Sunday, October 4, 2015

My Last Game With The Mariners...

So many great memories with my time with the Mariners!
Today is Game 162, usually the sign of the end of the grind of a long season. One last set of game notes, one last time updating and the Press Box TV, and one more time sending out lineups and in-game notes. Today is not just Game 162 of the 2015 season, it is my final game working for the Mariners.
I have thought about this day for a while, just never thought it would actually happen. Today I walked into Safeco Field for my final game as a member of the Baseball Information staff. Nine seasons with the team I grew up watching as a kid, my favorite baseball team, and 10 seasons in Major League Baseball…the journey ends today.
But with the end to one journey, another begins. I’ll start a new chapter in about a week, when I start as the Sports Information Director at Western Washington University. I am excited (and nervous) to return to the college ranks in the sports information world, but what an amazing opportunity to work for a great college, with a great athletics department, in the amazing town of Bellingham. I can’t wait to get started and move my family to this idyllic town! The rest of this post is mainly about what I am leaving behind - because it has been such a big part of my life - but rest assured, I am as excited about my future as I am about the past, and can’t wait to start with Vikings Athletics!
When I was going through the decision-making process I asked myself several (and I mean several) questions and it kept coming back to this question:
How will I be able to help coach Charlie’s baseball team or see Caroline’s first piano recital?
And for some reason I couldn’t come up with an answer. I love my job with the Mariners. I love being the architect of baseball information for a Major League Baseball team and coming up with nuggets of information that land on TV, radio, in the newspaper and even on SportsCenter. I took great pride in my work (and will always take great pride), worked countless hours (and will still work lots of hours)…but I need to find a way to be a better Dad and a better husband. Those are the two things that have become the most important to me.
When I worked for Arizona State, it was all about getting to Omaha for the Sun Devils baseball team. With the Texas Rangers, it was all about learning the Major League ropes. And with the Mariners, I was able to put all my experiences together to help make our department one of the best in professional sports.
But, On July 2, 2007…just a few months after I returned to the Pacific Northwest to work for my hometown team, everything changed. I met this gal near the Starbucks at Greenlake for a semi-blind date/run around the lake. I barely finished the 2.8-mile run, but from that day forward we’ve been nearly inseparable. We have welcomed two amazing kids into the world, Charlie and Carline, and I’ve learned how amazing it is to be called “papa”. 
Team Evans
So, in a nutshell, that is why I am making a change. I want to be home for more dinners and want the opportunity to see my kids grow up. MLB is a lifestyle, and while it works for many and is a prestigious job, it is very tough on families. My role at Western will still bring the craziness of sports PR, but hoping for a few more catches in the backyard and a few more dinners as a family.
Kyle Seager will always be one of my favorites. A true pro and Gold Glover.
Looking back at all that I was able to experience in my 10 seasons working in the Majors, there are too many moments that I consider my favorite. The Felix Hernandez Perfect Game, the Iwakuma no-hitter, the road trips getting to know many cities in our fine country…the relationships, the media, the players, the PR professionals…those memories mean the world to me. I grew up idolizing Ken Griffey Jr…and then got to work with him and call him a friend. Think about that for a second. Do I have favorite players, of course I do. Justin Smoak, Brad Miller, Kyle Seager, Felix, Adrian Beltre, Griffey, Josh Wilson (The Paperboy), Nelson Cruz, Michael Young, Willie Bloomquist, Raul IbaƱez…too many to count. All just wonderful humans, in addition to being great ballplayers. Two coaches that I owe the world to for their friendship and constant advice are Jeff Datz and Ty Van Burkleo…two of the best men I’ve ever been around. I am proud to have been a part of information campaigns to help Felix Hernandez win a Cy Young award (Felix Facts) and Kyle Seager deservingly win a Gold Glove. All just a few of what I consider many highlights from my time with the Mariners.
I take great pride in Felix's 2010 Cy Young award.
