Today Jerry Dipoto, Scott Servais, Andy McKay, Dr. Lorena Martin, RyOn Healy, and Dee Gordon all willingly subjected themselves to open questions from the members of the Seattle media, who put the casual in business casual. Dipoto displayed a little more fire than usual, McKay fired some mild-mannered, Midwestern shots at Baseball America, and we were all left wondering what a “chart of serendipity” could possibly be. Beyond the speakers, the Mariners organization released a series of new updates about the 2018 season at Safeco Field. Some were pretty neat, others less so. Some of our writers weighed in, and you too can air your grievances in the comments below. Dipoto definitely reads LL, so rest assured he’ll take all your commentary into consideration, won’t you, Jerry?
Most excited about: Another year of Andy McKay developing players. Every time I see McKay speak, it resonates with the educator in me in its focus on process/a growth mindset, rather than reducing the player (learner) to a product. Someone on Twitter criticized his “psychobabble” which I think is both an unfair characterization of the work McKay does and the knowledge base he draws from, and also a reflection of the general lack of understanding people have around mental skills coaching, because it is both new and hard to measure, objectively. It’s become fashionable to rag on the Mariners system--an easy target for jokes--but lost in that is the results they’re getting out of players the industry regards as being low ceiling (Braden Bishop) or ignores entirely (Art Warren).
Least excited about: I actually don’t personally care that much about the no re-entry thing, which seemed to be a big sticking-point for a lot of people--having been to a lot of games early where I’ve seen people sprinting towards eBay with their arms full of giveaways, never to return, I am pro cutting down on the in-and-out. But logistically, I’m afraid this will be a nightmare. Not letting people return to their cars to drop off said giveaways, retrieve an extra coat, etc. means more big bags and backpacks coming into the park, which means longer search lines at security, which means more me being impatient in line (idea: similar to airports, have a “frequent flier” line for people with no liquids/small bags only). Also you know there are going to be exceptions--are they really going to deny re-entry to someone who drove from Pasco who has to run back to the car to get a spare inhalator? I’m fine with making it less convenient for people to re-enter to cut down on double-dipping on giveaways and decreasing congestion (maybe localize all that congestion at one designated entrance) on giveaway days/high traffic times at the ballpark, but as a general policy, this strikes me as more trouble than it’s worth, and I feel for the people who have to explain to a beleaguered parent why they can’t go retrieve Mr. Mumples from the car (and worse for the person who has to sit next to the child screaming about where Mr. Mumples is).
Most excited about: I am all for another round of Turn the Clock Forward Night. The original one at the Kingdome is widely remembered and known for being one of the goofiest and most fun theme/promo nights in all of baseball history. We all know the stories. Griffey insisting on spray painting everyone’s cleats silver. The Delorean delivering the first pitch. The insanely bad uniforms for both the Mariners and the Royals. Personally, I can’t wait to see what Kevin Martinez and company cook up this time with better technology available to them and probably more financial resources.
Least excited about: I’m struggling hard to swallow the no re-entry thing. I honestly feel like there are better ways to limit double-dipping on promo items, which is an extremely valid and noble thing to do in the interest of fan satisfaction, especially for children. I totally agree with that, but ending re-entry across the board is not the way to do it. Couple other takes on no re-entry:
- It’s a passive aggressive shot at smokers, which in of itself is a class warfare kind of thing, in my opinion.
- Carrying around bulky promo items like bobbleheads, etc, at a game sucks. Carrying around a backpack full of yours and your kid’s promo items sucks. Being able to go to your car to drop stuff off (if you drove) is a lovely convenience Mariners fans have enjoyed for almost 20 years now at Safeco Field, if I’m not mistaken. Kind of a raw deal to take that away.
- The overwhelming rush of people coming back to the stadium at game time on certain nights is a bummer and is one of the reasons the team says they axed re-entry. I get that, but like I said, there are better ways of doing this, like limiting when and where re-entry is allowed and/or only having one re-entry gate in the stadium so people know to avoid it on big attendance nights.
