Sports

John McGrath: McClendon shouldn’t be on the hot seat

Column as I see ’em ...

New York Daily News baseball columnist Bill Madden not only covered the Yankees during their tempestuous George Steinbrenner era, he wrote a 2010 biography — “Steinbrenner: The Last Lion of Baseball” — of the man who ordered 20 managerial changes during his first 23 years as team owner.

Given Madden’s expertise on managers in crisis, it’s not surprising he listed three on Sunday whose job could be in jeopardy. The surprise is that the Mariners’ Lloyd McClendon is one of them, along with San Diego’s Bud Black and Cincinnati’s Bryan Price.

McClendon, Madden wrote, “needs a turnaround fast if he is to make it to the Fourth of July.”

McClendon obviously hasn’t gotten the jigsaw pieces to fit yet for the Mariners, whose 8-2 defeat in their series finale at Toronto was consistent with a pattern: Every time the team appears capable of going on a roll, there’s a clunker that sets it back.

But the notion McClendon already is on the hot seat finds me baffled. A candidate for American League manager of the year during his first season in Seattle, McClendon’s overall record is 107-97, which translates into a .524 winning percentage.

Of the 18 Mariners managers who preceded McClendon, only Lou Piniella, at .542, had a better winning percentage. What owner in his right mind would fire Lou Piniella?

I mean, besides Steinbrenner, who did it twice.

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From the sound of McClendon’s brief postgame chat with reporters — he cut things off on his own — the manager has enjoyed better days. But when the Mariners begin a three-game series Monday at Tampa Bay, Toronto will seem like an old memory.

McClendon’s Seahawks counterpart, Pete Carroll, doesn’t have the benefit of a schedule that allows him to forget.

The Super Bowl defeat decided by a bizarre goal-line play call in the final minute in February, Hall of Fame coach John Madden told The Los Angeles Times, will linger with Carroll long after he’s able to launch 60-yard spirals before practice.

“It will torment him forever,” Madden said. “One of the biggest gaps in sports is the difference between the winning and losing teams of the Super Bowl. They don’t invite the losing team to the White House. They don’t have parades for them. They don’t throw confetti on them.

“Does it hurt? Hell yes, it hurts you. I’m still haunted by some championship games.”

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When Rickie Fowler earned $1.8 million last week at the Players Championship, his second PGA Tour victory, he took home as much money in one day as Gary Player did over a PGA Tour career that included 24 first-place finishes.

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Harlem Globetrotters legend Marques Haynes died Friday at the age of 89. As a kid who grew up marveling at his magical dribbling ability on ABC’s “Wide World of Sports,” he was responsible for one of my most treasured childhood memories: a basketball Santa left for me under the Christmas tree.

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If you’re sensing there’s not much buzz concerning Seattle in the upcoming MLB draft, it’s because there’s no reason for buzzing — in order to sign free agent Nelson Cruz, the Mariners were required to forfeit their first-round selection.

Exchanging baseball’s defending home-run king for a high school or college prospect who might not reach the big leagues was a quandary that required about, oh, about .0001 seconds to ponder. But when the Mariners’ brain trust gathers at Safeco Field to monitor the draft June 8, there will be some grimacing at all the face cards the Houston Astros are holding.

The Astros own a No. 2 pick in the first round, a No. 5 pick in the first round, and will make two more selections — at No. 37 and No. 46 — before the Mariners are on the clock at No. 60.

Meanwhile, Houston’s first-round choice from 2012, shortstop Carlos Correa, looks like a blooming superstar. A 6-foot-4 speedster with power, Correa was leading the Double-A Texas League in every primary offensive stat before his recent promotion to the Pacific Coast League, where the 20-year old has continued to excel with the Fresno Grizzlies.

“I’ve been around a lot of great players, and Carlos is probably at the top of the list right now,” Grizzlies manager Tony DeFrancesco told the Fresno Bee. “One thing we don’t want is for Carlos to go up to the big leagues and fail, then have to come back. You hope when he does go up, he stays there for 15, 20 years and heads to the Hall of Fame.”

The Astros are 29-16 and entrenched in first place, with a five-tool shortstop poised to join the lineup around the time they select two of the top five prospects on the draft board.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

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The other night, my trivia-game teammate and I whiffed on a question: What country has the world’s oldest constitution? Egypt seemed like a reasonable guess, because it’s located around the cradle of civilization.

Wrong. The country with the world’s oldest constitution is the United States.

May the brave hearts who made this possible rest in peace.

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