Wednesday, January 31, 2007

George, on George and Perseverance...

Thanks to msb adding the link on today's USSM news comment thread, we have the opportunity to gain a little insight into George Sherrill's journey to the big leagues. George wrote a brief story for talking about his different path to reaching the majors. His story and his perseverance combined, of course, with his talent, has always been one of the biggest reasons why I became probably the biggest non-blood-relative George Sherrill fan on the planet.

For those of you who may not be familiar with his story, in a nutshell -- George came to the majors via the Independant Leagues, and his time in the minors was relatively brief. George was never drafted, and chose to go that route in order to follow his dream of reaching the majors some day. I've written a little bit more for George's BR Bullpen Wikipedia article, if you're interested in more (and he's also in Wikipedia now, too). As you can imagine, it wasn't an easy route as George summarizes himself in that article:
You really have to love the game to be able to stick it out in the independent leagues.

For me, a lot of my inspiration for re-entering the pursuit of my dream of becoming a photographer certainly has come from following George's major league story. His perseverance has made him a very tough competitor, and has certainly been rewarded. It's easy to cheer for the stars, whose super-talent has given them a much clearer pathway. Following someone who's got talent, too, but has flown under the radar and has had to persevere and put in that much more work is very inspiring for me. Maybe his story isn't as sensational for Hollywood to make a movie out of it, like they did for Jimmy Morris. But, it's still an important one, and I'm glad George at least got a little bit of a chance to tell it.

It certainly continues to inspire me to persevere in doing what I can to make narrow that line between dream and reality.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

FanFest 2007

So, it actually looks like Blogger might work. I'm using Memo Pad since my Enter key dosen't seem to work in my PalmOS web browser with Blogger.

It's about 8:20, and the first hour in line sorta flew by. I guess that's what happens when you sit next to Corco. There definitely seems to be fewer people here. What do you expect, when, really none of the "cool" Mariners are here. Except, of course, for Felix.

We're sitting beween Reed and, as Corco just pointed out, the new Batista wall. Dave and I got here around 7:30, and I'm not concerned that we're about 15 people behind where we were last year. I'll take the extra 30-40 minutes of sleep, Chuck.

Hyutler (or however it's spelled) just started spewing the propaganda across the PA...

Corco -- you got anything to write?
I haven't typed anything here in over a year. That said, this is fascinating . So many people here. I never imagined so many would wake up so early. I barely could myself. That said, this is a neat experience and I am looking forward to seeing what all this hype is about.

//end Corco.

So, after trying unsuccessfully several dozen times to copy/paste the rest of that into Blogger from my MemoPad entry, I've finally finished it at home. Starting to upload pictures, and other stuff. First things first.

The reason why I went this year was twofold: 1) to see Felix, and 2) to ask Bavasi my question about Vidro. I'd printed up 3 copies of the flame picture, and ended up giving one to Felix. He was starting to sign a second copy that I'd brought, but I'd only pulled it out to show him (and the people helping with the session took Felix's copy before he saw it), and they told him not to sign it. Dang. Two Felix autographs would've been SWEET. Didn't happen, though (sorry T2!).

Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to take pix of Felix during the Dugout Dialogue session -- looking at Deanna's D50 LCD, though, I can tell she got some fantastic shots. I think she's busy this afternoon and tonight, but keep an eye on Marinerds for her FanFest report (Yaaay, Deanna's report is up!). Actually, I'm counting a bit more on her notes, because I didn't really take too many myself, and I was waaaay too tired to remember things by the end of the afternoon.

But, going back to the Felix autograph session -- I showed him the flame picture, and he smiled, and then I shot this one of him signing my picture:

Again, I'm hoping that Deanna's shots of Felix turn out waaaaay better, because I had my hands full and was rushed through the line. Focusing a manual-focus lens without a flash all while being rushed through line carrying a ton of stuff is really, really hard. I got two shots off, and that one is the better one. Fortunately, the picture he signed turned out really flippin' sweet! Here's the final product:

(oh, and while waiting in line, I got this totally sweet picture of Corco trying to figure out what to do with himself, standing right outside the women's restroom, whatever that means:)

After hangin' out with Felix for 30 seconds (literally), we went downstairs, and to kill time waiting for more Dugout Dialogue sessions (and to meet up with Deanna), I had to make a fool out of myself (and the two Daves with me) by stopping at the KOMO radio booth where you could choose between four replays and pretend you were either Rick Rizzs or Dave Niehaus -- recorded on CD for you to save forever. After asking whether or not you had to stick to the script, I developed a few ideas for improvising the scene last July when Raul Ibanez robbed Jamey Carroll of a leadoff HR. So, I ran some ideas by Corco, including a ribbing on the times that USSM is always arguing with people that Raul Ibanez can't play defense. I figured I could MP3-rip the CD audio, and, sure enough, I was able to. I don't think they'll have any problem with copyright, since it was my improvised script, and I could've just done the same darn thing with my own mike plugged into the computer.

Like I said earlier, I really hope other people took good notes during FanFest. I asked my question of Bavasi, phrasing it pretty much like I did in my original LookoutLanding diary. Of course, as others suggested he would (since I phrased it in a way to give him many ways to avoid the question), he seemed to dodge the question, and didn't answer it until, perhaps, later. Since some USSM folks were there, and it's appearing in the comment threads around the blogs, I should mention that off the mike, I asked Bavasi if he and Dave Cameron were on speaking terms again. At first he thought I was asking about Mike Cameron, and seemed puzzled, but when I clarified that I was talking about the USSM guys, and how they'd been pretty critical of Bavasi -- especially after he'd traded away their favorite player. He laughed and said that the USSM guys should be critical -- everyone should be critical of them until they get back on the winning track. He did acknowledge later that he was going to appear at a USSM feed in Peoria, mentioning that they needed to bring some pizza. Dang, I wish I'd've had an "Antonetti in '08" button...

I'll probably jot a few things down in other FanFest conversations. And I'll probably add a photo album of some pix. There's one more, though, that I want to share before I finish. See, since Rick Rizzs is a favorite of my brother-in-law, Dave, I had to counter-act some of the "Evil Rick Rizzs" stuff out there (even though I think it's brilliantly funny myself) just because I care about Dave's feelings. So, without further adieu, I present to you:

Saint Ricco

Update: Sunday just after noon. A few more pix and links...

So, I've gotten a little bit more of a chance to sit down and sift through my pictures and read others' reports of FanFest. I remembered I had two other cool Corco shots that I just had to post here. Here's Corco in the visitor's dugout:

And here's Corco trying to find his way into the Umpire's room (notice the braille on the sign, lending further evidence that, indeed, there are some Umps who truly ARE blind!):

Fortunately, Corco was busy remembering what we did, and taking great mental notes. I'll forgive him for posting his totally sweet wrap-up on his own blog, rather than the Morsels.

I already mentioned that Deanna's got her wrap-up, too. Good thing she took great notes. Indeed the M's blog-o-sphere was well represented in the Dugout Dialogue sessions. And, anything that Deanna or other folks might've missed during those sessions, was probably captured by Kirby Arnold's article. Unfortunately, the Olympian writer didn't add in my plug for GS52, but I'm about to go find out if Corco is in the picture that the TNT photographer took while we were waiting in line (and I was trying to blog). My sister e-mailed me this morning and said Dave (my brother-in-law) and I were pictured, and I'm pretty sure Corco would've been, too.

Oh, and I finally added a shot or three of Safeco to my photog portfolio. I need to get some better shots, but for now, this one will work OK:

I'll probably have some more pictures of Seattle up on my Photo blog soon, too, since that's what Dave & I did after leaving FanFest.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Vote for Felix!

Looks like I'm planning on going to Fan Fest, and it'll be another early, early, early arrival. I really want to see the 'new and improved' Felix first hand, and, of course, get photographic evidence. The dilemma, of course, is that if I want to get Felix's autograph, I will likely already have to be in line during his time at the Q&A session. I suppose I could slap on the telephoto from the crowd and grab some shots. I could choose, though, to not go after his autograph (which, actually, I already have thanks to my cool bro-in-law who got it for me there on Sunday last year). But, see, I have a pretty awesome assortment of Felix pictures that I'd really like to have autographed. I'd likely only have the opportunity to have him sign just one picture.

That's where you come in.

On my photography web site, I've introduced a search bank of players whose photographs I've taken during games. Here's my link to Felix. At the top of each picture (when you click on the thumbnail) there's a "View and Add Comments" link that doesn't really look like a link (yet), but trust me -- it's a link. Simply click this link and add a comment or two to the picture(s) you think I should print out for autographing. I'll look at all the comments and see if there's a trend, and on Friday, I'll send that picture in for printing.

(I'm slightly leaning towards this one, however, which isn't in my search bank yet):

I will, of course, if everything works out, post the autographed picture on my Fan Fest 2007 report...

Thursday, January 18, 2007

I Got Nothin'

Wow. I've neglected this place for more than a week now. I suppose I could throw out some thoughts about Greg Dobbs being snatched away by the eminent Pat Gillick. Or, I could congratulate J.J. Putz for his shiny new contract.

I just am so underwhelmed by the M's, I just don't feel like talking about them much. Too many other things to do, I suppose. Like take pictures. Like get in snowball fights.

I'm starting to wonder if there actually IS an offseason in baseball. The last few months have certainly been "off."

I still want a mulligan.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Oly Caravan Stop, 2007 -- a Surprise Guest!

