Not to worry, the team really gave it their all tonight. They battled against a good pitcher, and the only difference was that the Angels got a few hits when they needed to, and the Mariners didn't. It was a classic showdown between two AL giants, and Los Angeles just happened to be the ones who pulled it out in the end. The team knows what it didn't do right today, and they'll surely come out recharged and refocused for a critical rubber game tomorrow night.
Seriously, is there a worse justification for keeping problem bats in the lineup than "they're giving it their all"? What does McLaren even mean when he says "it means something to their teammates"? I've been in dugouts before. I've seen good players try hard and succeed, and I've seen bad players try hard and fail. They don't get treated the same. Players appreciate when someone's putting forth the effort instead of totally dogging it, but they appreciate winning even more, and as much as they may respect a teammate's determination, they still know that he's struggling and have little faith that he'll come through when they need him. Being supportive isn't the same thing as being loyal and optimistic.
And what message does this send to someone like Ben Broussard, who's hitting circles around most of our lineup? If McLaren really values people who "give it their all," then there are only two explanations: that he thinks Richie is trying harder than Broussard, or that he's wedded to assigned roles and refuses to see Broussard as anything more than a bench player. The former is insulting and the latter is stupid.
How does it make sense to stick with Richie and Raul because they're "giving it their all," anyway? Let's consider the two possible options, here:
(1) Richie and Raul are giving it their all. By definition, this means that they're putting forth as much effort as they can, and can't possibly elevate their levels of determination. By working as hard as their bodies allow, they've combined for a sub-.700 OPS. And because they're already maxing out their effort, there's no real hope of them getting better.
(2) They're not actually giving it their all, which means that either McLaren's a lousy evaluator, or he's lying to us about his reasons for keeping them in the lineup. Not that there's ever any reason to keep playing someone whose heart isn't completely into it. "Giving it your all" should be an expectation, not an achievement.
Assuming that #2 is incorrect, we're left with #1 - Raul and Richie are playing as hard as they can. That's all well and good; they should be playing as hard as they can. Playing baseball is their job, and nobody on the roster can afford to take it lightly. It just boggles my mind that "they're giving it their all" can be considered a compliment and a point of support for keeping a player or two in the everyday lineup. No manager at the office ever says "you can't fire Steve, he's a phenomenal typer." Typing is a requirement. People don't deserve to be praised for doing what they're supposed to do. People deserve praise for going above and beyond, something that clearly doesn't apply to the two Mariners in question.
Raul Ibanez and Richie Sexson are probably giving it their all every day they come to the ballpark. And their all isn't good enough. It's time to reward the people who've actually earned the jobs, rather than the people who've tried hard to hold on to them. At some point in any winning organization, performance has to trump everything else. The Mariners need to learn this lesson before it's too late, and that moment is coming quicker than you think.
Biggest Contribution: Jose Vidro, +7.4%
Biggest Suckfest: Jeff Weaver, -32.4%
Most Important At Bat: Beltre DP, -7.4%
Most Important Pitch: HGH homer #1, -18.4%
Total Contribution by Pitcher(s): -32.8%
Total Contribution by Position Players: -17.2%
Total Contribution by Opposition: 0.0%
Reggie Willits is short and obnoxious. Adrian Beltre hasn't hit a slider in four years. The Angels hit 66% as many home runs tonight as they had in the entire month of July coming into the game. And I have to start resting up and packing for my trip to Seattle, so I can't put much into the website tonight or tomorrow.
Felix and Jered Weaver tomorrow night at 7:05pm in a game that determines whether or not the Mariners need to start focusing on the Wild Card instead of the division. Since breaking into the league, Weaver has a 177-point platoon split, and has allowed most of his homers to left-handed hitters. If Broussard isn't in the starting lineup, I'm going to build an effigy of John McLaren, sit it in my passenger seat, put a pillowcase over its head, and drive off a cliff.