Up in Smoak?
The future is up in Smoak
By Obnoxious John
There was a brief time, probably during the pre-game show before the first game of the year, or before they played that disastrous series with the White Sox in April, losing 3 games in the bottom of the ninth, or maybe it was after they reeled off six victories in a row when I tried to believe the Mariners would be involved in the a) Western Division, b) American League run for the World Series this year.
Even though I felt in the back of my mind that something was not right with this team, I still tried rationalizing and excusing mental error after mental error, base running gaffe after base running gaffe and hoping against hope they would be players, in every sense of the word this season, and contend.
Alas, the Mighty Jack Z has struck out.
It might have been the decision to return Junior to the lineup even though last year was the ‘farewell tour’ that tipped the scales against success. Perhaps it was bringing back another ancient (in baseball terms) contributor in Mike ‘who wants to fight?’ Sweeney. Finally the move to get Russell Branyan after having him last year deciding his health was too risky and not signing him during the off season, thus removing the one power hitter the M’s had from the lineup, and having that prove to be really nothing more than the equivalent of the old axiom ‘putting lipstick on a pig’, that I finally cashed in my interest chips for this season.
Running concurrent to all this was the Cliff Lee thing. Once the season began and the M’s almost immediately sank to the bottom, we knew Lee was only here for a visit. I really liked what he did when we had him. His approach to pitching, the results he attains and the influence he has on the other staff members is exemplary. But he was too good to hold onto. Because he was free to walk at the end of this year the M’s were gambling that a hot start and good team play would make it easy to keep him around. Maybe the team would get to the Promised Land of baseball and with Lee, reap some rewards then take a chance on signing him after the year was over.
As you all know that plan has been abandoned. He is now part of what appears to be an organization on the upswing, led by a Hall of Fame pitcher. I think the Rangers hope Lee will help them get to the aforementioned Promised Land and with Nolan Ryan negotiating the contract, maybe they can hold onto one of the best pitchers in the game, as of today.
However, lurking in the shadows and not visible until the season is over, are the Yankees. They will bide their time, call on Mr. Lee in the off season. The Yankees will show him a future of pennants and World Series rings, telling him all of that can be his. All he need do is give his baseball soul to the Bronx Bombers. Up to this point, no man has been able to turn them down. I see no reason why Cliff Lee should be any different.
The up in Smoak reference? That’s the last name of the player the M’s got in return for Lee. A 23 year old power hitter who plays first base and can hit from both sides of the plate. Here’s hoping where there’s Smoak there’s fire. But he did strike out 3 times in his debut…….
Now go out there and take one for the team!