Notes from Underground: Wrapping the Feed and Game Outing

Jeff · July 17, 2005 at 1:17 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Bill Bavasi put me in a headlock, threw one fan’s hat in the trash, and told another “I’m right, you’re wrong — get lost.” Jim Caple brought bats identical to the ones Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner and Shoeless Joe used. It was revealed that David Cameron is on steroids.

Suffice it to say, tonight’s USS Mariner/Baseball Prospectus outing was eventful. With a 3-2 win sealed in last of the ninth, it was enjoyable as well.

First, to the Mariners’ general manager, our special guest.

Tremendously likable, Bavasi nevertheless projects an air of authority. He was joking when he responded to a fellow’s question with the aforementioned “get lost,” but there was resolve behind the gag. He was clever and funny throughout the evening, playfully taking one attendee’s retro trident cap and throwing it away. The hat’s bad luck, Lee Pelekoudas told him, because the trident’s facing the wrong way — all the luck drains out of it.

So Bavasi strode over, removed the hat from his head, and deposited in a nearby trash receptacle. This hat:

Bavasi and hat

After the feed, he got the guy a couple of new hats to replace the one he’d eliminated. This is a man who would be a good time at a restaurant after hours and a man who can be very intimidating when he wants to be.

One of reasons Bavasi is so easy to respect is that you never get the impression he is trying to deceive you. Politic when he wants to be, the guy can be downright blunt if he so chooses.

There were a significant amount of insights that he provided in an extremely candid nature, most of which we’re not going to be making available for public consumption. He was far more open than he would be with the media around, and we aren’t going to take advantage of that. Among the things we can share:

The team does consider history of steroid use in player evaluation. They look for signs, such as new hair growth. This is how Bavasi concluded that our own David Cameron — sporting a freshly minted beard — is on steroids.

That’s not to say he’s just going to spill family secrets. After Derek Zumsteg asked Bavasi a question about prospect development, the GM gave a long, detailed answer that involved his opinion that Yuniesky Betancourt “is the most gifted young shortstop we have” and at this point in his development, “he compares favorably to Cesar Izturis.”

Then, he noticed I was taking notes. “Not fair,” Bavasi said.

So he put me in headlock. A simple and effective solution.

Our other surprise guest was gifted writer Jim Caple, formerly of the P-I and now with ESPN. When I say “gifted,” I don’t just mean as a wordsmith. I mean that he has a special talent for talking his editors into letting him do such stories as “Jim travels across Europe and goes to sporting events” or “Jim parties with college kids during March Madness.”

His upcoming piece is a tremendous idea I wish I’d thought of: the Louisville Slugger people keep records on file of every bat they’ve ever made — so Caple brought replica bats for four of baseball’s most famous historical figures. People were able to take

“I feel like I could take over the world with the Babe Ruth bat,” said Jeff Angus of the Seattle Times after taking a few hacks. Here’s my man Jon with it:

Jon and bat

Caple says Miguel Olivo was openly musing about using the Ruth bat in a game. Let him try it, say I — it’s not like things can get much worse. Also, Caple took video of current Mariners taking batting practice with the replica sticks. Adrian Beltre homered a few times with the 42 oz. Jackson bat. So Scott Spiezio took a few hacks, Caple said, and Spiezio managed to knock a few homers, too.

“You’re kidding,” Bavasi deadpanned.

Like I said, equal parts witty and “wouldn’t want the guy mad at you.”

Look for Caple’s bat story, which sounds fascinating, in the next week or so on Also, watch for his next series of stories on hot-tubbing with supermodels as an athletic activity.

When I just watched the M’s win a game in the bottom of the ninth, and all I want to talk about is the feed, you know the event was a success. Many thanks to Bill Bavasi, Jim Caple, Jonah Keri and everyone who attended the feed. It was a night to remember.


71 Responses to “Notes from Underground: Wrapping the Feed and Game Outing”

  1. High Cheese McGee on July 17th, 2005 2:26 pm

    Alrighty, that’s cool. I was just curious.

  2. peter on July 17th, 2005 2:38 pm

    Thanks a lot for the pictures, dw.

  3. Typical Idiot Fan on July 17th, 2005 2:49 pm

    I just now realized that. Sorry, TIF.

    Hell, you think you’re embarrassed? I just NOW noticed I typoed that. I’ve probably read that about six or seven times since this thread started and didn’t notice anything until you said it.

    Yes, supposed to be “Morgan”, not Moran.

  4. dw on July 17th, 2005 3:00 pm

    Thanks a lot for the pictures, dw.

    No problem. I have some Palmeiro 3000th hit shots buried in there, too.

  5. Trenchtown on July 17th, 2005 3:41 pm

    Without violating the sacred trust between a General Manager and a Blogger, did he have a comment on Wiki Gonzalez tearing it up in AAA versus Miguel Olivo’s sub-standard performance at the major league level? I don’t need to know what he said, I just want to know if he said anything

    Thank You in Advance

  6. Jim Osmer on July 17th, 2005 4:21 pm

    I think a big two-headed problem with the M’s philosophy is lack of power (pitching and hitting).
    Successful soft-tossers (poster child is Moyer) can be successful so we end up with many sub-90 pitchers (Moyer, Sele, Shiggy, etc.)

    Success of slap hitters (poster child is Ichiro) causes lack of power hitters to be in lineup (Last year’s infield, this years outfield).

