Jen Mueller interviewed Matt Tuiasosopo for a little while after the game, and when asked about the team's focus right now, Tui, smiling, said that they have like 40 games left, and they're just trying to win as many as possible, and they're just trying to go out and do the best they can, and all that stuff. It was a very standard, professional, empty answer, but it did make me wonder: what do you think the morale is like in the clubhouse right now?
The Mariners are in last place, with one of the worst records of any team in baseball. We know that, earlier in the year, the clubhouse wasn't doing so hot, described as tumultuous at the best of times and toxic at the worst. The frustration of a disappointing year made up of a lot of disappointing individual seasons boiled over on a handful of occasions, and there was little in the way of respect being shown to the manager. About a month ago, if you'd have asked me which clubhouse had the most negative morale in the league, I probably would've picked out the Mariners.
But now? Now I wonder. Obviously, the manager has changed, as has much of the rest of the coaching staff. That change at the top kind of gave everyone something of a fresh start. The team's winning, too, having taken each of its last four series by a 2-1 margin. Winnings cures a number of ills, if it doesn't cure all of them.
On top of that, it's the middle of August, and what might've been frustrating a month or three ago might now be familiar. I'm not saying the Mariners are happy about where they are, but, by now, I imagine many of them may have come to terms with it and accepted what's gone on. A lot like us, in a way, only while our Tropic Of Cairo represents a thundering indifference, theirs may represent just going out and playing the game without worrying about the past. Frustration dulls.
And finally, there's been so much change. Not just among the coaching staff. The team now has Luke French. Garrett Olson. David Pauley. Chris Seddon. Jamey Wright. Chris Woodward. Matt Tuiasosopo. Michael Saunders and Josh Wilson are playing nearly every day. There are a lot of guys on this team who weren't here earlier, and there are a lot of guys on this team who have to go out there and bust their asses every day for the sake of carving out a career. That can change the attitude from what it might be were the roster kept largely intact. The games become exciting again. The games become meaningful. Gone are many of the reminders of the first half of the season. Now, it's more about the present, and it's more about the future. There's less time and less reason to dwell.
This is all total speculation on my part, if you haven't figured that out by yourself. I'm not in the clubhouse, and can't provide for you any firsthand information. But when I think it through, it makes sense to me, and it seems probable to me, and just the fact that I think this team might now have decent morale is kind of remarkable given where it was before. Morale may be impossible to predict, but it is by no means impossible to change.
Whether any of this really matters all that much in the end, I can't tell you. But now I have written a blog post that was at least in some small way related to this afternoon's baseball game. I did it!