Really good article by Shannon Drayer about the dugout scuffle last night:
Why Figgins? Why Now and What Next?
The season of losing has taken a toll as tempers flared tonight when Don Wakamatsu took Chone Figgins out of game for failing to back up a play at second base. The ball thrown by Michael Saunders skipped by him and Mike Cameron was able to take third base on what should have been a double.
The visiting NESN cameras caught the argument that ensued in the dugout. Figgins had to be separated from Wak For an account here is my post from earlier tonight.
When Wak addressed the media he said that the issue at hand was another mistake. Why bench Figgins after all of the mistakes we have seen this season? In his eyes this was different. This wasn't a mental lapse, this was about effort.
While I don't think there is any excuse to go after the manager, I do think I can offer some insight into why Figgins got so fired up.
Figgins believes he gives maximum effort at all times. It is his personal identity. It is work that got him to where he is today. He sticks to strict routines. He says he loves the game so much that when he is not playing baseball he's watching it on television. Baseball is his life.
"I come to play," is his motto. I actually talked to him about what this meant before today's game.
"You come to play every day and you want to take the field for your nine innings and take your five at bats regardless of if it is going good or if it is going bad. Give me my nine innings, give me my five at bats and I will give you everything I have got whether it is good or bad and I will try to help you win. Just come to play every day."
If Figgins believed he gave everything on that play then in that moment being taken out was an insult and he reacted when he was not able to get his point across in the heat of the battle. Emotions are at a different level during a game. Things are different. I am not defending Figgins actions here, I am just telling you what I think happened from what I know of him.
Russell Branyan who defended Wakamatsu both in the dugout and in his postgame interview. He also looked out for his teammate heading back down to the clubhouse to talk to Figgins later in the game.
"I think he is a litlle misinterpreted at times. He sat right there in his chair and watched the rest of the game supporting his team. I know a lot of guys in that situation would have come in showered up and went home."
Why did he go check on Figgins?
"I think it was needed. When you have a situation like that you want to keep your group together. You don't want to have guys straying away and going on their own. We are a twenty-five man team here and we want to keep it that way."
Things like this happen in challenging years. The atmosphere is not good and it is a struggle just to keep it together. Just this week a player told me that the dugout was like a morgue during games. Another player told me that Sweeney's presence is missed. Tensions are high as guys become increasingly frustrated with their inability to produce at the plate. It doesn't help one bit that they are for the most part all in the same boat.
What now? Well for starters Wak and Figgins need to find understanding. I have little doubt that Wak knew this move would not set well but he was doing his job. Still, maybe Figgins needs to be heard. The Seattle Times is reporting Jack Zduriencik will meet with both tomorrow.
Something is not right with Figgins and maybe Jack can help get to the bottom of that. In talking to people in Anaheim last week I got the very clear picture that the Figgins we are seeing here both on the field and in the clubhouse is not the Figgins they saw there. Maybe it is the losing. Maybe he is not comfortable in his new surroundings. He is a part of the future of this team and this needs to get figured out.
As for the rest of the team, all they can do is continue to work.