Spring Training on deck

  As the bitter winter cold takes over most of the country and the poor folks down-under in Australia get slammed by more devastating weather, my mind is starting to dream of Spring Training in Peoria Arizona. I told myself last season that I was not going back to Peoria this year after the awful results from 2010. And with all the anguish in the world, especially in Egypt where pro-Government Thugs are attacking peaceful prodemocracy demonstrators, I almost feel guilty for doing it but yes I’m heading back to Peoria!

    To be honest it was the positive impression that the Mariners new Manager Eric Wedge made on me last Saturday at the SABR meeting that happened at Safeco during FanFest. Yes I know we are not going to the World Series this year, but I have a feeling this Spring Training is going to be a lot different from last year’s under Don Wakamatsu. Last year it was apparent that the veterans did not respect Wakamatsu as I observed a lot of lolly-gagging and a general lack of hustle and intensity during drills and the early games.

   I have decided to fly down on the 23rd so I can observe with my own eyes and ears the new Mariners Skipper  as he takes charge and tries to light a fire underneath some of these guys. Wedge has said for the record that there will be genuine competition for positions this year in Peoria, as it should be. This should be  an interesting  and exciting Spring Training as Eric Wedge gets his chance to lift anchor and begin the long voyage towards getting the Mariners back on course.

    Of course it isn’t just Wedge that has inspired me to shell-out the cash for this trip, it is also out of respect for Dave Niehaus knowing full well he wouldn’t want me to jump ship now. And frankly I am looking forward to getting some sun for a week in the desert.

   Of course this will not be simply a vacation for me as I intend to be posting on here daily not only my written reports, but also video and audio clips that I get from Peoria as I push into my sophomore year on Jeff’s Mariners Fan Blog. I am going to be doing an overhaul to the face of my Blog in order to bring it up to snuff and provide all of my readers a better experience. It is possible my Blog could be down for a few days during the reconstruction , but rest assured I am not going anywhere, except beautiful Peoria Arizona and the wonderful Peoria Sports Complex where our boys will start gathering on Feb. 13th!

  I also want to remind all of you to subscribe directly to my Blog via e-mail or RSS feed so you don’t miss out on any juicy Spring Training happenings. I am also on Twitter at : jeffsmariners and I will be sending random tweets from Peoria along with the video clips of the Mariners and any of you  fans who make the annual voyage to Peoria like spawning salmon. http://jeffsmariners.com

Eric Wedge hits a Home Run with SABR crowd at Mariners FanFest

Jeff reporting from Mariners FanFest 2011

 

  http://chapters.sabr.org/nwsabr/home held a meeting in the Ellis pavilion at Safeco Saturday afternoon from 12-3 pm while the Mariners FanFest was going on. I am a member of SABR and attended this event in anticipation of hearing a lot of rah-rah from Jack Zduriencik the GM as well as his assistants Tony Blengino and Jeff Kingston and Director of Minor League Operations Pedro Grifol.

 
Sure enough these guys were articulate and professional in the sort of guarded and semi-defensive way most of the top brass with the Mariners has been coming across lately. We got some nice insights on how this club is being run, and it appears that Jack Z. is running a tight ship that is sailing towards competitiveness within a few years. If nothing else Jack’s vision of building a solid foundation in the minor leagues seems to be coming together nicely.
 
  As far as the Big club is concerned Jack Z. said he was embarrassed with what we as fans had to deal with last year and that things will get better. While he is certainly charming and bright, I do get a bit tired of hearing about how everything is turning around on his watch but we need to be patient-with no apparent appreciation for the fact that we have been waiting since 1977 for a World Series championship. But if nothing else Jack Z. has the ego of a GM and perhaps he will come through in the long run,if not for us than at least for bragging rights amongst his peers
 
    But enough about Jack Z. and his crew, the big pleasant surprise today for me came when new manager Eric Wedge walked into the room. Wedge is a pretty good-sized guy and he definitely “filled the room” so to speak when he walked in. And I mean this in a good way, as I am here to tell you this guy is The Real Deal! From the tip of his jutting chin to the tips of his shined cowboy boots, this guy is tough, smart and intense. He reminded me of a tough  Sea Captain from Ballard who has seen it all and isn’t afraid to throw a punch if provoked!
 
   Wedge gave us a little background and answered some questions in a straightforward and commanding way. He spoke of things like leadership and accountability in a way that was authentic and convincing. He straight-up said that last years players were not even a real team or they would not have played so bad, and that it is going to take time to turn this mess around but we may see some small victories this year. I personally asked him if the top management was going to give him free rein to run the club as he saw fit, and he answered that indeed he was going to run this club as he sees fit, and that there are changes afoot. He recounted how he had been interviewing for several jobs by the time he got to Seattle and that he spoke frankly and openly with Jack Z. and the top brass here about what his bottom lines were.
 
   My assessment is that we have a take-charge no BS type of guy here in Seattle who is not afraid of confrontation. When reminded that he was in Seattle now and people may be more afraid of confrontation here than elsewhere, he let us know that leadership is lacking everywhere these days. When he talked about creating the right atmosphere in the clubhouse, or liking a guys “Heart-beat”‘ it sounded sincere and not cliché like the old “Belief System” mumbo jumbo that last years manager Don Wakamatsu tried to peddle on us.
 
