I am late in getting this up here, I know. I’m still not sure I have recovered from what was undoubtedly one of the most fun times I have ever had at a ballpark. A sooper sekrit blogger-led meeting, a Felix Hernandez/Yu Darvish matchup, getting to see and hang out with people I don’t very often, and a Felix complete game shutout? How is that not the most stellar day of the weekend? I have been kind of busy over the past few days, battling to get enough sleep because I’ve woken up both Sunday and this morning to go fishing, and I am still tired now, so bear with me, but I have a bunch of pictures to share.
First, the Q&A with Dave, Jeff and Matthew happened, which was a little more honest and open because unlike the people that work for the Mariners, our fair blogosphere is not bound by secrecy or contract negotiations. Nor are they being paid to say anything other than how they feel or what they have witnessed or know via stats about the team. As Marc discusses here, it was a bit on the awkward side to sit in the stands with an amplification system, listening to people be brutally honest with their opinions about where the team is now and where it might be headed while those same guys that were being discussed were running around the field, possibly within earshot of what was being said about them, but it is what it is, and I figure if we didn’t care, it wouldn’t be such a big deal, and we would not have been there in the first place. We’re mean because we love. Part of me feels badly about it, but the other part of me thinks that if it bothers the players that people are saying negative things about their performance, then perhaps it is time to fix that performance. In a lot of cases, it was the younger players who were being discussed, guys who might still have a chance to turn things around with a different training regimen. Also, it can be kind of refreshing to hear people say out loud things that we’re all thinking anyway. So we started with a lot of Dave, some of Matthew, and a little of Jeff.
And then Tom MacNamara and Jeff Kingston joined us to take some questions from the guys and from the audience. I’m not going to say much about what was discussed. Due to the last-minute nature of the event, questions and answers were fairly short and sweet, and a lot of what was asked and said was sort of what we already know, and a lot of what we already think as a fanbase. I will say that the end message I got from MacNamara and Kingston was that our organization is still working very hard to try and get the best talent they possibly can to stock our farm system with. I have no reason to disbelieve them. While I get the impression that I would not have been terribly fond of the Bill Bavasi era while it was happening, I do believe in the team of scouts and analysts we have here now. They may be limited by money or other factors, but I think that they do the best they can with the resources they are given; and from what I know of how things were before 2008, I’m not sure I could have said the same thing back then. I don’t dislike these guys, and I have never gotten the impression that they are anything other than honest with us, being limited by contract negotiations over what they can say or not. So I will continue to be patient, because I want it to all pay off.
Meanwhile, the team was warming up…
The meeting wrapped up just as the main gates were being opened to the public, and the Mariners organization was kind enough to have printed up special “K” cards for Felix’s start. The front was a K, the back said “Happy Felix Day!” with Felix’s head as the point in the exclamation. I have a love/hate thing with these cards; I love them because it’s an something to wave around at the team that I didn’t have to be clever about, and I hate them because inevitably, they never make it out of a game in one piece. The signs I’ve previous received during various games get rolled up or squashed; this one got folded in half to double as a fan because it was so terribly hot out Saturday night.
We got our seats before the game started, but abandoned them by the 3rd inning in favor of higher up in section 332 so that a small group of us could all sit together and yell at things.
The Rangers bullpen, standing outside the pen area, waiting for the starting pitcher and staff to come out of the pen. I am not sure if it is part of a ritual for them or not, but they did just stand there in the field until Darvish and company came out. Rookies galore.
I don’t know who this guy is or what his official job description entails, but he spent a few innings up in this catwalk area far above the field. The view up there must be amazing, and if anyone in any position of power is reading this and could take me on a (supervised, of course) jaunt up there to take pictures, I would just about lose my mind – and thank you very profusely, naturally.
As the final out was recorded, and the team did their high-fiving line, the bullpen came out of their bench with their heads down, looking kind of bummed out that they didn’t get to take part in the game.
While I like a good save as much as the next person, I also like to see Felix be Felix, so the fact that the pen was given a night off was alright with me. We don’t see games like this very often. But considering that the last time one of these meetings took place was during an Ian Snell start, I feel like we were sort of maybe owed something. Just a little bit. It was a really exciting game to be at, and I’m glad I got to attend it with a group of very enthusiastic Mariners fans, people who really love and follow the team on a daily or near-daily basis. I love going to games with just about anyone who will go, but there is something to be said for attending a game like Saturday’s with a bunch of baseball nerds who are sort of starving for something like this in the first place. When you’re starving, it’s good to be fed. I think I am still stuffed from Saturday, though the Royals game that the Ms just won as I’m finishing up this post was not at all half bad.
I have heard the kerfuffle involving Ichiro’s return, and currently I don’t have a super strong opinion on it either way. I know that there are those who do, and I am not going to argue with anyone about it. It will likely turn out to be a bad move, but until things truly go downhill, the organization will not recognize that fact. My initial reaction is that it makes me a little sad, because generally speaking I like Ichiro, and I don’t like seeing players I like decline. We are seeing a slow decline now; it might not be the case next year, and I just don’t know if I can handle that. Justin Upton’s name has been floating around in conjunction with Seattle, but if the ownership is not interested in having anyone but Ichiro in right field, then what choice do we have? There is something going on here that I just don’t understand; I would think that winning when your team is so bad so many years in a row would take more precedence over whatever reasons the owners think that we should have a declining right fielder remain on the team for yet another year. And if this is a situation where ownership just wants to squeeze every last bit out of Ichiro, then I really don’t like this idea. Sometimes, the best thing to do is let go. Please, Mariners owners, don’t make me suffer through another Ken Griffey Jr situation. This one will scar me a lot more than that ever could have.
The Mariners lost two to Texas, but they beat the Kansas City Royals in tonight’s series start. Kansas is higher in the standings in the AL Central than we are in the west, but they’re not really that much better than we are, and they brought Yuniesky Betancourt back – so mull that one over in your noggin for a bit. I’ll probably watch tomorrow night’s game, but I won’t be able to do Wednesday’s – I have a Sounders game to go to, wherein I would imagine we’ll be bidding farewell to fan favorite Roger Levesque.
As an added note, sorry, Hap, that I did not get the chance to say goodbye; the folks I was with were interested in beer and food (and if I’m honest, so was I), and we collected our K cards and went forth to procure both. Good work on handing out the cards to Dave, Jeff and Matthew. Everyone loves a baseball card.