    In both cases, the M’s have taken the lack of power to the extreme.
    Power pitchers nearing the majors: Felix, Soriano
    Power hitters nearing the majors: no one really.

  7. DMZ on July 17th, 2005 4:31 pm

    We’ve talked about this before here, but Bavasi would agree with that, and I wouldn’t say it’s the team’s philosophy now.

    Historically, Bavasi’s been much more about the power arm and the power hitter (and wanting the athlete) than, say, Gillick.

    Which has its drawbacks as well, but that’s a whole other issue.

  8. msb on July 17th, 2005 4:57 pm

    DMZ said: “He also talked for a while about the need to win and how it’s easier to consider the owners’ differing priorities for bringing back a fan favorite when you’re coming off four great years, but there’s no room for that now. I believe he said they’d eat their young if they had to, and he wasn’t talking about prospects.”

    which reminds me– from today’s Sunday Times letters to the editor:

    “It’s time for the fans to boycott the Mariners if the team’s management chooses to sell our players, especially Jamie Moyer. It was a crying shame to lose Boonie. Enough is enough. — Irene Hennig, Seattle”

  9. LB on July 17th, 2005 5:20 pm

    #58: You know what they say, you gotta love these guys.

  10. Grizz on July 17th, 2005 6:10 pm

    1. Was there anything said that can be shared about Bavasi’s aversion to freely available talent — why he claims and signs guys like Abraham Nunez and Dave Hansen while passing on guys like Ryan Ludwick and Josh Phelps?

    2. Was there anything said that can be shared about Bavasi acknowledging the need to reconstruct the pitching staff, especially the rotation, for next season? At least one of the papers reported this week that the M’s were essentially asking for pitching, pitching, and more pitching in trade talks, so hopefully there is some leeway to disclose Bavasi’s general comments here.

  11. Nate on July 17th, 2005 8:37 pm

    #33 and USSMers, I still don’t see how this is much different than “Oh, can’t comment on that, because it might fetter my access.” Disclosing Bavasi’s comments here would clearly eliminate the possibility of future conversations. That doesn’t mean the gag rule isn’t justified–but maybe we should cut those beat reporters a little more slack.

    In my humble opinion, I think there’s a difference between “off the record” and “in confidence,” and I can only imagine that Bavasi, not being an idiot, wouldn’t have made any comments to a group that large that were classified company secrets. I’m not asking for a transcript, or even direct quotes. I just hope we get the gist of some of what Bavasi said, not just the kind of person he is. Unique, insightful, relevant, and *substantive* commentary is why your blog is the best M’s site on the web.

  12. Nate2 on July 17th, 2005 8:49 pm

    [deleted — anytime you say “I’m not trying to be (x)” you’re being (x)]

  13. DMZ on July 17th, 2005 9:35 pm

    There will be detailed commentary, as you wish.

  14. roger tang on July 17th, 2005 9:38 pm

    re 61

    To me, some of those comments MIGHT make into future substantive comments, but only as deep background and incorporated into the site’s own thinking and analysis…and only after a little time has passed. To do anything directly afterwards (and in the same thread that’s reporting on it) would violate the spirit and letter of the agreement.

    I think we can ask for general comments, and we can ask for overall strategy, but asking for specifics and near term tactics wouldn’t be kosher.

  15. Nate2 on July 17th, 2005 9:53 pm

    Regarding 62:

    I guess when you host a blog you should develop many ‘cute’ sayings to avoid answering various comments. Good Job!

  16. John in L.A. on July 17th, 2005 9:56 pm

    Hey man, I was upset to miss it, too. But no need to let that disappointment turn into bitterness.

    You’re not mad at the site… you’re mad you missed it.

  17. DMZ on July 17th, 2005 9:57 pm

    There will be detailed, specific commentary soon.

    As to Nate2: if you don’t remember what you wrote in that comment that got it deleted, that’s cool. But it was out of line, and you can read the comment guidelines if you don’t understand why. If you’d prefer generic comments for deletions, well, that’s okay too. No offense was meant.

  18. Nate2 on July 17th, 2005 10:19 pm

    Fair enough, 66 was right anyways, I’m just bitter and jealous I missed the info. I’m surprised you guys take it so well, thanks.

  19. Bobby on July 17th, 2005 11:17 pm

    DMZ did you tell everyone that you met Bobby Brown last night at the Feed *GRIN* Wanted to thank you guys for a great event. Hope to make the next one.


  20. wabbles on July 18th, 2005 12:21 am

    Along with reading USSMariner, I”m also a newspaper reporter. So I can understand wanting to respect sources and also can understand sources being more comfortable around people they respect and trust.
    Yeah, when you’re talking to someone who is giving you REALLY good info, you are grateful.
    But you also wondering “What’s this guy’s agenda? What does he want me to do? Is he using me?”
    In THIS case, why was Bavasi was being so candid with us and giving us all these insights and inside info?
    It’s real simple. We were all just baseball fans, talking baseball. We were talking about what we love. That’s why Bavasi enjoyed it so much and opened up so much.
    Stop looking for hidden agendas, just relax and enjoy it.

  21. The Ancient Mariner on July 18th, 2005 12:31 pm

    wabbles makes an important point, it seems to me: if Bavasi’s talking off the record, he can afford to shoot a lot straighter than if his comments are going to be reported somewhere, because he can just stand up and call it as he sees it. If he knows things are going to leak, he’s not going to feel he can do that, so he’ll start to massage the audience. Kudos to USSM for trying to keep the whole thing pure.