What the Hell Is Going on in Seattle?

The Seattle Mariners are a semi-professional baseball team currently playing in Major League Baseball’s American League West. This week, they’re at the center of two hilarious stories.

First up, a report has appeared that last week Ken Griffey Jr. missed a chance to pinch-hit in a game because he was napping back in the clubhouse. An unnamed Mariner told the Tacoma News Tribune:

“[Griffey] was asleep in the clubhouse. He’d gone back about the fifth inning to get a jacket and didn’t come back. I went back in about the seventh inning — and he was in his chair, sound asleep.”

A second unnamed player said:

“He doesn’t sleep well at night, he’s away from his family, he’s comfortable in the clubhouse.”

Griffey grew up in the big leagues around his father (Cincinnati Reds great Ken Griffey Sr.) and entered Major League Baseball at the age of just 19. It’s certainly possible Junior is more comfortable in the clubhouse than he is in his own bed. It’s also true that Griffey’s dreams may be the only place where the Mariners are actually winning. But still – what the hell?

Junior snoozing during a game is only the third-most embarrassing thing about the 2010 Mariners, however. The second-most embarrassing thing is the case of Eric Byrnes. Byrnes was picked up by the Mariners in the off-season, but he wound up hitting just .094 in 32 at-bats. That’s a woeful 3 hits, which even on the Mariners is enough to get you cut.

Ok, the Mariners had a lousy player, and cut him. That’s ordinary enough. The twist is that Byrnes didn’t join another big league club, nor even a minor league team. No, he’s actually switched sports. Byrnes is now playing slow-pitch softball in Menlo Park, California, and he seems quite happy about it:

“This is going to be a blast. Playing with my buddies. I can’t wait for my first hit. I’m going to ask for the ball.”

What makes Byrnes so nonchalant? It might be his famously laid-back attitude. It also might be the fact that he’s still earning $11 million dollars for 2010, making him the most grossly over-paid softball player since…well, ever.

To be fair, the Mariners only paid the league minimum ($400,000) to Byrnes. It’s actually the Arizona Diamondbacks, who signed Byrnes’ guaranteed 3-year, $30 million extension for 2008-2010, who are on the hook for the rest. That means that in 2010, they paid Byrnes $11 million dollars to get 3 hits, for another team, and then leave the sport entirely. Perhaps Arizona General Manager Josh Byrnes (no relation, supposedly) will be finding himself out of the big leagues soon as well.

Nevertheless, it was a Mariners jersey Eric Byrnes was wearing just a few nights before he stepped into a new batter’s box, aluminum bat in hand, waiting to wallop an underhand pitch tossed to him at roughly 10 mph. Seattle was his last stop in the big leagues, the last rung on his slide down the ladder.

So one of Seattle’s players was asleep during a game. Another was literally one step removed from a beer-league softball team. And yet the most embarrassing thing about the Mariners right now? It’s actually their 13-21 record.