I’ve been asked a lot lately about what has been my favorite part of working for the Mariners. Besides the fact that I drove up to Safeco Field every day for WORK and watched baseball in the most beautiful ballpark in the Majors? There are a few. I’ll always remember being one of the first to walk into the ballpark on Sunday mornings when I was usually assigned Page 1 of the Game Notes for the 1 pm games. I would stop after crossing the skybridge and look out at an empty Safeco Field and remind myself how lucky I am. I always got the same feeling when running laps around the warning track during my lunch break, surrounded by 46,000 empty seats. I have no idea why, but those moments are what I am going to remember the most, because those are the ones that I soaked up every time and never took for granted.
Working with the media and coaches has been amazing.
There are so many people to thank that have helped me on my journey. For so long the path was all about getting to Seattle to work for the Mariners, and that opportunity has blessed me with an amazing family. I am one lucky guy!
  • To Rod Commons…thank you for believing in an 18-year-old freshman at Washington State.
  • To Mark Brand & Doug Tammaro…you guys showed me the ropes and were the best first bosses anyone could have.
  • To Tim Hevly & Randy Adamack…what an awesome 9 years we had as a staff. I learned more than you will ever know.
  • To my Mariners co-workers…Gregg Greene, Kevin Martinez and the marketing crew, the clubhouse guys, trainers, baseball operations…no front office works harder and can’t wait to join you for an upcoming postseason game. I owe Nathan Rauschenberg a lot for showing me the ropes with Photoshop...and you better believe I will be calling with questions.
  • To Oliver good PR man can exist without an even better IT guy. You are more than that though, as you were always a friend and one of the best workers the Mariners have ever had. Thanks for everything!
  • To past co-workers…too many to name, but Graham Rossini, this one is for you. You remain one of the best guys I’ve ever been around and will always be watching your career in awe. Joey Prebynski, you made my year in Texas tolerable and became a great friend.
  • To my parents and family…thank you doesn’t begin to even scratch the surface.
  • To Fernando and Kelly…it wasn’t always pretty, but in the end, we formed a dynamic BBInfo staff and really learned a lot about each other along the way. For that, I am thankful.
  • To all the media…it was a pleasure working with (most) of you. The relationships we formed and the laughs we had made the job worth it during all those extra-inning games.
  • To Ryan Divish, Bob Dutton, Greg Johns and Shannon Drayer…what a great group of beat writers to spend my last few seasons with. We had some fun on the road and some darn good meals along the way [we need to get Divish another Mayan Mule and take another taxi ride in Cleveland to find Gilbert Reichert]
  • To the broadcasters…I had the pleasure of working with some of the best. To the man I grew up listening, Dave Niehaus, to another Hall of Famer, Eric Nadel, you taught me what information to look for and how to best get it in your hands. Rick Rizzs, Aaron Goldsmith, Mike Blowers, Kevin Cremin (THE producer & engineer), Dave Sims…thank you for your friendship and always recognizing good work.
  • To T.R. Sullivan…it was only one year in Texas, but the amount of stuff I learned from you in my first year of Major League Baseball set the stage for a wonderful 10 years. You hammered home what trends the media were looking for and what game notes were important. A valuable lesson I did not take for granted and one that will remain with me the rest of my career. 
Looking forward to this guy entering Cooperstown!
The Winter Meetings and seeing Tim win the Fishel Award was a highlight.
Willie Bloomquist is one of the best guys in the game.
I'll miss this place, but can't wait to visit as a fan and cheer on the Mariners.
I can’t wait to get started at Western, learning from retired CoSida Hall of Famer Paul Madison and current assistant SID Kevin Nunn. There will be daily struggles and challenges, but that is also exciting. No doubt I am going to miss what I do with the Mariners, but can’t wait to wave Charlie around third base during his baseball games and see Caroline grow into a little princess!
My new position at Western Washington University
Here is my last set of Mariners Game Notes: