Have gone to both Friday’s and Saturday’s games, with no relief from losses to the Cleveland Indians. Of course, when I’m nowhere near the stadium, the Ms decide to give King Felix the win he so righteously deserves. Good for them, I am absolutely glad for it.
Last night’s USS Mariner and Lookout Landing event, of course, I cannot talk about. First rule, and all of that. I can, however, show some photos…
Conor and I arrived at separate times, but both still far too early for gates to open for the group. When they finally did, we were greeted at the door with a fairly nice fleece blanket; it’s nothing that is super substantial, but it is absolutely the perfect size and material for fighting off the late summer post-sunset chill, and with the giant compass logo emblazoned on it, is all Mariners. Hopefully, they do another one next year.
The discussion started off rather similarly to the one earlier this year at Benaroya Hall – the guys from Lookout and USSM took a few questions from people asked at random for about 45 minutes to an hour or so, and then Jack Zduriencik, Tony Blengino, and Tom McNamara showed up after that to take some questions that Dave Cameron had collected from fans in previous weeks. What made this event far more cool than any of the other four or so I’ve been to, however, was the fact that it took place while we were sitting in the actual stadium – so as the front office answered questions, the Mariners took the field for batting practice. It is an unusual thing to be in an empty SafeCo during times where I’m not picking out season seats.
From left to right, that’s Jeff Sullivan and Matthew Carruth from Lookout Landing, and Dave Cameron and Jay Yenich from USSM; sorry to Jay for cutting most of his head out of the photo, I was sitting at a rather awkward angle. In the background under the 710 ESPN sign, Rick Rizzs, Dave Niehaus and Mike Blowers prepare for the evening’s radio broadcast.
The Mariners gradually filed out onto the field, did their running and stretching drills, and goofed around on the field. Earlier on, we’d seen Ryan Rowland-Smith taking some relaxed tosses with one of the other guys (may have been either Adam Moore or the bullpen catcher Jason Phillips). Seeing Hyphen in uniform again on the grass caused a little bit of a quiet stir in our section. Meanwhile, the other guys took care of the business of warming up…
Ichiro then proceeded to hit several soft throws from the pitching assistant over the fence at various points, one of the hits sailing over to make a loud *plonk!* on the Las Vegas sign near the Hit It Here Cafe. This caused several people in attendance – myself included – to laugh quietly.
The Indians started to file out of the visitor’s dugout as the meeting drew to a close, and some gathered to watch the Ms hit before grouping up to do running and stretching exercises of their own.
Jack Zduriencik had to leave mid-event to go give an interview to FSN, but McNamara and Blengino stayed for the remainder of the meeting to answer some questions from the audience that hadn’t already been collected by Dave about the minor leagues and other things. After they were done and the gates were opening to the public, everyone filed out to an area over by (oddly enough) section 331 to get our event t-shirts and grab a few beers and some food and socialize. I had a great time meeting various folks from Twitter, and spending more time with those I’d already met before, just hanging out and talking about baseball and whatever else came up.
All in all, I felt that there wasn’t a lot more that was said by the front office guys than most anything you could read in an online journalism source. There was a little bit of talk about the minors, which was cool, since I’ve inadvertently become more interested in our younger players this season, but no huge secrets were divulged, and with the PA booming over batting practice, I’m not entirely sure they could have said much anyway, within what may have been earshot of the players warming up on the field. People that aren’t able to show up seem to be under the perpetual assumption that the front office is telling us all their drafting, scouting, and dealing plans, and that’s just not the case – no front office would do that, I don’t think. We simply get the chance to have questions that people want answered, answered, and I did really enjoy the whole being-at-the-park thing during the meeting, even if I couldn’t see the speakers well all the time. It’s an opportunity to talk candidly with the front office, an opportunity that you don’t really have if all you do is read the paper and watch various news broadcasts or FSN. If you have the opportunity and can get tickets, it’s definitely worth it, and it runs more smoothly every time they have one.
One thing that I’m pretty sure I can share, however, is that to close the meeting, Dave asked McNamara and Blengino if there was anything they’d like to tell us all in light of this bleak season. Blengino’s response was simply “Just keep the faith.”