I am so late with this. I wanted to get it taken care of on Monday, but couldn’t manage it; and yesterday I was far too tired and felt like I might be getting sick, so I went to bed at 5.30PM. So today I’m going to race through my short lunch* and try and get something out worth reading, because I really enjoyed it, and I think the Mariners should make this a yearly event.
First of all, everyone should probably know that this was a season ticket holder thing. It was technically not open to the public. That said, I got a choice of 10 guest slots (ten!), so if you know a season ticket holder and can get the day off work, your chances of being able to attend this are really pretty good, should they maintain that same guest limit. And if you’re reading this blog, then you sort of know a season ticket holder! I brought three friends; Eric, Su, and Patrick. Eric even wore his Boston Sox hat, and nobody gave him any hassle. There was a food stand open – hot dogs, burgers, fries – and one of the bars was open. Beers were five bucks; not sure about cocktails, I didn’t have one.
The four of us met on the Terrace Club skybridge, and I gave my name to the woman at the door, who gave us each a ballot and a packet of basic info on the top 50 draft picks.
Due to the nature of competition and our well-rounded group number, we each chose a separate player, the idea being that if one of us wins, all four go to the game. I was paying attention to something else, and the other three voted, so by proxy I wound up with Mike Zunino. Our ballots were collected around 4pm, and then Mike Salk and VP of Marketing Kevin Martinez came out to speak with us, talk a little about the party itself (a small group attended, I would guess maybe 60 or so people. Maybe.) So in the time between the introduction and when the Mariners would actually have their first pick, Salk kept everyone entertained by asking trivia questions, the correct answers winning Dustin Ackley bobbleheads.
The trivia was paused and the sound turned up on the multiple TV screens as the Houston Astros and Minnesota Twins made their picks, and there was an upset in the room when the Astros made the decision not to take either the number one or number two picks, Byron Buxton and Mark Appel. Their pick of Carlos Correa caused quite a stir. After the trivia was done, our pick came, and after Mike Zunino was announced, Dave Valle came up to the dais to join the discussion.
We listened to the two of them talk a bit, some of the crowd asked questions, and then we were all quiet again as Jack Zduriencik and Tom MacNamara took questions from the handful of local press who were here and not with the team.
More discussion with Salk and Valle was had, and then Zduriencik came up to talk to the crowd assembled about the pick of Mike Zunino and what he felt it meant to the organization. He talked about the Zunino family’s long baseball history, and about the good personal relationship he had with Zunino’s father not only as a person but as a scout for the Cincinnati Reds. More questions were asked, and at 5.30PM, our time was up, and everyone gradually shuffled out of the Terrace Club.
I really hope they do another one of these. It’s only a two and a half hour deal, but the draft-pick contest was kind of fun (we did not win, incidentally), the Q&A was good, and the trivia – though a little difficult – was a nice way to pass the time while we waited for the announcement about Zunino. I don’t know that I would have done anything differently. The first draft pick is a fleeting moment, and I thought the organization did an awesome job of making it feel like an event, rather than just a dip in the pool. The free parking in the garage was a definite plus, and all the service staff there were, as always, pleasant to deal with and seemed happy to be there. I think it was a wonderful way to turn the draft into something a little more special than just an ann0uncement on the MLB Network. Having a local broadcaster there was a great approach to hosting, and there was just the right balance between the TV on a national scale, and the local guys talking Mariners. If we ever get to a point where we have a pick further along in the order things might have to be shuffled around, but this was a lot of fun. Way to go, everyone involved.
Oh, and this is what they do to the grass when we’re all not around:
*But because my place of employment is stuck in the 90s, I was using IE, which WP hates, so I had to finish this at home.