    While we all know that this team is probably not going to win the World Series this year, however from todays first impression  it appears as if Eric Wedge is going to push these guys to get the best effort he can out of them, and after last years dismal showing that would be a breath of fresh air indeed.
 
   After the SABR meeting I did get a chance to wander around Safeco field and enjoy the rest of FanFest. If you haven’t done it before I highly recommend heading down to the ballpark between 11-4 Sunday, especially if you have any restless youngsters with cabin-fever. http://jeffsmariners.com

Mariners welcome aboard another drunken-sailor

http://www.youtube.com/embed/qGyPuey-1Jw” Click for rendition of “What do you do with a drunken Sailor”

   It looks like new Mariners skipperHard EdgeEric Wedge, will have the makings of a rather motley crew when the Sailors who have signed-on for a voyage aboard the 2011 Mariners muster on the field next month in Arizona. Yes indeed now in addition to Milton “Choir Boy” Bradley and Josh ” Peek Aboo” Lueke, the intense new skipper will have to deal with the old Seadog  Adam Kennedy who has already shown he too is a “Performer” with his little DUI incident in Newport Beach California on Wednesday night.

   Adam Kennedy has already apparently spoken with the stern disciplinarian Jack Z. who gave him his proper scolding, yet just like Milton Bradley he still welcomed Adam Kennedy to spring training. I guess when you are trying to crew-up a ship and you are short on cash and talent all of the is feel good/family friendly gibberish gets thrown overg-board. Ah yes this years Mariners remind me of a few Tugboats I sailed on in the early 80’s when I was still drinking myself. Indeed back in the good old days on the Seattle waterfront everyone from the Captain down to the lowest deckhands drank and lived hard to put up with the lonely and harsh realities of life at Sea. But we were real Mariners and expected to follow the traditions of the Sea. But maybe our guys on the field feel the pressure of life under the micrscope as well, but unfortunately for them in this era of instant communication can’t get away with things like back in the old days.

   In fact life in major league baseball up until recent years has been wrought with stories of hard-drinking and fast living, including well documented expolits by the big  Yankees stars  Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle. My own Grandfather GordonDustyRhodes who came up with the Yankees and had lots of talent, is rumored to have wasted his time in the majors from 1929-36, by living in the fast lane and subsequently not taking care of his greatest tool ie; the body God gave him. I don’t know if Adam Kennedy has a drinking problem or if this just was a random event. I do hope that if he does have a problem that he gets help so he can turn his life around like Josh Hamilton has done with the Texas Rangers.

  In other Mariners news coming out of todays press conference it appears that everyone who was injured is coming around, including Eric Bedard and David Aardsma who should be ready by the second week of the season. Also apparently Dustin Ackley has bulked-up by 10 pounds which should help the youngster get some more pop on his bat. Also word is that the statue to commemorate the late Dave Niehaus should be up before the 2012 season. Not sure why they couldn’t have gotten a quicker jump on it than that, but guess we will have to settle for 2012.

   I’m looking forward to the  Northwest SABR meeting this Saturday at Safeco where the GM and his assistant are both going to address us in the Ellis Pavillion. Hopefully we can get some candid remarks from the brass about this year’s team, the good, the bad and the ugly……http://jeffsmariners.com

Mariners FanFest kicks-off another ______ Mariners season…

  In keeping with the “FamilyFriendly” business plan that has proved profitable for the Mariners Organization up till this point, The Seattle Mariners will be hosting FanFest this weekend down at Safeco from 11-4 Saturday and Sunday. I will be attending a SABR meeting Saturday at noon at the Elliot pavilion and may pay my 10 bucks as well later in the day to support the team and maybe run around the bases or enter the home run contest.

  Of course Jack Z, Eric Wedge, Felix and other big names in the organization will be there to sign autographs etc. in this sort of prelude to spring training and another season of Baseball here in the Northwest.

Apparently Brett Boone and Jay Buhner along with Dan Wilson will be roaming around as well. This may be a good chance to catch Buhner outside of his normal Northwest haunts over on the East Side, or hovering around the airwaves trying to get a full time job. As for Boone I’m not sure what they are thinking as far as “Family Friendly” considering this guy was pretty well-known to be a steroid user , as well as pretty much a loud-moth jerk in the clubhouse [ask Ichiro about this ]. But I guess Boone did make the HOF ballot this year and perhaps the Mariners are getting us ready for a season where they need to slip-in Josh Lueke and Milton Bradley into our annual summer mix of mediocre baseball and bland entertainment. To be honest I wouldn’t mind the focus shifting away from the whole artificial “Disney Land” experience, back to the basics of winning some ball games for the home fans.

