This is one of the things Mariners fans such as this writer look forward to most every spring.
From the classics like Edgar installing "The Clapper" for late night BP, and the garage door opener that opened Safeco's roof to Jay Buhner using his bald head to reflect light into opposing batter's eyes, there have been some great ones. Every year, the crop of Mariners ads are viewed as some of the best in baseball.
Hey, you have to be good at something.
This year, we have five spots. Hopefully we won't be down to only one as the year wears on like last season, when so many featured players left the team for some reason or another.
Let's take a look at each.
Featuring: Ichiro, Justin Smoak, Chone Figgins,Miguel Olivo
Plot: Ichiro seems to, as the baseball term goes, "hit everything". But can he actually hit anything? Smoak and Figgins decide to find out, having the BP pitcher toss items such as a Rubik's Cube, toilet paper, and Tic-Tacs.
The Best Part: Among the items being thrown at Ichiro was a can of corn. Of course, in baseball, a can of corn is an easy-to-catch pop fly. Ichiro will have none of that as he laces the can of corn for a base hit. Figgins chimes in by saying "I thought he popped that up," as Ichiro grins.
Say What?: My first thought was, give this BP pitcher a contract. If he can locate a rubber ducky that well, what could he do with a baseball? Then, I realized the rubber ducky was a meatball. So was the tic-tac. So was the can of corn. As the sample size grew with each item, I realized we already have that guy. His name is Doug Fister.
Grade: A as usual with Ichiro spots. Yeah, I'm a fanboy, but this was great. The can of corn inclusion and the fact that Ichiro reportedly did hit three of the five tic-tacs used during filming makes this epic in Ichiro fashion.
Curse?: Will anyone from this team not be here by season's end? The biggest candidate would be Figgins, but at this point, don't think that's as much of a give-in as it seemed this winter.
Featuring: Franklin Gutierrez, MLB.com beat writer Greg Johns
Plot: Gutierrez, coming off a Gold Glove winning season, is running "Camp Guti" with a bunch of extras, and among them is Johns. They're attempting to make spectacular catches it seems.
The Best Part: The replay of Gutierrez's catch. Honestly, there wasn't a ton of awesome in this one. It was clever and a neat idea, just not packed with any good one-liners or wit.
Say What?: Who was hitting the balls to these people? Or, was it a pitching machine? Either way, only one ball seems to represent the type of ball Guti made his catch on. Maybe that's why they were having such a hard time making the play. It's like being taught algebra for an hour only to get calculus questions on the test.
Grade: C-. Mainly because I expect more from Mariners commercials. There were some logical flaws and nothing that made this stand out or memorable.
Curse?: Guti is a staple of the team and isn't going anywhere.
Featuring: Jason Vargas, Doug Fister
Plot: Fister is coming into the clubhouse and greets Vargas. Fister asks Vargas if he's superstitious, which Vargas denies with some canned phrases about working hard and such we hear in interviews. Then, he pulls out his "lucky socks", two pair of rock hard stockings that haven't been washed. Ever.
The Best Part: The look on Fister's face. I doubt he wins an acting award, but he had me pretty convinced that he might ralph.
Say What?: Why were the socks white? Shouldn't they have been blue? Or, do players who don't wear high socks, like Ichiro, get to wear any color they want? If so, if you had to guess, which Mariner would you peg for what color? I've got Milton Bradley in hot pink.
Grade: B-. It was fun and well done for what it was. Not memorable, but surely watchable.
Curse?: Both players stand to stick with the team. Neither is good enough to be traded away for anything the club could use, though Vargas stands the best chance to have his stats positively boosted by Safeco. Meaning he'd be the best candidate both for trade and to stick with the team.
Featuring: Felix Hernandez, Eric Wedge
Plot: Felix loves to compete. So, the day after his last start, he tosses on a wig and alters his last name with tape and transforms into Larry Bernandez. Wedge is on to his antics and sends him back to the dugout. Later, in the bullpen, a new lefty is warming up.
The Best Part: Felix's one line of "I'm Larry", with the thick glasses and chops. Although, the look on his face as he's pitching lefty is pretty awesome, too. Just an all around amazing spot.
Say What?: I've got nothing, really. This one was meant to look ridiculous, and they pulled it off without being too corny.
Grade: A+. Every year, the Mariners PR staff knocks one out of the park, and this was it. The same way I say "That's a problem" (ala Edgar Martinez in the clapper spot) when I realize I've boned something up, I'll remember Larry Bernandez for a long, long time.
Curse?: Sorry, Yankees fans. Felix is ours.
Featuring: Jack Zduriencik
Plot: The Mariners have had a bad run of things. A fan in a Mariners produced commercial likens the pain of the chest hair wax he's about to get to being an M's fan. Jack Zduriencik appears and acknowledges that the club knows about our frustrations and asks us to be patient as they build a winner.
The Best Part: That they even did this. Say what you will about Armstrong and Lincoln, but they have poured a lot of money into this club. While the results haven't been good thanks to many years of bad process, they are acknowledging this. I, for one, believe in Jack.
Say What?: Why is Jack pointing at the screen? I've seen him talk in person, and he is a tremendous and convincing speaker. I don't like being pointed at, though. Makes me feel like I did something wrong.
Grade: A. The concept was great. The execution and analogy great. I'm quite stunned they even did this and hope they have a plan to stop airing it once we see our first losing skid of the season; otherwise, this quickly drops to an F.
Curse?: I sure hope the only featured person doesn't go anywhere. Jack is a well respected guy with a scouting background. He built the young core Milwaukee has and can do the same thing here. I know GMs generally only get a few cracks to show improvement, but Zduriencik should be afforded some more time due to the mess he took on. We're getting there, but it will take some more time.
Overall, some good spots.
I'm glad they didn't do a theme like a few years ago with the shopping network thing.
I'll always wonder what might have been next in the Ryan Rowland-Smith marketing commercials.
Creative, witty and well delivered mostly. I'll for sure be anticipating next year's ads, as the Mariners marketing team has once again done great work showcasing our players in a fun manner.
What did you think? If you were going to create one, what would it be? Don't hold back; let's hear some ideas the M's might not have ever considered!