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It's probably a function of our time that former Orioles manager Mike Hargrove couldn't just up and retire yesterday in the middle of the season and with the Seattle Mariners on what became an eight-game winning streak without people wondering if there wasn't something more behind his decision than the burnout he copped to.

Worse yet, Hargrove, who guided the Cleveland Indians to five straight American League Central titles and the 1997 league pennant, is being called a quitter in some quarters. He deserves better than that, though it will likely be a long time before a general manager takes a chance on him, if he decides he wants to get back into the game.

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Meanwhile, Jerry Narron, who managed in the Orioles' farm system and was third base coach and bench coach for the late Johnny Oates here, was fired yesterday in Cincinnati, to the surprise of no one. The Reds, who some thought had a chance to contend in the National League Central going into the season, have the worst record in baseball with a roster full of non-performing players.

That list, by the way, does not include Ken Griffey, Jr., who was voted as a starter onto the National League All-Star roster. With the non-waiver trade deadline approaching at month's end, could the Mariners heal the wounds left by Hargrove's departure, by bringing Griffey home?

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