...At Least Not In The Sense That The Challengers Really Had Much Of A Chance From The Start.
(The title box cut me off after "Much".)
You've all seen it by now - Hargrove says that there are three serious candidates for the starting second baseman gig. Many of you probably read the article over breakfast and briefly considered adding strychnine to your cereal to bring an end to the torment. I'm here to tell you not to worry so much. Remember our first tenet of the offseason:
You can extend it to cover the entire organization, really - these are all baseball people who didn't get to where they are by being idiots. Pretty much everyone affiliated with the team recognizes that Jose Lopez is far and away the best player of the three in question. It's no mistake that he was playing in Seattle months before his 21st birthday. The problem, as many of the higher-ups see it, is that Lopez doesn't have the right "drive", that he doesn't put forth enough effort on the field to be handed a starting job. So what better way to light a fire under his ass than by saying that a job he rightfully deserves is up in the air?
It appears to be working, too:
Nothing in baseball stings worse than knowing that you lost your spot in the everyday lineup to Willie Ballgame. If this is what it takes to get Lopez going and leaving everything he has on the field, then so be it - the Mariners will beat the "competition" horse until it's ten past dead. That doesn't mean they didn't have a clear favorite from the get-go, though. Jose Lopez is the best second baseman in the organization, but the team isn't particularly thrilled with his attitude, so they're using a textbook Spring Training motivational ploy to push him a little bit. Barring some sort of unforeseen tragedy, Lopez will enter the season as the starting 2B, the organization will credit him for his newfound maturity and work ethic, and that'll be it. This isn't so much a three-way competition as it is a battle between Jose Lopez and himself. And as long as he doesn't break down under the pressure, everything will be fine in the end.
(If it turns out that I've given the organization far too much credit, and that either Ballgame or Vina break camp with the starting job, then, er, my bad.)
With all that said, if you remain a firm believer in this three-way race for muted glory, then feel free to add what you consider to be appropriate weight to the following attributes, listed underneath the player who best demonstrates each of them:
-Talent in general
-Middle name translates to mean "celestine," the definition of which can be either "a branch of the Benedictine Order of monks" or "strontium sulfate"
-Pasty white skin reflects sunlight, distracting the batter
-Shares in Hargrove's immaculate ability to contradict himself in the same sentence:
"Even if I win [the job], I might not win it because it might not be the best thing for our team," Bloomquist said.
-Extra motivation as he tries to prove that he still belongs after serious injury problems
-Only one of the three with postseason experience
-Willing and able to recount Civil War stories with Hargrove over bourbon and johnnie cakes
Let the competition begin!