USSM/LL Event Recap: Felix Felixes

marc w · July 15, 2012 at 12:49 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Tonight’s USSM/Lookout Landing event at Safeco Field was a great opportunity to discuss the state of the team with Dave Cameron, Jeff Sullivan, Matthew Carruth, talk prospects and scouting with Tom McNamara and to hear assistant GM Jeff Kingston get drowned out by obnoxious piano music. Here’s some of what happened:

1: Felix pitched one of the better games I’ve seen live. Look, I know I should talk about the event and the Q and A and all, but we all got upstaged by Felix Hernandez. I’m OK with this; there’s no one I’d rather be upstaged by. But every time Felix threw his change-up, I forgot another (interesting) thing that Tom McNamara said.

2: We got to the stadium early and everyone piled in to section 325 for a quick Q and A with Dave/Matthew/Jeff. I’m struck by how welcoming the Mariners are – ushers directed everyone to the appointed spot despite the fact that the stadium wasn’t officially open, and then two members of the front office take some time from their work of watching baseball to talk about baseball. It’s humbling, it’s an honor, but I’m not sure what the M’s get out of it. M’s: this post is for you.

3: The blogger Q and A was billed as a more honest/off-the-record sort of an affair, so I don’t want to go over a lot of what was said. There were several questions about the struggling M’s hitters, and the responses ran the gamut from guarded optimism to confusion and depression. Because this took place three hours before game-time, the M’s were on the field stretching before they took BP, which made for something of an odd visual. It’s really odd to discuss a player’s future prospects, or lack thereof, while said player is doing calisthenics in the background. It’s surreal. Dave/Mathew/Jeff were facing away from the field, which was for the best, but because I couldn’t see the dugout, players would occasionally seem to pop out of Dave’s head and jog in place for a while or touch their toes. It made every player seem a bit like Munenori Kawasaki, if that makes any sense.

4: Tom McNamara and Jeff Kingston then came out and stepped up to a microphone the M’s had helpfully provided. I always love hearing Mac, in part because he thinks about prospects and baseball in general so differently from me, or, I’d presume, Dave. I’ve been to several of these events, and what’s always struck me is how often and forcefully Mac (and Zduriencik) turn the conversation to a player’s personality/family. JY and I are leaning in, waiting for Mac to discuss how “in” on Mike Trout the M’s had been, and what kind of skills he showed as a prep in New Jersey, but McNamara’s way to say that they watched a lot of him was to say that they got to know his family. This reminded me of something Zduriencik said in January of 2010 – someone asked a generic scouting question and how the team evaluates players and Z talked about meeting Jason Kendall and waxed lyrical about his game-changing handshake. I don’t want to make too much of this; Zduriencik didn’t get where he is by scouting handshakes and eschewing on-field talent, but these intangibles keep coming up in our brief discussions. Is this because Mac/Z know their audience, and want to make a point that there’s more to scouting than watching a kid play baseball against questionable competition? Is it because “good” kids are more likely to withstand the grind of the minors? Is it because, I mean holy crap, that was *some* handshake? I don’t know, and while I’m not exactly convinced, I love learning about a process that seems so different from one I’d run. And that’s probably good, because Mac and his team seem to have done an excellent job. I’m glad he works for the Mariners.
*Update* Have to add that the funniest moment of the day came when Dave asked Jeff Kingston why he signed Miguel Olivo. Kingston thought about it momentarily, and then the aforementioned deafening piano music kicked in. If it was a random coincidence, it was hilarious. If Zduriencik has given members of his staff panic buttons that crank up ambient audio/stadium music whenever they’re asked in public about Olivo, well then my hat is off to you, Z.

5: Again, given the steep angle, I felt like I was always looking down on Mac’s head. I found myself wondering how to describe the elegant shape of his well-executed part. An integral sign maybe?
Tom McNamara
6: During the Q and A with McNamara/Kingston, the M’s took batting practice. I’ve heard for years about Ichiro’s BP show, and I’m hear to say that at age 38, he’s still got it. The ball just flew off his bat, and he hit ball after ball deep into the RF seats, just under the cafe, and hitting one majestic shot off the 2nd deck in right-center. I totally understand why people always thought he had 20 HR potential now, though I’m no closer to understanding why he’s one thing in practice and another in games. This was never a problem given how much he produced, but now, there’s this elegiac tone to BP, which now that I write it sounds crazy – watching BP was *fun* and I (and several of the people near me) tuned out was Jeff Kingston was saying (sorry Jeff!) to watch. It’s just sad that of the many-splendored thing he was, this is one of the few things that remains.
Ichiro takes BP

7: There was a lot of discussion about moving the fences in.

8: Tom McNamara delayed his trip up to Everett to watch Mike Zunino suit up (he hit a double in his first AB) to hang out on the concourse and field questions from many of you. Again, we’re blessed that folks in the FO do this and seem to like doing it.

9: This was my first time seeing Yu Darvish in person, and while it was impossible to say much about his stuff or location from the upper deck, he was bad. Really, really bad. For the second time this year, the M’s had the Rangers phenom on the ropes in the first. For the second time this year, Darvish was lucky to give up as few runs as he did, thanks in part to a strikingly poor at-bat by an M’s hitter. In the first game, it was Brendan Ryan. Today, it was Justin Smoak’s turn to bail out a reeling Darvish by popping up a first-pitch fastball on the infield.

