This one I was supposed to take care of ages ago, but Ryan got tickets to a game the day we were going to talk, then I got busy, then everything went completely nuts last week with my schedule, and now even with two games to actually go to this week, things are a little more quiet, and we were finally able to devote some time to a second interview. Ryan and I have been friended on Twitter for about a year maybe, but we have never met, so I literally knew nothing about him going into this, outside of the fact that he’s a Mariners fan, but that alone is a good enough reason for me to conduct this interview. Well, it was really more of a true conversation. I asked some questions, he answered them, and we got stuff done during what turned out to be a really quick losing Mariners contest against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. And away we go!
S331: OK, so obviously I already know your name, so where do you hail from?
RM: I hail from the great town of Bremerton. Born & raised there, went to college in Ellensburg, now back in Bremerton.
S331: A Washington lifer! How long an Ms fan then?
RM: I’ve been a Mariners fan for as long as I can remember. Grew up living and dying with Niehaus on the radio. Went to my first game when I was 6 or 7, and have been hooked on the live experience ever since.
S331: How many games are you able to get to, dealing with the ferries? I live in West Seattle, so I can just about walk there if I want; I’d imagine taking the ferries might present a challenge schedule-wise?
RM: Fairly consistently I make it to 10-15 games a year. Gotta get there for the Train Car nights & the various bobbleheads (obviously!!) Otherwise, it’s all about matchups (FELIX). I couldn’t care less about who they’re playing, I just want to see my boys out there. As for the ferries, it’s something that I’ve become so used to that I barely even notice/mind the hour ride each way. It helps that the scenery along the way is absolutely spectacular.
S331: I can imagine. I’m sort of jealous of that trip, but at the same time, I like being able to get down there as fast as I can. Are there any other teams you follow? Or are you strictly Mariners?
RM: Nope, Mariners only. There are a few individual players (ex-Mariners, interesting characters, etc) that I’ll follow on a regular basis, but other than that, I don’t follow the enemy. (In regards to the game) Ugh, Trout…
S331:You may or may not be aware of my vague affections for three other teams. So which players do you follow then? And why?
RM: Jamie Moyer was my favorite player growing up. I actually modeled my windup after him. Also, 49!!!! Jeepers! David Ortiz is another one of my favorite players from when I was younger and just seems like an honest, great dude that’s easy to root for. Finally, Stephen Strasburg: I mean, have you seen him pitch?! If he can stay healthy, his potential is astronomical. I just want to see him succeed so badly…wait, so you can’t throw Pujols a hanging change in the middle of the plate?? (surprised face)
S331: I guess not. I kind of like David Ortiz. I don’t want to, but I sort of do. You mention a windup – did you or do you play?
RM: Yep, I played Little League and up through a year of HS. Played pretty much every position in Little League but narrowed it down to pitcher and center field once I got older. Now it’s just beer league softball.
S331: Nothing wrong with playing for beer.
RM: Poll question: who’s outfield defense is better, Liddi’s or Peguero’s? Or Guti in a wheelchair?
S331: After Liddi’s non-catch in the sun the other day while wearing his sunglasses up on his head, I’m going with the Guti/wheelchair option. So I guess the obvious question I need to ask a fellow Mariners fan, since it just was announced today; what are your thoughts on the never-ever-letting-go of Chone Figgins while poor Casper Wells gets sent to scenic Tacoma?
RM: I think it’s complete BS. Although Olivo is a steaming pile of garbage whose only redeeming values are a plus arm and slightly above average power for his position, I do understand the necessity of having another warm body at the catcher position. Otherwise, I’d say to kick him to the curb. This isn’t about Olivo, however. Casper Wells provides a legitimate value to the M’s, even if Wedge doesn’t see it. Plus plus arm, plus defense, a right-handed bat in a predominately left-handed lineup (and the M’s are godawful against lefty pitchers). Figgins? A 9MM 25th man? What is it going to take for him to get cut? He has no trade value. Is lost at the plate. Isn’t being used for pinch-running. No defensive value. MAYBE he’ll be gone once Guti gets back and they’ll have to clear a spot on the 25. However, that’s going to be at least a month from now. Is Wedge content with wasting a roster spot for that long? exasperated sigh
S331: I was surprised to hear it as well. I’d use the word “shocked”, but I find that there is very little that the Ms do these days that really shocks me. Surprises and saddens (either/or, sometimes both) maybe, but not shocks. I really did think Figgins’ time was at an end here, and soon.
RM: They’ve done so many good things, especially with what’s going on down at AA Jackson, but progress seems nearly glacial at the MLB level. Seager has been a wonderful surprise though, early in the season.
