I’ve updated the Big Board.
Looking over the major league roster I’m showing presently, there are probably three spots up for grabs — those of Luis Ugueto, Jeff Cirillo and Aaron Looper. With Willie Bloomquist on the roster and the team interested in Rich Aurilia’s services, Ugueto could very easily start the season in Tacoma with Jose Lopez. Cirillo will almost certainly not be with the M’s when they break camp, either because they’ve found a trade he’ll accept or simply released him. The final spot in the bullpen, currently Looper’s, is up for grabs as well. I’m sure the M’s would like to see that spot go to a lefty, be it free agent Scott Sauerbeck or a minor leaguer like Bobby Madritsch or George Sherrill. Barring that, it’s the sort of spot that could go to whomever has a good run in spring training, be it Looper, JJ Putz, Brian Sweeney or even someone like Rett Johnson or Jeff Heaverlo.
Judging by our traffic today, most of you aren’t at work checking out the USS Mariner. But hey, that’s cool. It’s the holidays, afterall, and of course many of you turned out on Saturday for our first-ever gathering, which we really appreciate.
I found yet another new M’s blog today. What’s interesting about this one is — wait for it — unlike the rest, it’s not hosted on Blogger. Amazing, I know. In any event, enjoy DC M’s, “Seattle Mariner talk, from a pessimistic, East coast, ignorant fan.”
In other news, 58 players became non-tendered free agents this weekend. At least a few of these guys have some appeal for the M’s, particularly if they’re serious about signing another lefty for the bullpen (Boston’s Scott Sauerbeck is probably at the top of the list). Over in the Times, Bob Finnigan has more about this.
Aha– reader-submitted site “100000 Watts” noted in an update Friday:
“KNDD 107.7 Seattle WA shifts its format slightly, moving from modern rock to “classic” modern rock, focusing on alternative music from the 90s onward. “The End” is giving its air staff the holidays off (at least as far as listeners are concerned); they’ll return to the air in January. ”
And then today:
“KYPT 96.5 Seattle WA dropped its 80s pop format and “Point” nickname Friday afternoon at 5, following crosstown competitor KNDD 107.7 Seattle WA to a “classic alternative” format, under the new nickname “96.5 K-Rock.””
Yup. I’m not crazy after all. The End’s site is down for shift-related-reasons, too. I will now re-adjust my antenna so I can pull in KEXP at work (I was going to complain “who’s going to play Death Cab for Cutie now?” but I looked on their site and they just played White Stripes, Halo Benders, Gorillaz (boy, did that novelty wear off), Cibo Matto, and Stereolab. Yeaaah. I don’t know what I’ll do during the weirder shows (“John’s Hour of Distant Scratching and Whistling Noises”). Seattle’s become the best argument for satellite radio I’ve heard in a while.
Minutes and Official USS Mariner Pizza Feed Wrap-Up
We took a survey.
1. How many games will the Mariners in 2004?
Average answer was 86, which is pretty pessimistic. Low was 75 (owwwwww). Almost everyone was around 86-87, though.
2. Where will the Mariners finish in the AL West?
Second. 4 firsts, 12 2nds, 10 3rds, 1 4th.
3. Will Bob Melvin receive a contract extension after 2004?
Yes, almost universally
4. Will Derek Zumsteg be named GM during your lifetime?
Remarks on question 5:
And man, what a bunch of wise-acres you all are. I’m half-inclined not to even post some of the responses here (Jason’s wife, for instance, wrote “No, but Jason will!”), but unfortunately for my pride, you were also too funny to not post.
“No, even if I am immortal.” (well, I’m not, so that sort of limits things either way) “Depends on how long I live.” “No, and not in anyone else’s either.” And the “No, but he might win a Counterstrike dork tourney.” (I don’t haven’t played Counterstrike in a year!)
Some were merciful enough to not say anything.
Only Conor had faith! Oh yes, some of you said “No, unfortunately” and be assured you will be first in line for Official Endorsements in the future, but Conor said “yes”. He thought I might become Seattle’s Theo Epstein. Hooray for Conor, Official Survey Participant of the U.S.S. Mariner.
5. Favorite Mariners varied greatly, but ran towards Pineiro, Boone, Edgar, and Soriano. Least favorite Mariner was McCracken, which is ill news for a new acquisition.
We also had a conspiracy theory contest to see who could come up with the best explanation for the off-season moves.
Official First-Place Conspiracy Theory: Stephen Nelson, of Steve’s Mariners and Other Stuff, spun at first a wild tale in which the Mariners and MLB conspired to allow the Expos to move to Japan. His tale quickly spun out of control, like all good conspiracy theories, encompassing Google (through blogger) driving the off-season moves to increase traffic to M’s blogs, and finally a Boston-led sub-conspiracy where everyone (except the Yankees, presumably). Stephen Nelson, who answered the “Will Derek Zumsteg be named GM during your lifetime?” answered “Since I’m planning to spend eternity in heaven, there is no finite answer.”
Clearly we should have been more specific with Mr. Nelson’s survey. Mr. Nelson wins a valuable prize.
They want a share of that sweet revenue sharing money.
One of these was by Chris Colon, the other by Matt Brignall (I believe), though unfortunately my notes are not good enough to indicate which was which. They win a year’s subscription the U.S.S. Mariner.
