If Piniella was concerned about Oakland’s victory over Anaheim, or Cleveland’s early lead over Minnesota, or his own team’s must-win game against Texas, he hid it well.
Told that Oakland had a 7-6 lead over Anaheim midway through their game, Piniella shrugged.
“That’s a little of a concern to me,” he said. “Not just the A’s winning, but the Angels scoring so many runs. That’s why it’s important to do well in the last two games of this Texas series before we go down there (to Anaheim).”
Piniella moved on to other topics, but 15 minutes later his attention jumped back to the race.
“How did Oakland do?” he asked, looking at scores scrolling across the bottom of the TV screen. “They won 9-7? OK, now we get to watch for the Cleveland score.”
Piniella has said the past two weeks that his only concern is winning his own games, but he’s keenly aware of what the other playoff contenders are doing.
“We’ve gone 16-8 the last 24 games, but Oakland just happens to be 19-5 in that time,” he said. “We’re playing good baseball, but you can’t look back. We’ve got five games to go. We’re basically tied for the division lead and we’ve got a two-game lead in the wild-card.
“All you can do is go forward.”
That’s the way it should be, Mariners pitcher Paul Abbott says.
“We were sending college basketball players, but they lose once (to the Soviets in 1972) and now we have the top stars,” he said. “I like how we’re doing it now in baseball with the minor-league guys.”
While not enthralled with the idea of major leaguers at the Games, Abbott wouldn’t mind experiencing it.
“It would be special to put a USA baseball jersey in a frame and hang it in my house with a gold medal around it,” Abbott said.
As director of team travel, Spellecy is responsible for moving players, coaches and team officials to each major league city and back, making sure flights are comfortable and on time and that the beds are made when they hit the hotels.
His travel plans for next week, however, are as ruffled as a maid’s feather duster.
With several scenarios possible after the Mariners’ final regular-season game Sunday, the only thing Spellecy knows for certain is that the Mariners will fly to Anaheim tonight for a three-game series. When Sunday comes, the team could be headed back to Seattle, to Chicago or New York.
“I’ve got all the airplanes, hotels, buses and trucks notified,” he said.
One complicating factor is that the team will learn its destination over the weekend and Spellecy knows he probably won’t reach his contacts at the office.
“If we’re going to A, B or C, I need to have a phone number for everybody, because once we learn where we’re going, I can call and tell them we’re on our way.”