Argyros, a real estate developer from Orange County, Calif., proclaimed, "Patience is for losers." So apparently is impatience. The Mariners have had six field managers and five general managers. In the shuffle, Seattle has lost or virtually given away such talented young players as Danny Tartabull, Ivan Calderon and Floyd Bannister.
"Getting traded to Seattle lets you put things in perspective," says Glenn Wilson, the Mariners' rightfielder, who came over from Philadelphia as part of a trade for Phil Bradley. "If you're successful here, you either wind up someplace else or as a free agent."
Argyros is notoriously chintzy. He won't give players multiyear contracts. And he rarely pursues big-name free agents. "He won't go out and get a Dave Righetti," complains designated hitter Ken Phelps. " Argyros says he wants to win, but who's he kidding? Ideally, he'd like to have a .500 club and also have the lowest payroll in baseball. If he got lucky and won the division, that would be icing on the cake."
To walk together to the kirk,
And all together pray,
While each to his great Father bends,
Old men, and babes, and loving friends.
You won't find God listed on the Mariners' roster, but he's always hanging around the clubhouse. According to Wilson, Seattle has more Christians than any other team in the majors. "It's truly refreshing," he says. "The Phillies had lots of heavy beer drinkers, lots of heavy coffee drinkers and lots of funny stories about what went on between the beer and the coffee drinking." Last month when the Mariners took a flight from Chicago to Seattle, the front office offered to pick up the bar tab. The bill came to $6.
Yet in 1986—after team chapel meetings had delayed a couple of pregame warmups—Balderson accused some of the more devout Mariners of sloughing off defeat as being God's will. "I thought we had a complacent bunch of people who were unwilling to accept their own failures," he says. Balderson even considered revoking the Lord's locker room pass.
I closed my lids, and kept them close,
And the balls like pulses beat.
During a spring training workout, Seattle lefthander Steve Trout told pitching coach Billy Connors, "I feel so good I can throw a strike blindfolded." Trout closed his eyes and threw one over the plate. Then he did it again.
Last season Trout merely looked as if he were pitching blindfolded. The New York Yankees got him from the Chicago Cubs after he hurled back-to-back shutouts. But in 46.1 innings with New York, the fragile, ethereal Trout was 0-4 with 37 walks, 9 wild pitches and a 6.60 ERA. "Something in New York must have blown his mind," says Connors. "He just couldn't find the plate." (Memo to Trout: Look for a white, five-sided rubber slab between the mound and the backstop.)
The Mariners landed Trout during the off-season. His $990,000-a-year contract makes him the biggest fish ever in Seattle's pond. (The Yankees are paying about half of his salary.) "He's my No. 3 starter," skipper Dick Williams announced in March. "He's going to have to show me he can't do it."