Tim Chalberg • Thursday, May 08, 2008
If there was any doubt that the Mariners are frustrated over their lack of run production, there is none now. Richie Sexson, by all accounts and upstanding and mild-mannered individual, showed that even the calmest of people can only take so much. The entire offense is mired in a terrible slump that has only gotten worse during this homestand. John McLaren already chewed them out over the weekend in New York. Brad Wilkerson and Greg Norton were both designated for assignment to bring up the two brightest hitting prospects in the organization. The slump has progressed from panic to frustration, and it finally boiled over as Richie tossed his bat aside and charged the mound with authority, even going as far as spiking his helmet into Kason Gabbard's back.
There really is not much to analyze here. The Mariners are in a bad slump, and they will not break out of it until they start scoring some runs. They are not even leaving many runners on base; they simply are not even getting on base to start with. Given that this team is better than they are playing, and they seem themselves slipping farther and farther from first place, the frustration was bound to boil over at some point. McLaren was ejected last night, technically for arguing balls and strikes, but really for being so frustrated. Just how frustrating the slump is really came into focus tonight though, thanks to Richie Sexson.
Obviously, Richie was way out of line. The pitch was high and inside, but frankly not terribly far in. Maybe Kason met to hit him, but I buy that he did not mean to hit him in the head. Given how quickly Richie reacted to the pitch, he seemed to be anticipating it. He looked he might have been looking to charge the mound, and even if he were justified charging the mound, there is not much he can do to defend taking off his helmet and throwing it at Gabbard, much less drilling him in the back with it. I am curious to see how long Richie's suspension is (because I do not think there is much doubt he will be suspended); the helmet toss may make it rather severe.
Though I probably should not admit this, there was something gratifying about watching Richie charge the mound with such authority. I am frustrated as a fan too, and in some way he took some of my frustrations and threw them into Gabbard's back, along with the helmet. If not for the brawl, I would be sitting around thinking about the actual game, which was another anemic offensive effort. The Mariners have not scored in two games, just lost three out of four to Texas at home, and is squarely in the cellar. The game itself was terribly depressing. But, thanks to Richie, there is something else to talk about on the field besides the game, and that is worth something right now.
I did not think Richie had it in him to ever charge the mound. The helmet spike into Gabbard's back was even more unexpected. Sexson charged Gabbard with impressive authority, and definitely doled out a punishment that exceeded the crime. His actions should be condemned, but they were so unexpected, and they took the focus off of the M's depressing offensive woes. However long Richie's suspension is, I do not care. The repercussions will likely harm the team, but watching Richie take some of this team's frustrations away was worth it. I am tired of thinking about this team's offensive struggles. Optimally, they would start scoring some runs, but Richie charging the mound works for tonight.