    Oh well what can we do, it’s the only game in town so to speak and football is all but over excluding the anticlimatic Super Bowl between the Steelers and Packers. Either way I am attempting to slowly come out of my  bloggerhibernation period in order to get this blog rebuilt sometime in the next month or so, so as to have her up and running on all  eight cylinders by opening day. Grab your cleats and ink pens and come on down to the “Safe” this weekend, as rain or shine the ” Show must go On”.http;//jeffsmariners.com

Milton Bradley does it again…maybe for the last time

In a continuation of the Milton Bradley Saga, news out of LA is that our adopted troubled child has done it again. Allegedly Milton threatened a woman in Van Nuys California, who called the police Tuesday morning. Milton was arrested then released on $50,ooo bail. Milton has a court date set for Feb. 8th and I’m sure has Jack Zduriencik and the Mariners legal team are working overtime pouring over his contract to see if this latest meltdown by the brooding ballplayer is enough to void the contract.Like a lot of you I would not mind seeing him get released after hitting a dismal  .205 with 8 homers and 29 RBI’s in 73 games last year.

   Even if the Mariners cannot figure out a way to get out from underneath the $12 million liability for next year, I have a hunch this may be the last straw for Milton Bradley. This sort of drama is the last thing this club needs as they attempt to put together a cohesive team in a few weeks that will somehow play better than the 2010 team.

   In other Baseball news it looks like the Mariners have come to agreement with a trio of pitchers ie: David Aardsma, Brandon League,and Jason Vargas thus avoid going to arbitration by signing these guys for next year at undisclosed amounts. It appears now the team has the entire roster under contract for 2011, which gives the organization one less thing to worry about. Of course the whole Milton Bradley thing could be some sort of divine intervention, especially if the team can void the contract somehow and thus suddenly having some cash to go sign a few needed additions to this mediocre squad.

    I also wanted to let my readers know about a new site : www.insideseattlesports.com A great young guy named Steve is putting this website together and he contacted me about doing a little clip about the Mariners and their upcoming 2011 season. Check it out on Youtube at:  http://www.youtube.com/v/Cy24bl4PtP0?fs=1&amp;hl=en_US”></param><param . I wish him luck in his new project and hope to work with him again as the season unfolds.

   I will be attempting to make some upgrades to my site for 2011 with a new theme, more features, and hopefully some podcasts and webcasts of my own. Feel free to send in any ideas you may have as readers to help improve this site. I’m also hoping to find a couple of writers to fill-in for me during the season, so if you always wanted to be a sportswriter who gets paid zilch, let me know !  http://jeffsmariners.com

The Magic is over as Chicago beats Seahawks 35-24

   Well it looks like this Blog will be returning to its intended role as a Mariners Baseball Blog as a result of the 3524 loss by the Seahawks in Chicago to the Bears. But hey, it was a great little run Pete Carroll and his boys put together to allow the faithful 12th Man here in Seattle the chance to believe again. Despite the tough loss today, no one can take-away the magic of the Rams victory as well as the stunning upset of the Saints last week here in Seattle.

   But today our team just never got it going until it was too late, as the cold weather and tough Bears defense proved to be more than our guys could handle. Good luck to the Bears as they face the Packers next week in the NFC Championship game that one more time the Seahawks will be forced to watch from home.

   I expect to see Pete Carroll do some more rebuilding next year to try to put together a team next season that has a better chance of going all the way. While I personally hope Matt Hasselbeck gets to come back in 2011 for another year, I will leave those decisions to the guys who make the big bucks.

   Year after year our faith and resolve as fans and individuals is tested by our local home sports teams here in Seattle, and after 35 years I can truly say that as painful as it has been to root for our guys , I have grown as a person through it all and would do it again in a minute! Go Hawks! http://jeffsmariners.com

Seahawks get their game face on for showdown with Bears

No more Mr. Nice Guy, As Hawks land in enemy turf

The Seattle Seahawks have landed into the cold and unforgiving heartland of America, otherwise known as Chicago. Coach Carroll will be holding a light workout Saturday afternoon to go over a few last-minute things before Sundays big game at Soldier field.

 
  The mainstream press will be out trying to drum-up a last-minute  story tomorrow with the same tired theme that the Bears are great and Seattle is lucky to be here. I’m sure Pete Carroll will say something that will confuse the press in his sort-of Yogi Berra way of telling the truth with an odd slant. I trust Carroll to not only handle the press but to have a plan to keep building the emotional energy for his team so that they are ready to explode when it is game time.
 
  Right now it does not matter what Fox or ESPN says about this game. This game will be won or lost like most battles based on who is better prepared physically and emotionally, which team executes their game-plan, and the elusive intangibles like weather and turn-overs.
 
Right now our players and coaches are beginning to block-out all other aspects of their lives that don’t have anything to do with Sundays game. Of course you need to keep loose as well, but I have a feeling that our guys are getting into the zone as we speak.
 
   As members of the 12th man out here in Seattle, our role is obviously reduced when our guys are on the road. However we can and should keep the collective positive energy vibe directed towards Chicago, as the team that represents us and our way of life is in for a hard-fought battle on enemy turf this weekend. My oh My the suspense is killing me……Can’t wait for kickoff Sunday…….Still pick the Seahawks by 7 over Da Bears! Tugboat Jeff at http://jeffsmariners.com
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