Monday, January 19, 2009

My Awards Night/FanFest Experience

I attended the Royals Awards Banquet Friday evening, and it was a very well organized event. I received autographs from (I’ll just list them)

Joakim Soria, Kevin Seitzer, Trey Hillman, Dayton Moore, Zack Greinke, Frank White, Mike Aviles, Jeff Bianchi, Daniel Cortes, Toby Cook

…on one baseball. Not to gloat, haha.

I had extended conversations with 610 Sports analyst Greg Schaum (I sat next to him). I also discussed the team at some length with Dayton Moore, and said a few (considerate!) words to Hillman, Greinke, and Daniel Cortes.

To expand upon the above comments, I discussed the Bloomquist signing, a possible push toward signing Andruw Jones, and a couple other topics with Dayton Moore this evening.

- He claims that Bloomquist’s clubhouse character played a significant portion of his acquisition of the former Seattle player. He says that the character will rub off positively on Alex Gordon. Say what you will, folks….., I’m just relaying the information.

I also asked him about a possible pursuit of Andruw Jones, and he said they were comfortable with the current outfield.

I told him I’m excited about players within our farm system on the verge of MLB status, such as Kila Ka’aihue and Carlos Rosa. He agreed with me when I stated Rosa could be a top-flight setup man but admitted health was a concern ("he needs to stay healthy")

He also seemed positive about his acquisitions Mike Jacobs and Coco Crisp, going out of his way to mention them.

Also, I was holding an autographed baseball, and asked him to sign the baseball. I said that I had been waiting and my fingers were getting tired trying to avoid the ink placed on the now ultra-valuable baseball (because of the players he acquired). He smiled and patted me on the shoulder. That was my comic relief for the evening.

(I wonder if he recognized me as that blogger on Royals Nation and the Royals blogosphere who has practically obsessed over every one of his personnel decisions? Something in me felt that he did…..)

- Also, I received Zack Greinke’s autograph, and mentioned the high tension from his mid-to-late inning outings in 2007. He didn’t really say a word, but just nodded in agreement to what I was saying. (I mentioned that it felt odd asking for an autograph of a player approximately two years older than me).

- I met and talked with Daniel Cortes (Royals #3 Prospect) for awhile. We discussed somewhat briefly his Red Bull commitment from several years ago, and he asked me where I played, or used to play. I told him that I was a pitcher, but nowhere near his caliber (which is why he’s playing for the NWA Naturals and I have a part-time computer hobby).

- Zack Greinke’s girlfriend. Kila Ka’aihue’s wife. Mike Aviles’ fiancee. Wooooowwww.

- Greg Schaum sat next to me the entire evening. We discussed many things at great length. That’s a fairly broad statement, but we made notes throughout the event, talking about the singing (which I felt was unnecessary) and just the event in general.

- I got Trey Hillman’s autograph. He told me that he kept his facial hair the entire offseason. I just wished him a general ‘good luck’ on next season.

- When Soria was signing my autograph, I asked him to write "Joakim. Soria" on the baseball. My obvious (funny) joke of the evening….he laughed.

- I told Frank White "it must be a hard life" after he had continuously tried to leave the building but kept getting hounded for autographs and talking. What a classy guy.

- I met Steve Stewart, Ryan LeFebvre, and saw Mike Sweeney up close at the event, as well. Steve Stewart actually went out of his way to shake my hand.

- I also got Jeff Bianchi’s autograph, and we exchanged a few words. He seems like a genuinely nice guy.

Anyway, those are my (brief) notes from that event.

I attended the Royals caravan last week in Columbia, MO and received autographs from Denny Matthews, Joakim Soria, Billy Butler, Kevin Seitzer, and Willie Wilson on one baseball. Hooray! (Soria and Seitzer would of course be repeated two days later).

My FanFest experience was rather brief. I posted these sentiments over at Royals Nation. I only stayed in the center for roughly an hour. I originally was going to help usher players to the 610 booth, but when I arrived I discovered that the minor 'duty' was no longer available. Funny how I've become the intern, although I'm not technically an 'intern' (yet).

Anyway, I don't regret paying the $14. The prices seemed a bit steep at first, but then considering it's supposed to be an all-day event, it wasn't too bad. I'm of a different mindset, though. If I have to wait in line for more than 15 minutes or so at a time, I usually consider the endeavor a waste of time (which is why I don't attend theme parks often). So, basically, I ordered a cappuccino refreshment, and snapped a few dozen photographs of the event. I also stopped by the booths and picked up some giveaway material, including a few Northwest Arkansas Naturals and Omaha Royals baseball cards and gear.

All in all, it's a spectacular event for families, and for the most part action-packed, but not for older adults. It really pales in comparison to the awards banquet, where you get to meet players firsthand, get tons of autographs without waiting in line, and hear speeches and actually discuss baseball with people at the "dinner table." I'm 22 and hence don't have small children, so I'm not the obvious targeted demographic of the group. Be prepared to wait in line, though. My God, the lines are ridiculous.....

The full picture archive can be found here and here. Enjoy!

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