So, I debated whether or not to leave work early to catch the M's first caravan stop in Oly this year. I planned on taking Joey with me, because he's quite the M's freak, and he also was a little bit of a Mike Morse fan from the games we caught at Cheney this year. I figured I would leave work at 4 (I normally leave by 4:30, so not too early), swing by Costco to pick the pictures from my gallery, and grab Joey and go. But, this morning I discovered I had to go across town to the new Costco to have my pix printed. So, I cut work (with permission, of course) at 3:30. I debated printing some pictures in the first place, but I'm glad I did.

We got there just before Adam and Mike sat down to sign, and the line, as expected, was pretty short. When we got in line, though, the first person I saw arrive to the table was "Norm Norm" Charlton! He must've taken Rick Rizzs' spot. Needless to say, I was not in the least bit disappointed! Before George came along, Norm Norm was my favorite lefty bullpen guy. Now, it was very fitting, really, since Joey's first experience at Safeco was standing in line for 2 hours during FanFest just to get Norm Norm's autograph. His Norm Norm glove is still a favorite item. Since Joey was only 2 at the time, I had to remind him who Norm Norm was. Things started coming back, and then he instantly re-connected. It was great!

Once we made it to the front of the line the first time, I told Norm Norm that story, and then proceded over to Jones and Morse. I pulled out the prints I'd made for those guys to sign, and I'm glad I made two copies apiece! When Morse saw the shot I'd taken of him, he was pretty happy about it. I told 'em they could keep a copy, and they both were grateful. Morse was actually a little bit excited.

Since we were pretty much the back of the line, I asked Adam if anyone's ever told him he looks like Eric Davis. Overhearing this, Norm and Mike both looked at him and sorta chuckled. Of course, Norm Norm would be somewhat of an expert on the topic, considering he was his teammate on both the Reds and the 1998 Orioles. Fittingly, Norm Norm looked at the picture of Adam that I'd brought (see below), and said that there was definitely a resemblence. Yeah, he gets it all the time.

The thing I discovered last year was that the Caravan was a great place to get autographs and to chit-chat with players. The line is usually short here in Olympia, and there's usually time between the autograph session and the free raffle to gab with the players without interrupting people from getting autographs. It's great! I'm glad I took Joey this year, because, being a kid, he really likes the Moose. He got to spend time dancin' with the Moose, and I got to spend time chattin' with Norm Norm and the other guys.

I could go on and on, considering I gabbed quite a bit with all three of the guests. Let's just say that Mike Morse has jumped pretty high on my favorite M's list. I was a closet fan before, but now, I'm even moreso. We got several autographs, of course, and I'm very glad I took the extra time to get the pictures printed. Speaking of pictures, here are several, including copies of the autographed prints I scanned on my new toy. Most of them, of course, include Joey, so complain if you want to -- he's my cute kid, and I don't brag about him enough:

Mike Morse and Adam Jones killing time after the autograph lines emptied. They both traced their hands with the sharpies. And got a good earful from the Caravan manager, who mentioned that the table covering was supposed to be used for the entire season, including the charity auctions during games and stuff. I'm pretty sure if it's that big a deal, that they've got the money to get a replacement.

Morse, my cute kid, and Jones

Joey and one of his favorites, "Norm Norm" Charlton

I gotta hand it to the Moose. Anyone who's got the energy to keep up with Joey deserves some kudos in my book. Joey was workin' him/her pretty good! The Moose definitely got his/her workout this evening...

One of my favorite pictures of Adam Jones from my photography collection. Now autographed for good measure.

Another totally sweet picture of Mike Morse from my collection of Mike Morse pictures. Also autographed now. I'm pretty sure this one's going into a frame for my baseball room/music studio wall.

I'm glad I went, especially since Joey had a blast, too. I'm still deciding about FanFest. I'll probably go, even though it's a little bit harder to actually get autographs and connect with the players like you can on the Caravan stop. If you're waffling, though, about going to a Caravan stop, just go ahead and do it. It doesn't cost anything, and at least here in Olympia, the lines are short enough. I'll probably do it again next year...

Monday, January 01, 2007


As I sit here by myself in the living room, watching the Space Needle explode (my wife and son are all asleep), sipping on the now 10-year-old bottle of Blue Chimay I just pulled out of the fridge, I'm really hoping 2007 is a better year than I think it's going to be. With two of my family members recently diagnosed with cancer, and with two of my wife's senior family members also on severe decline, the biggest thing I'm hoping for is health.

It sounds like the M's are done with the major changes to their roster. I am still hoping for a mulligan. I'd rather given 20 million to Aubrey Huff than 16+ million, Chris Snelling and Emiliano Fruto for Jose Vidro, but what's done is done.

So, my resolution, I suppose, for 2007 will be to look forward and to be more excited about the future, and not dwell about the things I cannot undo in the past. I'm also intending on paying more attention to the important things that I've been apathetic towards, and simultaneously giving more apathy to the things that do not matter.

It's a delicate balance indeed.