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Just a goth girl and her baseball team.


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Mariners Refuse to Abuse 5K, And How You Can Help

Yep. After years of wanting to and either forgetting to set the date aside, or planning things on top of it, I am finally going to participate in this. The Mariners have been holding this event for quite a few years now, and I have never gone due to my own negligence, so now is the time. Since this is a baseball blog and I don’t want to get into some of my own life experiences here (no, I have never been abused, but I have had friends who have been), but suffice to say it’s a subject that hits a bit close to home with me.

I’m not a runner or athlete of any kind, but I can walk like a crazy person and not get tired, and 3+ miles is really not that much of a big deal for me. If the weather is cool (which is a big if, in July), I will even wear a full-body fleece set of pajamas I got that make me look like a big cat. I don’t know anything about 5K events, but I have seen enough pictures to know that people dress up and wear funny hats and whatnot, and I wouldn’t want to miss out on any fun. If it’s hot, I’ll opt for something maybe a bit more sensible, like exercise clothing, and probably toss on some Mariners gear for good measure.

In any event, you can learn about the event here and register for it (a $40 fee gets you on their list), learn more about it here at this link, and it benefits these fine folks at the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, whose website helped me help my friends.  If you’d like to help me raise more money, I have a donation site located here, with a picture of me in the aforementioned fleece PJs.


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Mariners FanFest 2015: The Furbush/Wilhelmsen Comedy Half Hour

Yesterday started off pretty early for me, around 7 or so. I took my time getting ready to leave, packed my camera and whatnot into this backpack I was given for Christmas that is made of baseball leather and has red stitching on the outside (and more room in it for things than my laptop bag has), and headed off down the street to the bus stop. It is probably pretty warm out this morning too, as people are gathering for today’s event, and it was unseasonably warm yesterday. A bit of a sprint and a short bus ride later, and I was downtown, headed for the field.

I made my way through downtown towards Jimmy’s, where I’d planned to have breakfast, found a seat in the back of the bar (which was already quite full, likely of both Mariners fans and people going to the Seattle Boat Show across the street), ordered my breakfast, and relaxed. I want to say I was there around 9AM or maybe a little thereafter. I took a very leisurely bit of time to eat, then went over and planted myself in line at the left field gates around 10A. And here is where I give a recommendation; get there an hour early. Last year, Su and I didn’t get there until after 11, and the lines were insane. Get there a little early, deal with standing for a bit, and you get in in no time.

After the gates opened, I had a job to do, so Su and I parted ways – she for Dugout Dialogue, and I for Select-a-Seat. I met a very nice fellow who gave me a sheet with the four options for 20-game plans (which is so much nicer and compact than the 10 or so plans they used to have for 16 games), and asked me where I’d like to sit in the stadium. I tried to get my old seats from a few years ago, but they were gone for that plan, so I settled for the two next to them. We chatted about the Mariners Fan Fest vs those of other teams. I need to say something about how good we have it in Seattle as fans. Some teams hold their yearly winter festivals for the public at places other than their home fields, and some don’t have them at all. The Mariners organization has done a very nice job of opening the park and giving fans mostly free reign of the main and lower concourses, and access to parts of the field that we wouldn’t ordinarily have, like the team’s clubhouse and the rooftop control room – which isn’t all that impressive in itself, but getting to see a little bit about the park itself (rather than focus on the game) is educational at the least, and frankly kind of neat. The Mariners have also done a good job of using all the main bits of the park; tons of bouncy houses for kids around the main concourse, zip line in right field, tee ball in center, and catch in left, with the ever-present ROOT Sports news desk by home plate, and the ability to walk onto the field from first base to third and the visitor’s dugout; something I do just about every year and never get tired of. So yeah. We have it pretty good here.