- Century Link does not offer re-entry for NFL games or MLS games. I get that. Both sports attract the worst of humanity (SHOTS FIRED) among its respective fanbases. Baseball is a kinder, gentler sport. A pastime. Pastimes benefit from having re-entry. The Mariners know this and have allowed it for 20 years, 40 years if you count the Kingdome. Times change and so must our cultural norms, but I don’t believe the organization is making the decision for the right reasons at this time.
Most excited about: The team’s new “On BASE” initiative. The goal is to make baseball and softball more affordable and accessible to underprivileged children. It includes equipment grants for Little League teams, a partnership with the Rainier Vista Boys & Girls Club, a sponsorship of the Tacoma Metro Parks Elementary League, and more. You can read about it here. Some companies have products we love that don’t always feel great to partake in, for whatever ethical reason. It’s great to be able to root not just for the Mariners as a team, but also as an organization.
Least excited about: These new “deals” on food and beer. The team announced that a different “select item” every day will be on sale for at least 50% off. It feels guaranteed to be a mediocre hot dog (now just $4!), a 1.25 oz packet of Cracker Jacks (now just $3!), or a large soda (now just $3!). For anything half-decent, you’ll have to get outside the stadium (but not before you go inside, now!) or for $15 in The Pen. As for the wider selection of $6 beer cans… are we supposed to be hyped on a can of beer for $6 now? Besides, you could already get a 24 oz draft for $12.50 - a slightly worse deal on a per ounce basis, but it’s draft and not some stale can. Yawn.
Most excited about: Dee Gordon. DEE GORDON. The guy is just plain fun to listen to, his teammates rave about him everywhere he’s been, and I’m a sucker for anyone who’s that fast. Add in his answers about walking (“I gotta be honest with you, it’s just not gonna happen.”) and asking Ichiro for advice on walking more (Ichiro: “Rake first.”) and I anticipate Dee making another fan base fall in love with him awfully fast. There’s been a lot of legitimate concern about him moving to center field, and about the team’s approach to the offseason generally, but go watch the post-Jose Fernandez dinger he hit and tell me you’re not thrilled beyond belief to root for him here. Alternate answer: watching our player development at all levels, because I really think it’s going to shock people this year. [reloads take cannon]
Least excited about: The new BECU nights. It’s a mild dislike, and not the biggest deal, but it’s a markedly worse deal than last year’s half-price nights and the triple play ticket deal. You can already get $16 CF bleacher seats, so $15 view or LF bleacher seats does very little for me. If I’m doing this ticket option, I’m likely buying a chunk of tickets for my family or to go with friends, and we’ll generally care a lot less where we sit. Heck, last year they were offering the CF bleachers at $7 on half price nights, at least in April. The Gametime app is truly fantastic, but if you’re buying 4 or more seats at a time, the pickings are a lot more slim and it was nice to have the club’s offer to fall back on.
Most excited about: Turn Ahead the Clock Night. I was a wee lad when the original happened, but it looked like pure, unadulterated 90s distilled into one night. I’m looking forward to what they’re going to do with the uniforms - do they keep the original or go for a reboot?
Least excited about: The common refrain continues - the ban on re-entry. I personally don’t leave the stadium once I’m in, but as Kate and Eric said, I’m worried that this will turn into a logistical and PR nightmare once games get underway. All it takes is someone who drove for two hours not being allowed back in after forgetting their coat for negative word of mouth to spread.
Most excited about: Since Tim rudely stole my excitement, I’m going to have to come up with something other than Dee Gordon to be excited about. I’m excited for the half off rotating concessions, because that means cheap cotton candy; I’m excited about hearing a new assortment of walk-up music; I’m excited to watch the dynamics of inexplicable buddies RyOn and Dee (DryOn? DeeOn? RyEeeeee?); I’m excited about the org’s continued commitment to community service, as Zach mentioned above; I’m excited about whatever futuristic nonsense is on display for Turn Ahead the Clock Night. Really, I think the thing that made me most excited about Media Day is that it represented one more day that we’re closer to baseball. I need baseball. We all need baseball.
Least excited about: The continued lack of non-beer happy hour options. I will continue to beat this drum, trumpet this bugle, and wave this flag until a) it happens b) someone satisfactorily explains why it’s impossible or c) the person behind the alias FanCare@mariners.com files a virtual restraining order against me.