Don Wakamatsu Gets the Ax With the Seattle Mariners' Ship Sunk

Adam BernacchioAnalyst IIIAugust 10, 2010

SEATTLE - JULY 24:  Manager Don Wakamatsu #22 of the Seattle Mariners heads back to the dugout after questioning a call in the first inning in which Chone Figgins #9 of the Mariners was called out on a bunt during the game against the Boston Red Sox at Safeco Field on July 24, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

The title of this article could have been “With the Mariners Ship Sinking,” but the Seattle’s ship sunk about five months ago after they started the season 2-6 and looked hideous in doing so.

Not only did the Mariners lose a lot during the first week of the season, but they have lost a lot all year and now, their losing has cost their manager his job.

The Mariners fired manager Don Wakamatsu on Monday as well as pitching coach Rick Adair and bench coach Ty Van Burkleo.

Wakamatsu went 127-147 since getting Seattle’s job in November 2008. Daren Brown, the Mariners’ Triple-A manager, will take over for Wakamatsu on an interim basis.

There were two main reasons for Wakamatsu’s firing.

1. He lost the clubhouse.

When a manager doesn’t make it through the next year after going 85-77 the previous season, that tells me the players were just tired of his act.

Ken Griffey Jr. retired in the middle of the season because he was unhappy and then Wakamatsu got into it with Chone Figgins back in June.

In the middle of the fifth inning in a game against the Boston Red Sox, Wakamatsu pulled Figgins after he perceived a lack of hustle from his second baseman on a play in the top half of the inning, when a relay throw from left fielder Michael Saunders rolled through the infield.

That allowed Boston’s Mike Cameron to advance to third after his double, but he did not score.

Wakamatsu and Figgins exchanged words in the dugout, and a short skirmish broke out involving several members of the team.

TV replays showed Jose Lopez—with Figgins behind him—being restrained by Jack Wilson and Ryan Rowland-Smith while Russell Branyan was held back by multiple teammates.

The whole fracas was a real black eye for the entire Mariners’ organization.

A baseball manager is more of a relationship manager rather than a football or basketball coach, which is more about implementing a system and then following through on the X’s and O’s of the sport.

Once a baseball manager loses his relationships with his team, then he has nothing left.

2. He was a victim of unrealistic expectations.

The Mariners were very active in the offseason adding Cliff Lee, Milton Bradley, and Chone Figgins. With those additions, many thought the Mariners would improve on their 85 wins from last year.

However, this team was doomed from the beginning.

Seattle went into the season with two starting pitchers, a mediocre bullpen, and an Opening Day lineup that had Casey Kotchman batting third, Griffey Jr. batting fifth, and Rob Johnson and Jack Wilson batting eighth and ninth.

I don’t care how many runs the Mariners thought they were going to prevent, there was no way this team was going to be as good as they were last season. Those unrealistic expectations were the other reason Wakamatsu got the ax in Seattle.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

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