So after I gave this friendly stranger who works for the Marines a boatload of money and he explained the next steps in the payment plan process, we shook hands, and I went on my merry way to meet Su. But not before stopping at the King’s Court area, and voting for what shirt will be given out next year. I am sure they will do multiple designs, like ever year, but frankly this was my favorite:

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Next up in my travels was this:

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That is a rough picture, and I apologize; cell phone and me trying to stay out of people’s way. In any event, this is being taken to Arizona to meet up with the Seahawks in their Super Bowl endeavors. Normally, I wouldn’t think twice about this; but since it looks like history is being made, I decided to sign it, in the lower left corner (was not signed when this picture was taken): Go Hawks! Go Mariners! and then the scribble that passes for my signature. Several hours later, we would walk back past this thing, and there was barely any room on it. People were signing on the back. They’ll need another one for today’s event!

I took a stroll around left field and the third base side of the park, where there were several organizations set up for charity donations, joining or supporting local baseball and softball organizations, the 710 ESPN booth, a kiosk where you could buy game-used gear, one where the Diamond Club was set up with chairs and tables (probably the closest I will ever get to actually being in the Diamond Club), and finally I located Su sitting over the Mariners dugout waiting for the next folks to show up and talk at Dugout Dialogue.

Next up to discuss the game was Jack Zduriencik and Lloyd McClendon, who sat down and responded to questions from Dave Sims, Aaron Goldsmith, and then the audience at hand.

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Two of the questions of note were about Ichiro and Michael Saunders. A fan asked what basically amounted to a question that placed some degree of assumption on the front office having even looked at bringing back Ichiro as an option. Zduriencik handled it well. He basically stated that Ichiro was never an option for this club this year, while still maintaining the degree of respect they have for the player and his game. On the record, I’m just going to say that if Ichiro ever plans his last year, I really hope they do something as a feel-good signing for his last season here, like they did with Ken Griffey Jr. He might not play in the capacity we’re all used to seeing, but it would be nice to have him back one last time. A kid next to me asked a question about how McClendon plans to use the outfield, and as names and positions were rattled off, my brain went to “Hey, what about Michael Saunde- aw man!” Immediately after this, someone did ask a question about why Saunders wasn’t kept, and Zduriencik said that while they did like Saunders, we had a need for starting pitching, and thus JA Happ was acquired in that deal. No drama, just straight up fact. If you’re looking for controversy, Jack’s not going to give it to you.

Next up were Taijuan Walker and James Paxton, with Walker sporting some new frames and a sweet pair of fingerless gloves, though honestly I was sitting out there with only a sweater on. It was a nice day yesterday. Even texting and using Twitter, my own fingers stayed pretty warm. First time ever; usually during this event it’s 30F and raining out.

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A short break later, and Brad Adam appeared, as did Austin Jackson and JA Happ.

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Full disclosure, we didn’t stick around for this one. Su was hungry, and I wanted to check out The Pen, so we left about midway through, with JA Happ giving some praise to Jackson for his fielding work.

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We wound through a maze of bouncy houses, a line to have your picture taken at “Let the Arrow Fly” out near the Moose Den (basically, there is a dirt mound, some grass, a photo background, and you do the Fernando Rodney thing), then the Moose Den itself. I recovered a schedule from Select-a-Seat so I could let my friend Eric (Red Sox fan) know when he should avail himself for a Sunday game against Boston, Su cast her vote for the Felix shirts, and then we went downstairs to Edgar’s and watched adorable tiny children play catch with their parents.

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Su got a bacon-wrapped hotdog and a beer, my friend Tom and I had beer (breakfast was huge, I did not need lunch in the least), another Tom showed up and we chatted a bit about this and that, and after Tom #2 left, the three of us stood around and chatted until we realized that it was almost time to see Nelson Cruz take some questions. So back upstairs, another walk around the third base side of the park, and back to the dugout!

Cruz was just settling in with Dave Sims, and the three of us snuck in as close as we could.

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Cruz was asked about everything from how much he liked it here to how he felt about our facilities in the Dominican Republic, to not having to play against Felix. Cruz said he was very glad to not have to face Felix, and also not to have to deal with the “Ks in left field“.  While part of me thinks it was just a friendly appeal to his new fanbase, part of me would love to think that having 200 people yell for your failure might get into a player’s head eventually. Cruz said that while people in the DR do wear Mariners gear, fans are more likely to follow individual players, rather than a whole team. I got the impression that the team’s baseball-building facilities in his country might be doing some good for younger players who really want to make it to MLB.

