OK, first things first; I did not go down the zipline. By the time Jessica and I got to the field, there was already a ridiculously long line (all the way up from the foul line to the main concourse), and there was just no way I could have stood for that long, even with comfortable shoes, even with all my coats on. I can walk for hours, but standing is just too much for my sad back. I do not have misgivings about it, however, as when we got there we discovered that the zipline was not as terrifying heights-wise as I would have thought by looking at the pictures that were posted the previous day. If they do it next year, I will make more of an effort to get there as early as possible in order to parttake. It didn’t look scary, and it wasn’t too fast and I think I could totally do it. :)
We didn’t do the whole two hours of the STH FanFest, but I was happy to be there before the main gates opened to the public. I have already done and seen pretty much all there is to do and see there in previous years, so I think my main joy in it is merely being in the stadium so early in the year. It was nice to be inside “first”, especially since the morning was raining off and on, but it looked like the lines went fairly quickly once the gates opened, and nobody had to wait outside for too very long (other than the intrepid souls who were there already around 8 or 9 already).
I wanted to take some pictures of the future home of Edgar’s Cantina, to try and get a better understanding of how it was all going to look after it is finished. It’s still in the building stage, so I honestly have no clue how it will look when it’s done, but you can see how they’re building it, right next to the King’s Court seating:
I got the chance to say hi and talk to Gregg Greene to try and suss out what exactly is going on here, and the upper deck is going to be an open air porch, with the manual scoreboard in front of it, where the “BNB” signs are currently. The lower part with the concrete walls is where the Cantina will be, and I am assuming that Edgar’s will be taking over the old Flying Tortoise space entirely. I didn’t get much time to talk with him further about it (he’s a busy guy), but I did get out of him that there is no stairway or other method of getting up to the deck from Edgar’s. So while it would be nice to be able to go back and forth, I think I see what they’re meaning to do here.
As Jessica and I were continuing around the concourse, we ran into the Everett Aquasox booth and both of us signed up to try and win 4 tickets to the All Star game that is being played in Everett this year. I don’t win anything, but Jessica does sometimes frighteningly well, so I guess we’ll find out when it’s announced. Over the King’s Court area, they had items that I assume will eventually be taken to Cooperstown; memorabilia from Felix’s perfect game, and the six-pitcher no-hitter:
And then, because I’ve always wanted to do it but just haven’t because it has been crowded and I am not one to be in the way, a rarely-posted-to-the-blog-ever picture of me sitting in this crazy chair:
One of the few pictures you will see of me here. Enjoy. Eventually I will get one with the Dave Niehaus statue, but that is never as easy as just sitting down. Also, I feel like I should look nicer to take a picture with the Niehaus statue. I know that concept sort of thumbs its nose at reality, but maybe in the summer when it’s nice and warm and I don’t have to dress like a gothic yeti.
Some more shots of the Edgar’s area:
This last one is from below, as I’m standing next to the visitor’s bullpen. To the lower leftish-middle there, you can see the railing of the manual scoreboard, from where it is currently residing in the ‘pen as they get everything constructed.
Probably a lot of people have seen all of this, but I wanted a shot of my own. The new future-LED board. You can kind of see the blocks of lights there and how it’s all going to be put together. There are what appear to be small catwalks behind where the lighting banks will be. It will be interesting to see it in action. We stopped here and had a beer and just sort of took in the scenery. Jessica had her phone with her and took some panoramic shots:
This is a horribly out of focus picture (which I didn’t realize until just now), but it at least gives a bit of an idea of where the fences are going as opposed to where they were. It’ll take some getting used to, and it does seem like the field is really far from the bullpens now – and I will be curious to see how that plays out, with guys getting on to the field from the ‘pens now – but the fences being moved seems to have made the hitters a little happier; and, if not happier, it at least gave them something to joke about during the Dugout Dialogue.
Rick Rizzs was hosting the DD this year again, this time with newly-hired announcer Aaron Goldsmith. Goldsmith, by the way, fits in like a glove here. Outside of a few remarks made here and there about him being new to Seattle, you wouldn’t know it. He made everything look flawless, and he and Rizzs look like a good team; banter comes easily to the both of them. I am looking forward to kayaking around the Sound and listening to them on the radio this summer, because I have the feeling that a lot of games will be taken in while on a boat this year, either fishing, kayaking, or both. Almost makes me wish that Safeco was closer to the water like AT&T.
Due to starting to walk around the stadium right about at 11, we missed Franklin Gutierrez and Jesus Montero speaking, but got there just in time to catch the tail end of Nick Franklin and James Paxton.
There was a bit of distraction while Jess went to find her friend Dana, and I was trying to get my friend Su’s attention, so I didn’t hear much of what the guys said, and the session was over seemingly sooner than it started.
