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

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