Next up were John Hicks and Alex Jackson (who will eventually trip me up with Austin Jackson), two of our minor leaguers. Jackson is 19. Rick Rizzs hosted them, and the fan Q&A seemed longer than the previous sessions. Wonderfully enough, almost every single question asked of these two were asked by children, both boys and girls. Some of them were serious, some were just sweet, but it was nice to see so much interest in the game from a younger generation.

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Hicks and Jackson, for their part, seemed a little nervous on the dais, but I am sure they’ll get better and more comfortable with practice.

Next up, the comedy duo of Furbush and Wilhelmsen…

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They put these two together last year, and it was a huge hit for those in attendance. Lots of joking around with Rizzs and Goldsmith and each other. Wilhelmsen kept the beard hat on for longer this year than he did last year, but so far has not made it through an entire interview with the thing on.

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Then a fan in the audience, one of the 4 Old Bats, brought up the song “Build Me Up Buttercup“, which prompted this:

More talk of Wilhelmsen’s dancing, and then this happened:

There is a small chance that both of these videos may be pulled, because somehow me posting a few seconds of a song violates someone’s copyright rules (and you can’t have fun on the internet), but I hope that people can enjoy them if at all possible. If not, there are better copies of said events filmed by the Mariners themselves here, and those are also one after the other, with better sound and film quality than my Canon. Any way, much fun was had, and I don’t remember a whole lot of what was said because I was either laughing or lamenting the fact that I am really going to miss these guys when they’re gone. But for now, I will enjoy them as much as possible while they’re here. Our bullpen is still pretty weird, and I love it.

The last two speakers for the day were DJ Peterson and Patrick Kivlehan, and yes I had to look that last one up just to be sure on spelling. Their segment was much lower key than their predecessors, and they spoke about their careers so far, and coming back from various injuries. Also, thanks to a girl sitting in back of us at the time, I now know that Kivlehan’s favorite food is strawberries, while Peterson prefers Mexican food of all kinds.

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Peterson was also asked by a boy sitting in a row in front of him whether or not he would ever get his hair cut like “The Boz”. Much shock all around initially, as I think most people have more or less forgotten about Brian Bosworth and his antics from the 1980s, and Aaron Goldsmith was impressed the kid even knew the name. Peterson declined, he likes his hair just fine the way it is, thank you.

After a quick sweep downstairs to see if we had missed much of anything in the clubhouse level, Su and I went back to her car and tooled back over to my neck of the woods in West Seattle, where we dropped some stuff off at the house and then proceeded to Beveridge Place for some beer and food. We were joined by one person from LookoutLanding, Cody Morris, part-owner and brewer for Gastropod Brewpub, and soon a new location in South Lake Union (which will apparently feature Indonesian food, I am looking forward to it). We did talk about baseball and football, but I’ve always been interested in the art of brewing beer, and I learned a lot from him over the course of the evening. A few of my friends randomly showed up there just because they were looking for some place to go, and we had a table of beer, pizza from Peel and Press, and lots of good discussion. A great way to end an excellent day.

Lastly, for those of you who might be worried about the new takeover of Elysian Brewpub by Annheuser-Busch, don’t be. Things are going to stay the same. I would go into that more, but this isn’t a beer blog. Just rest assured that your beer and food will remain untouched by the large corporations; though they may have to get rid of that Loser Ale, for obvious reasons.

For anyone going to FanFest today, have a great time. I hear the temperatures are supposed to be over 60F today, and maybe they’ll open up the roof! Go Mariners!

 

 


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Mariners New Alternate Uniforms, Fan Fest Reminder

It’s around 10AM as I start writing this one, and apparently press and bloggers alike are gathering down at Safeco Field for today’s announcement of new Sunday alternate uniforms. I hope they live up to the hype, as my Twitter feed has been a neverending stream of guesses as to what they’ll look like for the past 24-36 hours or so. The last time we did this, I seem to remember it being bringing the all-gray unis back. The time before that, it was that awful teal color. I know that holds a lot of memories for fans, but I have never been a huge fan of the color teal, and it also reminds me of the Miami Dolphins uniforms from the 1980s.