S331: Right? I love that he’s doing so well so early in the year. Back in April I would not have expected this at all. The beauty of baseball, I guess. When the AA boys make it up to Tacoma (presuming they don’t take a fast train to the bigs), are you going to try and get down there to see them? Have you been to the new Cheney yet?
RM: I haven’t been to the new and improved Cheney as of yet, though I have heard some fantastic things about it. I imagine that once a few of the pitchers (Walker, Paxton, Hultzen…Pryor is already up there, right?) and Nick Franklin get promoted, I’ll make the pilgrimage over to the mecca of minor league baseball and bask in the glory that is the bright future of the M’s.
S331: It’s really nice. I admittedly (and perhaps somewhat embarrassingly) don’t follow a lot of the AA goings-on. I feel like I have my hands full with the Aquasox, Rainiers, and Ms themselves. I did get to see Hultzen and Walker at FanFest this year, though. They seemed a little shy, but like they had their heads on right. So in order to make sure that this doesn’t get too negative with the Figgins/Olivo chatter, what have the Ms done lately that you’ve really liked?
RM: I previously mentioned Seager, both his hitting and defense have exceeded my expectations for his first full season in the bigs. I loved the trade they pulled in the offseason to acquire Montero and Noesi. Did it hurt to lose Pineda and Campos? Absolutely. However, the need to bring in a quality, middle of the order, bat far outweighed the need for a top of the rotation pitcher. That is, of course, assuming at least one of the pitchers in AA currently pans out. I also like the general direction that the Mariners organization is headed. I believe that Jack Z is building the club in the right manner; through trades for youth/talent & through the draft. No need to spend buckets of money on veterans (whoops, Figgins) until you are in a position to contend and you just need that one piece to push you over the top.
S331: I do think we’re going to experience more growing pains. I know a lot of people are tired now and really want something to happen, but I am still holding out.
RM: One hundred percent agree. The way I see it is that young baseball players are going to be maddeningly inconsistent. You gotta take the good with the bad. But, you have to take solace in the fact that the players (for the most part) are trending upwards.
(At this point in the game, Ichiro lost count of how many outs there were, and started running in towards the dugout with the ball in his hand, rather than throwing for the out. There was a short pause on both our parts to shake heads and briefly complain.)
S331: So given that you’ve been a fan for so long, do you ever get sucked into the hype when things like the Cliff Lee acquisition occur? Or do you take everything with a grain or two of salt? I was both confused and happy when we got Figgins at first, then I read some things on an Angels message board and it immediately took the wind out of my sails. Oops!
RM: I nearly always get sucked into the hype for a day or two, go all fanboy about the possibilities. TWO ACES OMG!!! But then I remember to breathe and realize that our offense is still terrible, and accept the fact that the M’s are probably going to flip him at the deadline. Figgins, however, completely caught me off guard. I thought he’d be a legitimate top-of-the-order pest for us for years to come. Nowhere did it ever enter into my brain that he’d do the Wily E. Coyote drop off the cliff.
S331: I really wanted to like him. I’ve tried to maintain some optimism and be supportive, and all of that, but he does not make it easy. I remember making jokes that the Angels had given us a ringer…
RM: Ugh, yeah, my memories of him as an Angel was being an annoying lil gnat & I just assumed that same player would be playing for the Mariners. Who knew that he’d still be annoying us today?!
S331: So they were just showing more of Danny Hultzen’s numbers and talking about the Generals win tonight. It looks like they lost yesterday, but Hultzen still struck out 12 batters. Not knowing a whole lot about Hultzen myself outside of, well, the hype, what do you think are some things we can expect out of him? Do you even think he’ll take the Tacoma detour, or do you think he has what it takes to make it straight to the majors?
RM: If anyone has the ‘stuff’ to make the jump from AA to the majors, it’d be (Taijuan) Walker. Dude is straight nasty. However, I don’t think it’ll be about ability or talent when it comes to any of the trio that’s currently down in AA. Ultimately I think the FO wants them to get seasoning and experience against closer-to-MLB quality batters, thus a (possibly brief) stop in AAA. If they continue to mow down batters in Tacoma, it may only be a month or so in AAA before coming up to the big show. If it was up to me, I’d want to see (Stephen) Pryor up here before any of the ‘big 3’. Legitimate closer stuff.
S331: Zduriencik certainly wasn’t messing around when he said he wanted a team built on pitching and defense…I sort of wish he’d just debate the offense part. Just a little.