It was also suggested at several points that the Mariners team doctors had failed Omar’s knee for different reasons:
– they knew the deal was awful
– the team, seeing public reaction wasn’t as enthusiastic as they’d thought it would be, instructed them to find an excuse to veto the deal
The different crowd-attention-getting techniques of Mr. Cameron and Mr. Zumsteg were compared and contrasted.
Officially Endorsed Announcers Pat Dillon (Everett Aquasox) and Mike Curto (Tacoma Rainiers) were gracious enough to answer audience questions about their work and baseball in general. Pete Livengood’s phone rang and he took the call, after which he asked Mr. Curto the same question Mr. Curto had answered while Livengood was on the phone describing his location and his current activities (that is, attending a feed where Mr. Curto was answering questions).
In short, a good time was had by everyone asked. There were calls to repeat this event, possibly at a game. Some realized that I am indeed a bit insane, while Jason’s a perfectly normal guy and Dave is a fount of baseball knowledge and should be snapped up by some team with a brain who wants to do a better job with player development.
This is going to be of little interest to anyone not in Seattle, but I promise my next post will be M’s-related….
I’ve long been interested in the gamesmanship of radio marketing. There’s a constant dance that goes on like so:
– station X sees a demographic shift it can take advantage of and changes from adult contemporary to R&B
– station Y, seeing there are only four stations doing the lucrative adult contemporary format, switches from 80s music to adult contemporary
– station Z moves up from love songs to 80s music
And so on. With each move, program directors and almost all the DJs get fired, and everyone moves chairs. Sometimes, the chain comes around all the way. KXRX, 96.5, used to compete directly with KISW for the butt-rock market (and I say that with some fondness, having grown up in Kent in the 80s) and both of them competed with KNDD for the grunge. KXRX swapped out to a “young country” format, and their listners migrated (by taste) to KISW, KZOK (classic rock), and KNDD (alternative). Over time, this didn’t work out so well for them, so they went to an 80s format, playing a lot more pop than they had back in the day, but with a playlist that overlapped a lot.
Now, here’s the thing about playlists. Stations do a ton of market research to determine what people remember and what they associate it with. Music is programmed in short blocks: the stations figure they’ve got you for 3-4 songs. So they want to get you with at least one song you will recognize, stay with, and like. This is why you hear “No Sleep ’till Brooklyn” all the time: it’s one of these songs (I refer to them as “flags” because each station picks a set and uses them like banners, but I’m sure that people in the industry have a better name for them). It’s a song you might want to hear once in a while, but if you listen to KNDD for a day, you’re likely to hear it a couple of times.
Anyway, so KNDD has always been in a weird spot. They’re “alternative” but there’s no real definition of what that is. They don’t play rap… except they’ll play Eminem while he’s hot, and then never. They’ll play some Outkast… for a minute. Cypress Hill is okay, but it’s only “Rock Superstar”. Beastie Boys are fine. They’re continually playing this game of trying to distinguish themselves from a straight-rock station like KISW, but unwilling for commercial reasons to actually get into really good, independent music that might actually be an alternative. They played a lot of the current kind of lame alt-rock (Three Doors Down, Puddle of Mudd, Limp Bizkit), but also sometimes stuff like the Shins.
Fortunately, here’s how their market lined up:
Entercom: KISW (“active rock”), KMNT (“adult rock”), KNDD (“modern rock”)
Infinity: KZOK (classic rock), KYPT (80s), KISS (ummm.. pop)
Clear Channel: the almost-unknown robot-programmed KFNK (Limp Bizkit & Co.), KUBE (“dance-CHR”… more R&B than KISS)
Entercom got to divy up their market pretty nicely: U2, all three. Coldplay, KMNT-KNDD. Metallica, KISW almost exclusively.
So a while ago, I noticed a weird shift. The End was going back to a lot of weird standbys I remembered they flew back in my days at the UW (okay, so if you didn’t think I was weird about this now, that I remember this kind of stuff should be a deal-breaker). Now, during the holidays all the DJs are on vacation, and it’s largely huge time-consuming tapes, interns, and guys passing by on the street running the station. But it was still strange for them abruptly to essentially change their whole musical mix to fly the same flags they flew in the mid-90s (for instance, they’re playing “Machine Head” by Bush (who I utterly despise as the worst and least talented of all the Nirvana knock-off bands) right now). A lot more U2, REM, Cure… and they’ve got new taglines: “Green Day, White Stripes… the Ramones, all on one station. It’s all about the music.” “Seattle’s original alternative.”
Turns out KYPT has changed formats and from what I’ve heard them playing, they’re flying the exact same flags. Their site offers nothing on what they’re doing, but they may well be a KROQ clone, which would be even more ironic because the End has a long history of aping KROQ’s every whim (english-sounding DJs, for instance, brought us the horrible, horrible Norman B, who was faking that accent the whole time) and if KYPT is going to be a KROQ zombie broadcasting that feed, the End’s listener base will be chopped by the very station that showed it how (End plays Big Audio Dynamite… hee hee) to build an audience through a particular song rotation.
What’s even weirder is that they’ve reacted this way. Seattle’s got great music and a supportive audience for it, and the End’s been the only commercial station that’s been early to support many of the cooler acts. Faced with a competitor on one wing, instead of moving towards finally defining an actual sound and genre for itself, it has moved to directly compete on the same ground the competitor just staked out, which will (I believe) force everyone who listened for rock to KISW, everyone who listened for occasional rap to KISS/KUBE exclusively, and everyone looking for good indie music to KEXP… and Seattle will have two 80/90s-based alternative stations, neither worth listening to.