I apologize for the time it took to get these thoughts down. Getting back from vacation and dealing with real life work along with the fact that I drank beers beyond measure after the event was over have slowed down my ability to process.
With these kinds of things I've often found they really serve two roles: The first is a chance to put a face, or faces to the nebulous front office types we often rail at so much, the second is to meet and get to you know you all better. For the first Jeff Kingston and Wes Battle are now no longer just a couple of cogs in a Fail-O-Matic but actual, real, smart, hardworking people who take their time in the middle of an atrocious stretch of baseball to meet and discuss the game with some of their most passionate and demanding fans.
I remember in the Bavasi era when Dave and Jeff would do events and year after year Bavasi himself would show up and be unendingly gracious and enthusiastic. It didn't make me any less happy when he was fired as a fan of the team but the humanity of these people is something events like Saturday's are good at reminding us of.
As for the meat of what was discussed? Well Jake of CFBBQ asked Jeff Kingston a few times what kind of coffee Zduriencik likes and Jake is so damn likable that Kingston let him get away with it. I imagine at some point Jake and Jordan are just going to inherit the entirety of the baseball internet, probably well before they are 30. You should dislike them for that, or at least I feel like I should since they've accomplished 10x what I have in 1/2 the time. But again, likable. Damn them and also huge thanks to the both of them for hanging out, they helped keep things loose and casual.
I don't want to try and transcribe Jeff and Wes' responses to our questions as I don't have a recording and I'll put words in their mouth. That said here are a few loose points:
- They are very aware of this roster's shortcomings, particularly as it concerns outfield defense. When pressed on the decision to keep Rickie Weeks/DFA Justin Ruggiano Kingston cited their preference for Weeks as a late inning pinch hitter and spoke glowingly, and to many I'm sure eye-rollingly about Weeks' positive presence in the clubhouse. Whether you want to infer from that praise anything about Ruggiano's role in the clubhouse is a personal choice. So choose, you.
- The question was asked about minor leaguers dietary issues and what the big league team can and should do to institute stronger eating habits in young, poor players and the answer was a little vague. Kingston cited the team's commitment to a nutritionist on staff that joins the team in Spring Training and her availability to any player who comes to the team and asks for information, as well as taking care to point to the few "healthy" choices on the menu of many popular fast food chains common on the minor league circuit.
- The rest of the answers were largely predictable. The team doesn't hamfist data (Statcast, analytics, defensive info, etc.) down the players throats, instead providing the data to the coaching staff and allowing them to make the decision to disseminate to the players as they see fit. One interesting anecdote was Kingston mentioning Chris Young's appetite for analytics. "Him and Greg Maddux" was I believe the phrase when talking about Young's desire to have all the information. It's hard seeing that friendly, soft-throwing giant work in Kansas City.
After the FO Q&A Kevin Martinez came on and was fantastic. We talked about King's Court, the commercials, reminisced on Turn Ahead the Clock Night, etc. It's not a secret that Kevin's marketing department is in the upper echelon of MLB. Many, many thanks to him for taking the time.
Our turnout was ridiculous, and the Mariners insanely accommodating. They set us up in The Pen, fenced off with risers, microphones, the whole VIP Deal. Nathan Rauschenberg even went so far as to dig up merch for us to give away after the Q&A, which we did not do because we forgot, because we are dumb. There had to be at least 100 people in the little fenced off area, and as the main gates opened up hundreds more pressing along the barrier trying to figure out why four pasty dudes were being allowed to sit next to obviously important people. It was hot and we were in the sun but people stuck with us, got a cool shirt and were nice enough to not embarrass us when the space opened up for public Q&A.
One of my favorite memories of the night is the chance to have as large a contigent of the staff together as I can ever remember. I hope it comes across in the site how much respect and mutual admiration we all have for each other. I'm fortunate to consider many of our writers friends in addition to colleagues. At one point Scott pointed out that his wife always tells him to take more pictures. So we took a picture.
BEHOLD OUR MAJESTY! It's a dumb cliche but almost all creative endeavors come down to the pride and satisfaction earned from making something worthwhile and the relationships we build in the process. That little moment in time above, well that's a keeper for me.
The rest of the night was faded, awash in beer, cheers and the dawn of the Age of Carson. If you came I hope you had a wonderful time. If you didn't I hope you can next time. Lookout Landing is nothing more than a collection of people, staff, readers and commenters alike. It just happens to be a better collection than most.