RM: Well, Montero was definitely a step in that direction, I think. Will also be interesting to see what happens here in the draft. That’s coming up fairly soon, I think…
S331: For some reason it just hit me, I am curious to know what you think about the most divisive topic in the world of baseball today…
RM: Hmm, that’s a great question. Personally, I think it’s the inclusion of players from the ‘Steroid Era’ into the HOF. Who do you let in? Who do you not? What about everyone named in the Mitchell Report? Innocent ’til proven guilty or vise-versa? To me, it’s incredibly complex and there’s no easy answers.
S331: Haha! No, I meant The Wave…
RM: I honestly don’t mind it. I don’t participate, but if that’s how people want to get into the game and have fun, who am I to look down on them for that?
S331: I don’t know that I necessarily would say that I look down on it, but it is distracting to me. I guess I don’t mind it unless I’m actually at the game, but I know that there are some people who just downright despite it. Judging by Twitter some nights, it’s offense punishable by death!
RM: I suppose I’m referring to those people when I say that I don’t look down on it. Dear God, CB Bucknor is terrible…
S331: One of the worst! So I have a few more here and then I think we’re good…there was some talk during the Rangers series regarding moving the fences in Safeco. Thoughts? Yay? Nay?
RM: I think they should be moved in, in certain places. LF, CF and RF are fine. However, LCF and RCF are just ridiculous. If your name isn’t Richie Sexson, you’re not hitting the ball out of here in the gaps. Move those parts in 10-15 feet and I think you’ll make a lot of people happy.
S331: Speaking of anything to do with CF, how do you feel about how Michael Saunders has been handling Franklin Gutierrez’s fielding spot? We aren’t getting the highlight reel plays, but he looks pretty comfortable out there…
RM: I’ve had zero issues with his defensive play so far. I think he’s done an admirable job filling in for DTFT. I agree that he hasn’t made any highlight reel plays, but I honestly can’t recall many/any times where he had an opportunity to make those kind of plays and failed to do so.
S331: Glad to see I’m not alone in feeling that way; I don’t think I have heard any real praise for the big shoes he’s filling this year so far, and I think he deserves a little more kudos than what he’s getting. Plus, grand slams are sweet…so this question may have to be a staple of these, since every single one of us has them – favorite and least favorite players and why?
RM: Least favorite players is, without a doubt, Jonathan Papelbon. Everything about him annoys the living (expletive deleted) outta me. Just take the ball and pitch. No one wants to see your ridiculous staredown and exhale before every pitch. Also, don’t take 40 seconds between every pitch. Go blow another game. Get off my TV screen. Favorite player has to be Munenori Kawasaki. Not because he’s a good player, but because everything about him is adorable. Also, that .gif of him doing the jazz hands or whatever (can’t find it right now though…)
S331: So I know you’ve mentioned to me previously that you weren’t really familiar with Houston, but what are your thoughts on the future expansion of the AL West?
RM: I think [it] is long overdue. Having just four teams and the NL Central having six teams has perplexed me for a long time. Just never made sense. Apparently they kept the leagues unbalanced for interleague reasons? I don’t know. As long as Houston stays terrible, I’m all for it. More inter-division wins for us!
S331: I kind of wish we had a natural rival that we actually cared about, but I don’t see Portland or Vancouver getting a major league team any time soon. I do feel a little sorry for the Houston fans though…
RM: Houston has fans?
(Sadly, at this point, Ryan’s wireless dropped out during what he referred to as a “rant” regarding the natural enemy status of the San Diego Padres; I don’t know what he would have said, but I’m pretty sure I would have agreed with it.)
S331: So we’re almost done here…I have to ask what the least favorite team is?
RM: That award has to go to the Red Sox. And it’s mainly because of their fans. I used to kind of like the team, but the fans are so annoying and insufferable, that my dislike for them has bled over to the team as well. After nights like these, the Mariners are close to the top of the list…
S331: Well, there goes the Dan Haren CG shutout, and here is the last question of the evening – what are your expectations for the remainder of the year? And I hope you can actually answer this question, because I don’t think I could!
RM: I don’t really have any expectations, record-wise. I think the M’s could go on a 10-game winning streak & I wouldn’t be surprised. They could also go on a 10-game losing streak & I also wouldn’t be surprised. I expect that kind of inconsistency from such a young team. Realistically, I want to keep seeing improvement from our young core of Seager, Montero, Smoak, Saunders & Ackley. I want to see Bartender become more consistent and take over the closer role. I want to see Felix keep being Felix. Finally, I’d love to see a few players from the minors make it up to the majors in the summer or fall and be able to hold their own & show promise for next year.
S331: Amen to that. 🙂
You can find Ryan on Twitter
hassling the rest of us, but you will not find him doing The Wave.