I am currently being told that Ichiro Suzuki has landed with the Florida (Miami?) Marlins, and it is a positive that he stays in MLB, but also I just have no love or concern for the Marlins one way or the other. I saw them play twice last year when I was on the east coast, and while it was fun because it was baseball, I just don’t care. I feel very apathetic about the Marlins, just like the Reds, the Astros, and most of the AL/NL Central. For Ichiro’s part, he will get to wear bright colors, as a friend of mine pointed out on Twitter, and he will get back the freedom to do with his facial hair whatever he wants, so I guess that is a positive for him, but I wish it were a team that I really liked. Can’t win them all, I guess.

The press conference started out with Rick Rizzs, reciting a history of the Mariners uniforms and uniforms in general through the years since 1977. Several still photos were shown in montage of uniforms from the trident and powder blues to the compass and crisp whites and navy that we have today. He went through a brief description of how the white unis were going to be altered, mainly the lettering. From the Mariners Twitter account:

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I like this change. It makes the lettering pop more, and the navy kind of tones down the obnoxiousness of the teal. I don’t know that I had ever noticed the white stitching before; uniforms are just kind of there, and you don’t think about the way they look outside of being on a player until a change like this is made. An improvement for sure. The same look is also going to be applied to the back lettering of players names and numbers.

Then Rizzs announced Taijuan Walker, James Paxton, Charlie Furbush and Nelson Cruz to the stage, and these will be our new Sunday alternates. All I can say is, WOW.

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The color is a cream without being too cream, and the mix of old school blue with navy is a nice touch. And the socks. Don’t even get me started on the socks. First of all, I wear knee socks almost every day. I love them. I would wear both of these unironically and unapologetically, in public. I really really hope the club decides to put them up for sale. I have been very envious of the St Louis Cardinals red stripes for quite some time now, and this is just perfect.

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The back. I tried to cap it before they turned around, but only sort of succeeded with Walker. I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, the nod to the old days of the game without names on the back and the concept of “playing for the team” is a nice gesture. But there are times I have difficulty tracking who is who, so I guess I either have to become really familiar with numbers, or just pay attention harder than normal. That first option is a little easier; hey, I have to talk to friends and stuff during the game. Going to the ballpark is not without its distractions. Still, these are great.

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Rizzs interviewed everyone on what they thought and of course, the reviews were a unanimous thumbs up. Maybe the guys like them truly, maybe they don’t; frankly, I can’t see how they wouldn’t, these are pretty nice. The hats with the old “S” on them are a great homage to the past of the team as well. There is literally nothing about these that I don’t like. Well done, Mariners.

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And with that, these players are on stage because they are in town for this weekend’s Seattle Mariners Fan Fest. Fan Fest is the appetizer before a very long wait for the best meal ever in April, and every year I enjoy going. This year, I am going to make an entire day of it. I plan to take a bus down rather than deal with parking, and treat myself to breakfast somewhere, then go and get my ticket and stand on line early or go into the park when the lines clear, or whatever happens to strike me as the Thing To Do at the time. Then, just baseball it up for the next few hours until they kick us all out.

Also, a reminder that some friends and I will be gathering at Beveridge Place Pub around 5PM tomorrow for drinks, maybe some food, and baseball talk or whatever we decide to chat about. This is not a structured meeting at all, just a chance to hang out and talk about baseball in a casual setting with other fans. It might be just me and Su, it might be a bunch of people, I don’t know. But after this pretty exciting uniform announcement and what I am hoping to be a great day chilling out at the ballpark, I hope to see some folks there. If nothing else, think of it as a chance to unwind on a Saturday evening.

See you at the ballpark!


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Everett AquaSox Name New GM

More from the good folks up north in Everett…

Everett, WA – The Everett AquaSox announced today that Danny Tetzlaff has been named General Manager. Tetzlaff has been in minor league baseball for over 13 years, serving most recently as General Manager of the expansion Yakima Valley Pippins (West Coast League). He has served as both a General Manager and Assistant General Manager with several successful organizations, including three years with the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs.

“After previously working in the Northwest League with the Yakima Bears, I am excited and humbled to have this amazing opportunity with the Everett AquaSox,” said Tetzlaff, “I am looking forward to being a part of the tradition already in place in Everett, and making summers at Everett Memorial Stadium even more memorable in 2015.”

