Sunday, July 1, 2007

Grover Resigns

Seattle manager Mike Hargrove announced his resignation before Sunday's contest with Toronto. Hargrove held a post-game news conference to explain his decision, citing a lack of focus and an inability to uphold his personal standards. When discussing his role as manager this season Hargrove states:

I have never had to work at getting that level myself -- ever -- until recently. 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.

He goes on to say that his "passion [for the game] has begun to fade," after 37 years in professional baseball.

Hargrove gradually improved a troubled Mariners franchise from a .426 win % in 2005, to .481 in 2006, and .571 this season. The Mariners were in the middle of an 8 game win streak and were only 4 games behind the elite Anaheim Angels at the end of June.

Why would he step down during his most successful season since 1999? Grover cites his lack of passion and a desire to spend more time with his family as the primary reasons for leaving. The explanation Grover provides would sound perfectly reasonable if it came at the end of a season, but not right before the All-Star break.

Given Hargrove's well-publicized friction with GM Bill Bavasi, it's easy to suggest his departure was due to a series of arguments over the season, but I don't think this is the case with Hargrove. I'm obviously speculating at this point, but unless something leaks out the only person who will be able to cast a clarifying light on the situation is Hargrove himself. Given his hard-nosed personality and occasionally tense relationship with former Cleveland GM John Hart, I doubt Hargrove would allow an obnoxious general manager push him out of the job he loves.

I don't agree with the decision to abandon Seattle in the middle of the season, but I understand where Hargrove is coming from. Something caused Hargrove to realign his priority in life from the rigorous schedule of an MLB manager to being a full-time family man again. When a trigger that urgent goes off, it makes it nearly impossible to focus on one's job. Refusing to perform below his own high standards as a manager, Grover chose to address the source of his anxiety and step down. I wouldn't be surprised if the lack of family time had been weighing on his mind for the last couple seasons, but his sudden loss of focus and passion caused him to finalize his decision.

Hargrove is reportedly staying on with the Mariner's front office as a special advisor for the remainder of the season. It is unlikely that he will be offered a job to manage in the majors again after leaving his team mid-season like this.

Hargrove managed in Cleveland for 9 years (1991-1999), Baltimore for 4 (2000-2004), and Seattle for 2 1/2 (2005-2007). In addition to two World Series appearances with Cleveland (1995, 1997), Grover is currently 36th on the all-time wins list for a manager and has a career .503 win percentage. The Human Rain Delay played for Texas, San Diego, and Cleveland over 12 major league seasons as a firstbaseman and designated hitter.

Good luck with your next project, Grover.

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