The next group was Blake Beavan, Carter Capps, and Tom Wilhelmsen, and Wilhelmsen came out wearing that beard hat mentioned on the promotional schedule, and sure enough, it’s pretty much what I figured it would be:
His answers were slightly muffled, and the hat came off about 3/4 of the way through, but Wilhelmsen and his antics make me long for the days of the gladiator helmets and 2009. He would have fit in so well with that bullpen.
I didn’t take any notes, though I probably should have. A lot of the audience questions are the same from year to year, and these guys are not going to give us any deep insight into what we can expect for the season, because they don’t know any more than we do. Still, this is my favorite part of the whole FanFest, to just go and listen to people talk to the players and vice versa, like you’re in your own living room. Your own massive, open air living room.
Hisashi Iwakuma, Brendan Ryan and Casper Wells came up to the “stage” next, and after Brad Adam’s warm-up questions, some woman in the crowd asked Wells about something to do with a friend of hers. It was possibly one of the most awkward things ever, because it is always awkward when people don’t have boundaries with other people, especially people they don’t know. Wells explained to the woman that he had a girlfriend, and the rest of us sort of laughed the whole thing off. There is always at least one of these questions whenever I go to something like this, and while I understand that they are questions that are important to the asker, what exactly did she think was going to happen? Wells apparently understood the question enough to respond to it, I’m still not sure exactly what the situation was, but it’s not my issue to concern myself with; it just started things off on a really bizarre note.
Another crowd member requested that Brendan Ryan do his Robert DeNiro impression, and he happily obliged, of course. We do have some fun guys on this team and while it can be difficult to remember that when all you’re seeing is win/loss numbers, I am going to try more diligently to remind myself that I really do want to see these guys – these guys specifically – win.
A small child I couldn’t see somewhere in the crowd asked the players what team the players were most looking forward to playing most this year. Iwakuma started in in Japanese while interpreter Antony Suzuki listened in. Suzuki then started to speak and said that he didn’t have much experience, and Ryan interupted saying that he had to have an answer. Iwakuma laughed, said a few words in Japanese, and then one the crowd understood, “Yankees”. That’s going to be a crowd pleaser every time, I think, but Iwakuma was of course looking forward to getting Ichiro to strike out. Brendan Ryan also asked Iwakuma how he feels about having to bat so much more this season because of the increased interleague play. His response: “I have confidence!” My transcript is out of order, so for your convenience, the whole interview and others like it from both Saturday and Sunday are located here on the Mariners website.
Jay Buhner and Eric Wedge were the following segments for the Dialogue, and I have seen and heard the two of them speak quite a few times, so Su and I decided to wander the stadium again. We encountered Beavan and Capps being interviewed by some of the local ESPN radio broadcasting team, including Shannon Drayer.
We went back to The Pen to grab a beer, and ran into S331 frequent flier Eric Norse and his lady, who I always have such a lovely time talking to, but I can never remember her name! Seeing each other once a year will do that to you, I guess, pesky Olympia residents! It was of course delightful to see you both on the yearly pilgrimage. Perhaps we will have cause to be at the same game this year, and hopefully by that time will have some baseball to celebrate.
Next up was Mike Morse, Michael Saunders and Kyle Seager. I was eager to see Morse because I hadn’t in a while, and was curious as to what he might have to say. It was then that I discovered that Morse’s at-bat song is A-Ha’s “Take On Me”, which I find funny and wonderful at the same time. I don’t remember this being the case when he was here last, though I don’t think it was this, as being a child of the new wave 80s, I believe that would have made a bit of an impression on me. Morse looks healthy and happy to be here, so I hope that it translates into a good year for him. And us. He says in his interview at the link above that Seattle was one of the places he wanted to go to if he had to leave Washington, so bonus.
Now that I’m thinking about it, I should have stayed for the Eric Wedge part of the program to ask him about Michael Saunders’ rubber band training from last season. As it was, we decided that we were going to try and leave around this time anyway. I missed both Stefan Romero and Mike Zunino’s Q&A, but I can watch them at the link (and so can you!) I had been up since 3.30AM due to a very wonky sleep schedule, so I was pretty tired at that point ( and truth be told I wound up falling asleep after dinner around 9PM later that evening), and Su and I had originally planned to go to Pyramid for a bite to eat and to meet Shannon and others for a post-Fest unwind. Unfortunately, some of the people we wanted to hang out with were either not feeling well enough to attend Saturday, or had other situations that kept them from coming up from Portland to attend the event. So it wound up being just me and Su and Shannon around some fries, a pizza and some beer, chattering about baseball and whatever else before going our separate ways. And my phone dying a quick, pitiful death because it’s a 3GS and I desperately need a replacement. Oi.
All in all, it was a fun day packed with a great lineup giving interviews, a lot of happy little kids running around, and a not-too-terribly-cold day at the ballpark. Next year, zipline. Next year.