As exciting as it may be to wax nostalgic about what happened a mere decade ago, it's also fallacy to think it can happen again. Or is it?
This has been a huge internal struggle for me, as I can be quite the optimist, yet able to understand the reality of so many things working against this team. I'm a firm believer that man, collectively, pushes the limits of what's possible every single day. It's always possible to redefine what's possible. Of course, there are always exceptions to every rule. There's always deviation from every standard. Things go statistically wacky every day.
Is it realistic to believe that this team can compete this year? Probably not. But what person or group of people ever succeeded in making the previously impossible possible by telling themselves that what they are about to embark on is impossible? If we're looking at rebuilding the M's into a competitive club any time in the near future, then the very first step, as Lou Piniella taught this team back in the early '90s, is that losing is unacceptable. The strike-shortened 1994 season was nearly as bad, winning percentage wise, as what we're seeing now (43.8% -- between the 38.9% we saw last year, and the 45.8% we've seen so far this year). With the wounds of the strike still very fresh, the 1995 team didn't exactly get off to the greatest of starts, either. But look where they ended up.
Of course, the talent level on that 1995 team was much different than that of this current team. Unless Felix comes in, shows he's healthy, and pitches to the epitome of his potential right away, then this team doesn't have a Randy Johnson ruddering its rotation. I'm pretty sure that getting Pokey Reese off the DL is not like getting Ken Griffey Juinor back in '95. Maybe if Bucky ever gets healthy, then you might have a better parallel comparison there. Willie Bloomquist
might be as good as Rich Amaral
, Alex Diaz
, or Luis Sojo
, and is definitely as well-liked, but still -- this is a much different team in a much different situation.
Bill Bavasi, Mike Hargrove, and the rest of the M's brass are getting paid millions of times more than any of us bloggers are to do their jobs. In spite of how well we armchair GMs may think we could be running this team, they're still the only ones currently employed making their very comfortable livings to do just that task. There's nothing a single one of us can do except (perhaps foolishly) expend our energy trying to make this team better, shouting at whomever will listen to get the job done or make us (arguably) feel slightly better.
For that very reason, I've decided against doing a mid-season report card. What's really the point? I would hope and assume that the guys being paid the big bucks to run this team have looked at how this club needs to improve. I would hope and assume that they are trying to do things, based upon intensely complicated parameters we could barely envision, to turn this club into a winner both now and in the long-term.
Which brings me around to my main point. I'd much rather have this team focused on taking steps to turn the impossible into the possible than to have a team that implodes on itself by pointing fingers at other teammates and management. I was actually thinking about this long before Thomas Harding's article
on Ichiro's that showed up today on the M's site revealing Ichiro's excitement over the possibilities of the second half of 2005:
Seattle right fielder Ichiro Suzuki solemnly stated his second-half goal in Japanese to his interpreter, Allen Turner:
"The goal is to go 70-6."
The laughter the answer brought snapped Ichiro into English:
"Why you laughing?"
"I'd rather have people say, 'He can break that record,' rather than people saying, 'I wonder if he can get 150 hits this year.'
"It's a better way of looking at it."
This comes from a guy who doesn't think seemingly impossible standards are funny.
If Ichiro's high expectations were to rub off on this team, think of what this team could accomplish! Granted, Willie Bloomquist does not have Ichiro's talent. But does that really matter? Again, if you set goals that are geared towards mediocrity, then you'll end up underacheiving. Sometimes you might want to set your goal just above what you think you may be able to acheive. Is that being merely blindly optimistic? Well, it depends. If you truly change your attitude and focus your energy on accomplishing that goal, then maybe it isn't. You have to know when to call a spade a spade, and maybe Boone's DFA is the signal of calling this team a spade. However, maybe Boone's presence was hurting this team's focus moreso than it was helping it.
It's certainly laughable to think that this team can go 70-6 the rest of the way. If they did that, they truly would be making the impossible possible. I'd still rather say that this team can improve, and make it back to .500 (a more possible impossibility, however difficult it may seem, than going 70-6 the rest of the way) than wonder if we can even improve on last season's record.
After all, mere attitude and self-sacrifice to the common goal can turn the seemingly impossible into the possible. Add intense focus and desire into the mix, and you can even exceed what you initially envisioned. I experienced this first hand being a part of a team of folks using the limited and under-refined talents we had to serve a common, aggressive, but clear and achievable goal. Sure, we were carried on the backs of a few stars without whose talent and experience, our goal would not have been met. But without the cooperation and focus of everyone involved on our common goal, the people of the world would not have chosen my team over the gecko's
Let's focus on helping make the impossible possible. In memory of the recently departed Luther Vandross, crank it up