In his new role with the AquaSox, Tetzlaff will work closely with Team President Pat Filippone and oversee the day-to-day operations of the club.

“We are looking forward to having Danny as a part of our team in Everett,” said Filippone, “His proven track record of success at multiple levels within Minor League Baseball make him an asset for the franchise and our growth in the future.”

A graduate of UNC-Charlotte, Tetzlaff was named 2006 Pioneer League Executive of the Year while with the Casper Rockies after leading the Rockies to the nation’s fourth-largest attendance jump in all of minor league baseball.

 

Thanks, Katie!

 


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Everett AquaSox Announce 2015 Coaching Staff

From the old email inbox this morning!

Everett, WA – With a new season of AquaSox baseball just around the corner the Mariners have officially announced the 2015 Everett coaching staff. Manager Rob Mummau, Pitching Coach Jason Blanton, and Hitting Coach Mike Davis will lead the Sox this summer.

Rob Mummau begins his 14th season with the Mariners organizations in 2015, returning as Everett’s manager after spending the 2014 season managing the Pulaski Mariners of the Appalachian League in Pulaski, VA. Mummau led the Sox to a first half Northwest League division championship in 2012 and an overall division championship in 2013. A 1993 graduate of James Madison University, Rob Mummau was selected in the 29th round of the 1993 draft by the Toronto Blue Jays. He played in the Blue Jays organization for seven years including the last four seasons at AAA Syracuse.

Mike Davis will be returning to Everett this season to continue his work as the AquaSox hitting coach after debuting in Everett in 2014. Before his coaching career, Davis made a name for himself spanning over a decade in the major leagues, as a player for the Oakland Athletics (1980-1987) and the Los Angeles Dodgers (1988-1989). He is most remembered as the Dodger who earned the base on balls in the bottom of the ninth of Game 1 of the World Series, stole second base, and ultimately scored on Kirk Gibson’s walk-off home run that won the game for Los Angeles.

Jason Blanton will be making his debut as the AquaSox pitching coach in 2015. Blanton spent the 2014 season alongside Rob Mummau in Virginia as the pitching coach for the Pulaski Mariners. Born in San Antonio, Jason Blanton was originally selected by Boston in the 28th round of the June draft but did not sign. In 2001, he was selected by the Chicago Cubs in the 12th round of the June draft out of North Carolina State and pitched for the Cubs minor league system for three seasons.

The AquaSox Home Opener is June 18 at 7:05pm versus the Eugene Emeralds. Season tickets, group outings and both 12 and 16 game packages are available now, and single game tickets will be available in mid-May. Call (425) 258-3673 or visit aquasox.com for more information.

I am hoping to make it up to more games this year, but with the increased number of Mariners games in my soon-to-be-purchased season ticket package, I don’t know that I will have time. I would love to be able to report on the home opener, but things get terribly cramped in that booth with all the folks who are actually paid to be there, and one spot they give to a blogger is a spot that could be another spot or some elbow room for someone who truly needs to be there doing paid work, so if I wind up going, it’ll likely be as a spectator. Also conspiring against me is the fact that it’s on a Thursday, and over 25 miles away. We’ll see. Looking forward to seeing the roster for the Sox finalized this year.

 


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Some Mariners Thoughts On A Seahawks Afternoon

I am sacked out on the couch using Tom’s laptop because mine is still having issues. The heater is on against the fog and damp cold of outside, the cats are sleeping, the Ravens are playing the Patriots on TV, and downtown, a vast majority of Seattle’s population is drinking, eating, and gearing up to go crazy at around 5pm, as the Seahawks take the field against the Carolina Panthers. I am very excited about today’s game and tomorrow’s Green Bay game against the Cowboys, because the closer we get to the end of football, the closer we get to the beginning of baseball. I just feel like writing today.

Robinson Cano was given permission to play in some winter league games in the DR recently. I know a lot of people don’t really like when players do this, since they run the risk of getting injured, and I have to say I’m not totally a fan of it either. But I have to just trust Cano to know his limitations and not play too hard and be careful. If nothing else, as the article mentions, he can test out his broken little toe and make sure that he is feeling his best going into Spring Training.

