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Goodbye?, Erik

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When news of Erik Bedard's torn labrum was leaked/announced, I felt saddened. As part of getting over it, I decided to write a letter.

Dear Erik,

It got off to a rocky start; when your name was first floated to us through the MLB Winter Meetings rumor mill back in December of 2007, many of us did react with interest, but that interest turned almost immediately to horror when word started going around of the asking price required to gain your services from Baltimore. I hope you didn't take that personally, Erik. I would like to believe that our comments after the trade finally became official, a grueling twelve week period for us, served to show that while we were upset with how much talent Bill Bavasi sent to Baltimore to acquire you, we were also very excited to see you in a Mariner uniform.

Joining a new team that, rightfully or not (not), was coming off an 88-win season and pushing for the playoffs must place a tremendous pressure to contribute right away. Nobody wants to be the person that doesn't hold his weight when the team is reaching for a goal. When that team pays a bounty for your services it must get even tougher, not unlike the story we hear often from players a few years after they signed a mega contract how much pressure they felt to justify that investment. Seeing Adam Jones and others blossom as they did likely only added to that pressure. For that, Erik...I am sorry that you have to deal with that.

I must say too, that the first at bat of the season in 2008 was something special for those of us trying to hold onto our illusion of playoff chances after the fluky 2007 season. It was everything that we were excited to see in one three-pitch sequence. While the following at bat was not quite as glamorous for you, that first one will be remembered.

I understand too, that are you are not likely blind to the cost paid to acquire you. I wonder, sometimes, if that is why you have strived to pitch through as much pain as you have these past two years. I know plenty of people have, or should have, eaten some crow each of these last two seasons when their criticisms about your willingness to pitch more turned out to be leveled at you while you were enduring season-ending shoulder issues. I am not sure why players who get hurt, or take time to recover from injury, are so routinely flamed by people while players who stay healthy but perform at a mediocre, or worse, level are largely ignored. Perhaps the familiar makes people dull to the reality of the situation. Anyways, I am sorry that you received the treatment that you did from people that you did. Especially the remarks questioning your toughness or manhood. Those probably roll of your back now, but I'm sorry nonetheless.

And even though our only semi-personal interaction began with my mock cheer of an Adam Jones single in your earshot in the middle of an otherwise drab blowout, you reacted with more good grace than your media reputation at the time would have led many to believe. I hope you did not take my casual throwaway joke as the feeling of all Mariner followers toward you. It was not even a position that I myself subscribed to now or at the time and your handling of it and further interaction with us showed a great amount of personal character.

For what it's worth, there were many of us around these parts that supported you. We know that the 2008 team was flawed from the beginning, with or without you, and that its collapse had little to do with you missing time and more to do with just overly bad talent nearly everywhere. We also supported your reputation as a surly interview. In fact, we more than supported it - we embraced it. Please know that some of us viewers actually do enjoy it when an athlete gets tired of the same inane questions from reporters and hold them to a higher standard or refuse to indulge them with your time. Thank you for whatever part you have played in raising the discussion level.

Usually I try to pay little attention to former Mariners. In the end, I am rooting for the uniform and the city first, and the actual players second. There are exceptions though and I wanted you to know that you will be among those exceptions should this labrum tear mark the end of your Mariners career. I hope you have health and success wherever you go, and I also hope that the place might be in Seattle this coming off season. I should warn you though that no matter the exception list, I still root for the team first, so I only want you back if the value is right. Nothing personal.

Matthew Carruth