another miserable season.
How bad has it been for the souls at Safeco Field? Not only had it driven manager John McLaren to a potty-mouthed post-game tirade (and to the unemployment line), but one Mariners player had openly spoke of plans on pummeling the M’s star attraction, Ichiro Suzuki.
In his review of the M’s season, Geoff Baker of the SEATTLE TIMES reveals just how sour things got in the Seattle clubhouse:
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.”
Well, it’s not like anybody actually said they would go after Ichiro - right?
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.
Hmmm. The guy must have been from Cleveland. But it’s not like Ichiro was the target of his teammates’ ire before - right?
It was a repeat of May 2007, when Mike Hargrove was in charge and a team meeting had to be called during a series at Tampa Bay because of clubhouse bickering over Ichiro being a “selfish” player.
Maybe that was just a case of being misheard, and that it was really said that Ichiro was a “shellfish” player - a guy who really loved his seafood.
So, what could it be? Is Ichiro really a clubhouse cancer, or are the other Mariners just jealous of the team’s only good player?