Speaking of Spring Training, tickets have gone on sale already, and there are apparently vacation packages you can also purchase (though I seem to have sent that email off into the ether never to be recovered). I would eventually like to make the trip down, maybe take in a week. We have friends in Tucson, so it would be nice to combine a visit with them and a bit of ST baseball. I think, though, that a trip to Chase Field and Alice Cooperstown will probably occur before spending a week in Surprise will. If I cannot fit a trip to Denver in this year (finances need to be moved around to accommodate season tickets this year, and having medical, car, and pet emergencies in November and December did not help much at all, unfortunately), I am planning two trips next year; one to Coors Field and the other to Chase Field. Spring Training may have to wait another few years, or until I get a much better job, whichever comes first. The trip I took east in April last year was maybe one of the most fun things I’ve ever done; and there are 27 more stadiums waiting to be discovered!

The Mariners quiet but powerful offseason unfortunately didn’t inspire me to write much at the time, but I am trying to right that ship. The acquisition of Justin Ruggiano from the Cubs was a head scratcher for me at the time, but I hadn’t read much on what we needed or who he was until today. I have the tendency to stockpile Seattle Times emails and hope that eventually I’ll have something to say about the news. Ruggiano seems like he fits a very big need for us right now, and sounds like the kind of guy who is willing to just step in wherever he’s needed so long as he can play the game. According to Fangraphs, Steamer has his projections for 2015 going up a smidge; walk rates up, strikeout rates down, WAR up, hits up…Ruggiano’s offense is all slated to go down, but he must have some serious plate discipline. Having a career OPS of .836 is nothing to shake a stick at – the man can walk. If we can get a good cleanup hitter in back of him, this is going to be a really super interesting year for us.

At the time the article linked above was penned, the Ms were also taking a look at Seth Smith, who they then went and traded for with the Padres. This was a hard one for me; I was a big Brandon Maurer fan. From his timid and unsuccessful entry into the roster as a starter, to his intense, lights-out relief work last year, I have been really rallying for Maurer to find his groove, and was happy when he did in the bullpen. But again, we needed offense, so Jack Z picked some up for us in the form of Smith, who is another guy who can hit right-handed pitching. Smith also has a good WAR projection for next year, though down from last year, and his projected slash line is competitive with his younger years playing in Colorado, where the air is thin and balls just go.  Petco Park and Safeco Field are about the same distance from sea water, so I am hoping that translates into similar numbers for Smith as last year, when his line was .266/.367/.440. Smith’s OPS last year was .807. All of these numbers are supposed to go down this year, but not by much.

However the Mariners decide to use these two next year, it looks like we have definitely made improvements. Quiet and not-too-sexy improvements, but even not-too-sexy improvements can turn into the sexiest improvements ever when applied under the right conditions. After actually being able to read up a little on these two players, I am feeling more confident than ever that Zduriencik did the right thing, and spent very little money doing it. We are in for a pretty exciting season, in my humble opinion.

The Seahawks game is on in a half hour and Tom wants his laptop back, so this is all I have to say today. I am looking forward to the start of baseball with the kind of excitement I haven’t had in a while, and I absolutely love it. 2015 is going to be a good one.


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Randy Johnson, Hall of Famer

I haven’t been able to get to this until today, due to a broken laptop power cord, and the previous post that I was in the middle of while we were all waiting to hear the news about the HOF voting. Of course, I never knew Randy Johnson as a Mariner, except in legend. I’ve seen clips, heard the calls of Dave Niehaus (several of which were played the other day on 710 ESPN, much to my delight), and am aware of that one time he did this, which was such an improbable situation that a show that aired a few years ago on FSN called Sports Science attempted to duplicate it with a game hen, a live pitcher, and a pitching machine, and could not. If you search for the clip on YouTube, some people are even referring to it as a hoax; as if live baseball is somehow faked. But I guess that is how unbelievable Johnson’s pitching was. And it really was.

