Monday, January 31, 2005

Fan Fest 2005

So here I am about 2.5 hours before the gates even open. I suppose I could legally be classified as insane, especially since I got up 4 hours early on my normal sleep-in day. I'm dodging raindrops on the screen of my PDA phone, but no matter how deep I try to move under the scant corner of the home plate entrance overhang, the raindrops somehow seem to find my screen...

I just finished the last swig of my "warm" mocha -- the last semblance of hope for my cold, but tolerable, innards. The line is already starting to form down 1st Avenue, and it's only 7:30.

OK so I'm battling raindrops, Palm OS and Blogger. It doesn't help that I'm typing on a screen that doesn't rotate. Still, it's faster than trying to scribble in Palm Graffiti... Only one hr 45 min to go. The line is now at least to Royal Brougham, if not already down left field to the tracks (Update: 8:30 I heard that it reached the tracks -- glad I got here early!). It's good to know I'm here with several fellow Mariners freaks, if not mere autograph hounds. At least I'll have a good shot at getting Sexson's autograph, evidently the reason the line is this long this early (Boonie's signing at the same time, too, so that could explain a lot of the bulk)...

Still, the main reason I'm here is not because of Sexson. Sure, it'll be nice having an autographed ball to add to my collection. Part of me would rather nab Boone's signature, but that's going to be too difficult, as I just found out they're signing at the same time :-(

The main reason I'm here is to follow up with Howard Lincoln, after my 2004 Fan Fest experience. See, I was in line ready to step up to the microphone, and right as I was going to ask my question, the person in charge of controlling the session cut the session off. Ever since then, I've been raging mad, wanting to especially say my piece to Howard. The problem is, he did too much this off-season to make me want to thank him, instead of criticize him like I was ready to last year.

I'm battling too many raindrops, and it looks like we're starting to stand up. The squatters have packed up their folding chairs, and dodge cars like in a Frogger game to put their bulky stuff away. I'll have to continue this when I get home. Besides, I've already lost one entry (PDA fatal exception error before saving as draft). I gotta get this saved.

Enjoys the rest of Fan Fest, heads home to finish this blog entry...

So, here I am back from Fan Fest. It was a LONG day filled with the drudgery of waiting in line. Waiting in line for 3 hours to get in. Waiting in line again to get Richie Sexson's autograph. Waiting in a smaller line for food. Waiting in line to get other autographs (during the interview sessions). Waiting in line, even if I was the first in line, for Howard and Chuck to start fielding questions.

My Mia Culpa
Ah. Now, that's more like it. The epochal moment. The anthesis to last year's Fan Fest. I'm not going to get cut off this time! When Howard and Chuck start to babble about along the lines of the M's, I motion for the microphone guy that I want to ask a question. He starts to come over my direction, and then signals the other guy covering my half to start with me. I never did catch the "screener's" name (**update June 2, 2005 -- it was Gregg Greene, the M's director of promotions), but boy did he really want to know what I was going to say.

I started telling him my story of last season and how I'd come there with a mouthful of barbs to throw Howard's general direction. Now, though, I was here to tell him thank you for the off-season moves. The screener says "I'll go ahead and tell him for you" and then I try and negotiate the microphone away from him. I told him that I felt it needed to come from my mouth and from my heart, and stuff like that. Nervously, he said, "okay" but don't mention anything about what you said over Art Thiel's column (I'd given him a brief rundown of my blog article here and told him I was ready to apologize to Howard for advancing the notion that Howard's a 'money-grubbing soulless leech'). I could see why he was nervous, and told him that I was aware that Lincoln was pretty sensitive to this stuff, and I was really not going to attack him. After several more negotiations "Are you SURE you're not going to let me down!" "You're not going to pull a fast one on me are you?" Rick Rizzs asked if there were any questions for Chuck and Howard.

After skiddishly announcing "We have a comment from Paul" while slapping my hand away from the mike (not unlike A-Rod's World Series slapisode), he finally gave me the floor. I'd left my video camera running hoping to point it at my face. Unfortunately, I got a lot of my, well, backside, and so I used my good ol' Adobe Premiere to blend the audio portion with the picture my brother-in-law took of me holding the mike.

An act of contrition:
Talking to Howard Lincoln, FanFest 2005

Click the picture for the video clip. Its a ~4.5 mb MPG file, which would take longer than it's worth over a modem. So, here's the transcription of my comments:

Yes, Howard -- I’m in the M’s blogosphere, and I’m sure you’re aware of the blogs, how you’ve had some critics out there, and I’ve been one of the loudest. I wanted to come here today to say “Thank You” from the bottom of my heart with the fans today – for rebuilding this team and bringing excitement back to Seattle baseball.
Okay, I admit, that isn't a direct transcription. The audio came back pretty mushy-jumbled, especially considering the "stadium delay" effect -- though I'm confident it wasn't as robotic to Howard and Chuck. Still, I decided to capture the essence of what I said.

He just stood there fairly stumped, and I'm pretty sure he was shocked to hear "Thank You" and "blogs" in the same context. The next question, I think, was about Bucky or something. I caught Howard looking my general direction, with a slight smile on his face:

Howard's Reaction

Okay, he may be more zoning out than reflecting with glee on my laudings. Still, I'm sure it was a different experience for him to hear a "thank you" from a blogger.

So, just to reinforce my act of contrition, I snuck across the aisle to get to the front of the line waiting to get autographs immediately after the q/a session was finished. I walked up to him, shook his hand, gave him my Sharpie and my FanFest ticket to sign, and said "Howard, I meant what I said -- Thank you again!" He politely smiled and said "You're welcome! Go M's!" then signed my ticket stub:

Howard's Reaction

Not to be underspoken, I also reached for Chuck's hand (after he signed the back of my ticket, of course) and told him: "You deserve some of the credit, too!" Of course, kissing up to the boss standing next to him, he said "It all came from the top."

Indeed. It all comes from the top -- just as I suspected, and formerly directed my ire.

Howard -- again, I formally say "Thank You!" Here's to your continued conversion into a money-spending soul-filled baseball fan. Thanks for a good, if not risky, off-season.

Sorry Mr. Thomsen -- this is about an hour late. I said I'd have my "report" in at midnight. Well, as you can imagine, after spending the day with our 3-year-old, my wife was pretty wiped out. Still, it's not quite midnight in Alaska yet, and I highly doubt you're up and waiting for this to cross your desk ;-)


At 1/31/2005 12:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's Jim Thomsen. Guess I'll have to post this way. I'm sorry you felt you had to rush a late-night post just for my benefit (you didn't), but I appreciate the narrative nonetheless. You represented the blogosphere well ... anything that lets top Mariner blass believe we're more than a shrill collective of angry eggheads makes progress for us all. Good on you.

At 2/01/2005 5:07 PM, Blogger David J. Corcoran said...


At 2/06/2005 2:07 AM, Blogger Bloof said...

PositivePaul, that was priceless... I find myself wishing very much it was me.

But are SURE Lincoln knows what a blogger is?


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