"They deserve better. They are good people. There is a good thing going on here. And it's time for me to leave."
Wow. That sounds like a man who is world-weary, fed up, and willing to let someone else deal with his problems. Were they the words of recently released Baltimore Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo? Nope. Cincinnati Reds ex-manager Jerry Narron, cut loose recently by the lowly NL Central franchise? Again, no.
They were the honest and humble words of Mike Hargrove, who managed his final game in a Mariners uniform Sunday, earning a 2-1 victory that was the team's eighth in a row and put Seattle at 45-33, a mere 4 1/2 games out of first place in the AL West and only 1 1/2 games back in the Wild Card race.
The only sentiment on everyone's mind was very simply "what the hell just happened?" — even Seattle Mariners GM Bill Bavasi, who called the move an "11" on the 1-10 "How Shocked Was I?" scale.
Bavasi chose to focus on what a crushing blow this was for the team, and indeed it will be difficult for Seattle to press on in the immediate future, though I do not think Hargrove is a fool. He likely made the move because he felt he had gotten the current group to reach their full potential and was confident they could continue producing without him.
I am more interested in Hargrove. Perhaps there's something to be found in the commentary from Hargrove's pregame press conference that Sunday:
"I don't expect people to understand it, I really don't, because at times I don't understand it myself...[t]he highs weren't high enough, the lows were too low...I have never had to work at getting that level myself — ever — until recently. "I've daily challenged my players to give me the best that they've got, 100 percent of what they've got that day — physically and mentally. And they've done that. Without fail, they've done that. I've found that I've had to work harder in making that same commitment to my bosses, to my players and to my coaches. And that's not right," Hargrove said, turning away and choking back tears.
That didn't help a whole lot, and now I'm just depressed. What about Hargrove's managing history?
He started out as an assistant under John McNamara in Cleveland. McNamara is most well known for his successes - and failures - as manager of the Bill Buckner-era Red Sox. He came to Cleveland the year before and managed the team to 77 wins, and was in the midst of a 5-25 tailspin that had the Indians at 25-52 headed into Fourth of July weekend. Hargrove finished out the season at a slightly more respectable 32-53, and then re-signed as the head honcho to begin the 1992 season.