As everyone is well aware, Johnson was inducted the other day into the Baseball Hall of Fame. I have not yet had time to pour over the numerous articles on the day and how it played out for the inductees, but I’m getting to everything gradually. CBS Sports has this article with a few video clips of the group of John Smolz, Johnson, Craig Biggio and Pedro Martinez talking to the press and joking around. They seem tentative, almost a little embarrassed to be up there, as if they either don’t feel they deserve the honor, or simply can’t comprehend that they’re actually there. And it might be a little bit of both. None of them could be more wrong, but it seems to demonstrate that baseball players start out as and remain these giant kids who just can’t believe their luck. Also, in the second clip, if Pedro Martinez isn’t the most adorable thing, I don’t know who is.

For my part, I only saw Johnson pitch live once; he was at the end of his career, he was in his 40s, and it was the last year he played baseball, for the San Francisco Giants. I remember being at the end of a pay period when the game came around, and scraping up enough money to get into a very crowded Safeco Field to see him (finding seats was a chore, indeed; the stadium was absolutely full, like Opening Day full). I wound up sitting somewhere in the 335-340 range in the upper deck, but I didn’t care. I took pictures of him warming up downstairs in the visitors bullpen. I’m not a fighter for position down in The Pen, but that day had to be an exception. I got there early, nabbed one of the last remaining spaces up front, and waited. Getting out of that crowd after snapping off several shots was a chore. Everyone wanted to see him. I took (not great, as I didn’t have the Canon I currently use at the time) pictures of him during the game. I am currently using Tom’s computer and cannot remember my YouTube password, otherwise I’d post the video of the roaring standing ovation in Safeco Field when Johnson walked off the mound. He didn’t make a huge deal out of it, just tipped his hat to everyone, and walked to the dugout. I don’t think you would find a single person in that building that day who would have minded if Johnson beat us; but it was not to be. Jason Vargas led us to a 2-1 victory. These were the 2009 Mariners, and we were doing OK that year, so I am simultaneously not surprised that we did well that game, and shocked beyond measure that we won, since, if memory serves, Johnson was pulled in the 6th or 7th inning. It was May, it was cold, and I could not have been more happy that I got to go.

Johnson will, of course, go into the Hall as an Arizona Diamondback. That caused an online stir as well; a lot of people didn’t seem happy about it, but none of them should be surprised. Arizona was where Johnson did what any baseball player sets out to do; win a World Series. It’s where he set a ton of records, where he has several business interests, and the place he calls home. In spite of his long tenure here and the wonderful things he did and all the love Seattle fans have for him, he clearly feels like Phoenix is where he belongs. Regardless of how upset anyone might be that he will not don Mariners gear for the Hall, I feel he easily deserves to present himself however he likes. So for those of you who might be upset, suck it up; your time will come soon. Like in the next ten years soon.

There is a lot that could be said about Randy Johnson by more learned people who were actually there. Indeed, my Twitter feed has been buzzing about this since it happened on Tuesday from fans and press members who lived through Johnson’s tenure in this city, and remember it fondly. Shannon Drayer was on the Michael Gray Show the other morning talking about being warned to not speak with Johnson prior to the game (Randy of course was notorious for his pre-game anti-social behavior), and other memories of Johnson’s character that she shared were fun to listen to. I wish I had even a fraction of the knowledge about Johnson that other Mariners fans have, but all I have is this one memory of this one game. He was nearly done, but that made him no less impressive to me. I will never forget it. It is very rare for me to remember scores of individual games, so the fact that I remember this one should tell you how important it was to me to be there. Alas, I didn’t even live in Seattle when he pitched here, and if you’d told me back in the 90s that some day I’d be really into baseball, I would have laughed in your face. So I envy all of you who grew up watching this guy. He was special, and you’re very lucky.

Johnson went on after baseball to become an absolutely fantastic photographer. His forte’ seems to lie in concert shots. I have seen a lot of live concert photography in my time, that having been a former life of sorts, and Johnson is truly impressive. For his part, RJ seems to have a sense of humor about his past, as this is the logo for his company:

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 5.07.36 AMWhen Ichiro and Ken Griffey Jr get in, I might have to pay Cooperstown another visit. Congratulations, Randy Johnson, on your induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

 

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