- 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
Filed under: 2011 offseason | Tagged: Eric Wedge Tough smart intense, Jack Zduriencik GM assistants Tony Blengino Jeff Kingston, Mariners fanfest sunday safeco 11-4 | Leave a comment »