Another day, another M's loss. At least the earlier bullpen meltdown guaranteed that this would not be a walk-off loss. Not that the bullpen really lost the game, because the offense blew a bunch of golden, bases-loaded opportunities.
The most interesting part of this game happened immediately afterwards. A players-only meeting was called, and usually I don't pay much attention to these. I have no idea what was said, but this one has a chance to be powerful. It was called by new players - Cliff Lee, Milton Bradley, and Chone Figgins.
This team has looked directionless on the field. It seems stuck in its ways, particularly of late, and that wouldn't be such a bad thing if their ways weren't so bad. The players are well aware of the hole and corresponding rut they are in, and it stinks for everyone involved.
However, it is easy to be competitive and happy when a team is winning. It is much harder to be on good terms when a team is losing, particularly when players are paid a ton to win.
That is part of what intrigues me so much about this team meeting. This season keeps drawing comparisons to the 2008 debacle, where everything went wrong. There have been nights where I have wondered if this team would be remembered in a similar way, and tonight was one of those nights - until the team meeting.
There are guys in that clubhouse who aren't going to let this season go without a fight. They won't accept losing, and they keep doing things behind closed doors to try to kick start something. Bad stretches have a knack for showing true colors, and I think this team saw something promising in the wake of this latest loss.
It saw Cliff Lee, increasingly the epicenter of trade talks, step up tonight and talk to this team about whatever he talked about. That's pretty special. Not only is he epically good more often than not on the mound, but he is invested in the team. He is all about winning, even with every reason in the world to worry about himself at this point. Talk about make-up that is off-the-charts.
How about Milton Bradley too? What kind of bizarro world are the 2010 Mariners living in? He was supposed to be the guy that would benefit from this clubhouse atmosphere. As of tonight, the tables completely flipped. It was Milton Bradley trying to bring this team together. He might be in the process of emerging as a clubhouse leader. Unbelievable.
Seeing Chone Figgins step up might have been the best of all. He is around for a while with the contract he signed. He has a chance to become a new clubhouse rock, in a way that an aging guy like Mike Sweeney can't be.
A clubhouse meeting won't breed a 35-home run slugger. However, these guys have to live with each other and the miserable season they are suffering through for a ton more games. Losing like this is ugly, and it seeps in everywhere.
Yet, there are guys stepping up, taking accountability, and putting up a fight. There are players that care on this team, and that take pride in the product on the field.
A new order might have begun to be established tonight. It could prove to be big. I don't think it is big enough to lift the 2010 Mariners from the ashes, but it might be enough to keep this organization from sinking, and needing to clean house. Losing ballclubs can develop losing attitudes, but this one has not yet, and I don't think it will after the leadership shown tonight. Too many people don't just say they care. They legitimately care.
Talking about the leadership shown in a clubhouse meeting totally ranks as a moral victory, and those don't do anything for the win-loss column. However, after watching how this team has performed for the past week, I'll take any victory I can get. Tonight could prove to be a turning point though. This team still believes it is better (and that's good, because it is), and it is not about to give in either.