Before I get to anything else, there are a lot of people I'd like to thank for helping make this past weekend an absolute blast:
- Matthew, Graham, Kirsten, Robert, John, Red, Shannon, Eric, Laura, Aaron, and Lisa, for being wonderful company and wonderful hosts. Especially Robert, who is a real person
- Pedro Grifol, Tony Blengino, Tom McNamara, and Carmen Fusco, for being so much better and so much more informative than we ever could've hoped. Also Blengino couldn't stop reminding me of Harold Ramis
- Jack Zduriencik, for expressing interest and helping us out, even though he had another commitment
- Dayton Moore, for what in the hell are you doing
- The USSM guys, for doing most of the legwork for the event
- Those of you who talked with me on Saturday and those of you who didn't, for supporting the Mariner blogosphere and making LL what it is today
Now then, on to the talk. Derek already threw up his summary a few days ago, and it's a good one - it includes most of the goodies, and I'm not looking to repeat anything he's already published. Certainly, if you missed the Q&A, you'll want to read his post.
Rather, instead of going over every point of discussion that came up on Saturday, more than anything else I just want to reiterate something we've thought for a while, but of which I am now more confident than ever: the Seattle Mariners - our Seattle Mariners - are in good hands.
If you're afraid that we've been jumping the gun by singing the praises of this new administration, be afraid no more. Seriously. We all had our reservations about the Zduriencik front office, but after a few months of seeing them work and hearing them talk, I am convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that this is the management we've always wanted. Management that can make us good and keep us good. That was actually the unofficial theme of the whole Q&A, I think - that the people in charge have every intention of setting the Mariners up to contend for a long, long time. Those words about getting good and staying good - those aren't mine. Those are Blengino's, and he must have said them three or four times.
With one Felix-related exception that was probably more of a misunderstanding than anything, all four of those guys said all the right things all day long. They talked about BABIP. They talked about defense. They talked about Felix. They talked about Clement. They talked about rebuilding and reloading at the same time. In response to almost every single (appropriate) question, they hit a home run, and in so doing earned a few spontaneous rounds of applause and, at the end, a sustained standing ovation. Sitting up there next to these guys, it blew my mind that these were the Seattle Mariners, and that they were able to reignite my passion for a fallen ballclub with spoken word in January. The whole thing was, in a word, impressive.
Even more impressive was the dedication the four representatives showed by sticking around for four hours while declining to take a halftime intermission. Faces were getting long around 4:30 or so, both at the table and in the audience, and I think we nearly exhausted to death some of the people responsible for trying to save the franchise, but the fact that they sat around to answer fan questions for so long and then stayed afterwards to answer more and shake some hands said so much about their character. These are busy people, and all they got from the talk were four sore throats and, in Fusco's case, a few dollars' worth of recyclable plastic, but they couldn't have been better sports, and for that I can't adequately express my appreciation. While it couldn't have been easy, they sure made it seem like it was.
In all, this was an excellent event, and I'm telling you, given everything we've seen and heard out of this organization since the Zduriencik hiring, we're headed in the right direction. I'm sure of it. The front office is smart, it's getting smarter every day, and there are enough internal checks and balances that no one man will be running the ship. It's going to be a collective effort, and when you put that many intelligent and experienced people together in one place working towards a common cause, it's not easy to fail. We're going to get there. I know we're going to get there. It's only a matter of time.
(After the jump you'll find some brief commentary on the places we went to eat and drink. Feel free to skip.)
Uber Tavern: casual atmosphere, with easy but limited seating and an extensive tap and bottle list with good quality and diversity. Featured a Dogfish I'd never heard of before (Olde School). Wasn't hard to get the bartender's attention. Pretty good prices, to boot. Highly recommended.
Julia's on Broadway: I seem to remember getting a beer here, although I can't for the life of me remember what it was. Solid if unspectacular buffalo wings accompanied by disappointing lettuce. Lousy ventilation, although that may have been a one-time thing. Saved by pleasant and helpful service.
Stumbling Monk: quality over quantity on the beer list, and while the diversity of the selection isn't incredible, you should know from the name of the place what you're getting into. Couldn't be better at what it does. As a fan of Toronado, I love a place like this, where the customers know what they're doing and the lighting makes the place look closed from the outside until you notice that some of the shadows are moving. My favorite kind of haunt. Every city ought to have a bar like this. Note: no food.
Piecora's Pizza: as the post-Stumbling Monk destination, I know only that there was pizza and that I ate it and that I didn't see it again later which I think is pretty good all things considered.
Elysian Brewing Company: you don't need me to talk about Elysian. The Idefex is boring. Standard atmosphere and standard service for a place of its type. Not the setting for much intellectual conversation.
Collins Pub: pretty good (predominantly regional) beer selection, provided you make note of the handwritten list and ask the bartender what is and isn't available, as their printed menus become outdated in a hurry. It's hard for me to hate a place that has The Abyss on tap. A little bit pricey, but not exorbitantly so, and the selection, food, and service are worth it. If you go there, and you see Amy working the taps or the floor, give her a hug, because she's super. The owner is a total beer geek. Keep your eye out for awesome upcoming events.
Taphouse Grill: lots of beers on tap, but nothing exceptional - it's pretty much all the same stuff you can find in other places, only it costs a little more. I've been here a few times, and while it's not bad or anything, it feels kind of soulless, and ought to be better than it is. A place to drink, but not a place to spend the entire evening. Note: the ice cubes are sufficiently pointy to serve as an effective weapon capable of drawing blood.
Michou: a pleasant surprise in the Market with a broad selection of paninis and pastas, among other stuff. Patient and helpful service. Three mozzarella sticks for $1. Three mozzarella sticks for $1. Three mozzarella sticks for $1. I'm going to keep repeating this until you get in the car and drive downtown to pick up three mozzarella sticks for $1 (or a multiple of three mozzarella sticks for a corresponding multiple of $1). Loved it.
Lusty Lady: we totally should've. Who can pass up a $0.25 peep show? I've decided that the only thing more uncomfortable than seeing people walk into the Lusty Lady is seeing people walk out of the Lusty Lady.
Seattle Tap Room: I hate trying to drink beer in airports.
More brewers need to brew sours, and more bars need to serve them. They can be overwhelming in excess (much like pretty much any other kind of quality beer, particularly strong IPAs), but on their own, they're incredibly refreshing and a great way to either begin or conclude an evening. Learn from the Duchesse. This is a market that needs to be more effectively explored.