10: First off, I want to apologize for not getting a game preview/gamethread up. Dave/JY and I were all in attendance, and we probably should’ve planned this ahead of time. Normally, I’m not going to beat myself up about a missed post, but this game was something else, and I bet you all had a lot to say. That was as good as I’ve seen Felix in a long time, with the major caveat that I missed his recent start against Boston. The volume of swinging strikes was almost difficult to process – there seemed to be whole innings of nothing but whiffs broken up by almost apologetic foul tips. Josh Hamilton in particular looked utterly lost – he could get another 9 at-bats and he wouldn’t have figured out Felix tonight. This year’s been a slog, and the past 2 3 5 8 haven’t been fun, but Felix made today’s meaningless game against the Rangers exciting and fun. Felix justified our involvement in this disappointing team and this long-suffering blog. If someone asked why I follow baseball, or the M’s, I’d point to this – you never know when one of these nights is going to happen, and it’s difficult to say how much fun it is to watch. Thank you, Felix.


12 Responses to “USSM/LL Event Recap: Felix Felixes”

  1. greentunic on July 15th, 2012 1:42 am

    Thanks for the post. Enjoyed the recap of the event!

    The change-up to Hamilton at 1:23 on the M’s video “Felix’s dominant performance” is one of the best change-ups i’ve ever seen. He was truly awesome. Pretty much all of the strikouts (or all of them period?) were swiking K’s. That’s impressive.

  2. Slats on July 15th, 2012 2:24 am

    That was the best game I have ever seen Felix pitch.

    He showed us why he is the King!

  3. Rainiers_fan on July 15th, 2012 6:22 am

    The event was really amazing. It was informative and at times quite funny as well. I really enjoyed the game as well. Felix put on a great show and the offense scored some runs. Thanks to the USS Mariner, LL, and the Mariners organization for putting on the event! I took quite a few photos and am in the process of posting them on my facebook page. You can email at or add me on FB at erich simon if you want to see more. Thanks again for a very fun and special event!

  4. The_Waco_Kid on July 15th, 2012 10:32 am

    Achewood reference!

  5. stevemotivateir on July 15th, 2012 12:06 pm

    Thanks again to Dave & company for making this happen. Really enjoyed the event. The fact that it was capped with a brilliant performance by Felix, and some offense(!), made it that much better!

  6. thurston24 on July 15th, 2012 12:56 pm

    It’s Frustrating because I wish I could go to these but I live too far away.

    Thanks for the recap but I’m wondering if they seemed agreeable to moving the fences in? Also, did they seem resigned to think some them of the young guys aren’t going to cut it or did they think there was a chance for redemption?

  7. marc w on July 15th, 2012 1:54 pm


    The organization folks were, perhaps predictably, very optimistic. They pointed out that guys like Ackley are just now reaching one full year in the big leagues – there’s plenty to learn, and they’re making adjustments. Kingston lamented the fact that they weren’t able to bring in a veteran bat to mentor Ackley/Montero/Smoak.

    I just want to echo steve – thanks very much to Dave, Jeff for organizing and the M’s hospitality. But mostly, thank you Felix. I’m still giddy.

  8. 15thBanker on July 15th, 2012 5:46 pm

    I don’t live in the area; would anyone mind elaborating on all this talk of moving the fences in? I thought the fences were currently no more than 6 feet longer than the MLB minimum in any given spot. I don’t see that really changing things all that much?

  9. samregens on July 15th, 2012 7:08 pm

    Thanks a lot Marc for the recap and pictures!

    I couldn’t make it this time myself but I’m glad you guys got to have the event at a great game. (I remember one of the recent years where the game itself was terrible.)

    The M’s played terrible (like usual) in the two games sandwiching the event game, so you guys really got it!

  10. SethGrandpa on July 15th, 2012 8:36 pm

    Thanks for setting it up Dave and the USSM crew. It was a seriously awesome day. The one thing that was a bit weird was how we were scatter across so many sections in the upper deck. Except for that, everything ruled

  11. Paul Covert on July 15th, 2012 8:48 pm

    I hadn’t properly appreciated it until Marc mentioned it, but– yeah, the ushering crew was amazing. I came rushing in late (having badly miscalculated how bad the traffic on I-5 coming from the north end was going to be); and both the ticket-taker at the RF gate and a couple of other ushers on the path to section 325, when I asked “USS Mariner?,” knew exactly where to direct me and were happy to do so. In the perhaps unlikely event that any Safeco ushers are reading this: Awesome job, folks!

    Probably the most interesting part of the session for me was McNamara talking about the scouting side of the business– for example, how nobody can hope to see everybody that gets taken, even in the first few rounds of the draft, and how the location of the top-round guys they’re interested in can affect what mid-round guys they’re able to see enough to make a judgment on. (Sounds kind of obvious now that I heard him point it out, but it hadn’t really occurred to me before.)

    Anyway: Kudos to the USSM/LL organizers, to McNamara and Kingston, to whoever came up with the Happy Felix Day signs, and of course to Felix himself. Outstanding event all around!

  12. BillyJive on July 17th, 2012 1:07 pm

    My daughter and I made the trip from Cranbrook, BC to Seattle for this event. She was bummed that we didn’t get to sit in King’s Court so it was really nice of the Mariners to give us our own ‘K’s. Great game and great event and it was great to finally witness Ichiro take batting practice. Thanks guys!

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