Though I think we can safely rule out Mike Hargrove bailing on the Mariners in order to spend more time with Jerry Narron’s family, ESPN’s Rob Neyer was amongst the first national commentators whose bullshit detector went off yesterday afternoon. And you can count the Seattle Times’ Steve Kelley as another observer who has concluded “nothing about this makes sense.”

Did Hargrove want a three-year contract extension the Mariners were unwilling to give him? Did he want more of a voice in personnel decisions? Is it possible Hargrove got tired of the tango he had to play with the front office and felt there were no options left for him?

Let’s face it, he never seemed happy here. He wasn’t embraced by the fans, who wanted more emotion from him. Regular calls for his firing started midway through his first season.

He suffered, as did his predecessor Bob Melvin, from all the unfair comparisons to Lou Piniella.

But why leave now, when the team has turned around, when the city finally is warming to him?

Aside from refusing to play mindreader with Hargrove, Dave at U.S.S. Mariner insists “managers just don™t make as much of a difference as most people believe.”

There are a few exceptionally good and bad ones, but in general, good teams win in spite of bad managers and bad teams lose in spite of good managers. We™ve laid out our issues with some of Hargrove™s beliefs, and a couple of days ago, we actually complimented how he™s handled the bullpen. So he has done some good things and some bad things.

But, I™m not particularly worried about how the team is going to do under John McLaren. The talent on the field isn™t changing, and this team isn™t 11 games over .500 because of Mike Hargrove. John McLaren is his own guy, and things will probably change in some ways, but in the end, the team is still the team.

In the end, I™m interested to see how McLaren manages and am optimistic that there™s a chance that some of the things the team has done that drive me nuts might end. But, really, this isn™t likely to be a huge deal either way. Managers just don™t really matter all that much.

In any event, Hargrove’s sudden unemployment should leave the veteran skipper with plenty of time to visit the nation’s art museums.