June 5, 2015
West Coast By Us
Legends of Adventure, Sort Of
Yesterday, we arrived at the final stop on our road trip: Seattle. We still have a few more days in Seattle before we fly home, but the majority of our time on the road is over. During the adventure from San Diego to Seattle, we drove over 4,000 miles and spent almost 40 hours in the car. We slept in some skeezy motels, ate awful food often, and were super exhausted the entire time. It has been a tough journey at times, so when we were driving up to Safeco Field, we felt pretty proud of ourselves. In our minds, we were conquerors of the open road, true kings of the paths untraveled; legends of adventure. We thought were all these things and more. That is, until we sat behind three-time Iditarod champion Dallas Seavey at the Mariners game.
Like most people from the not-Pacific Northwest, we didn’t initially realize we were sitting behind such an important figure in modern mushing history. But when a 20-something year-old woman came rushing down the aisle in between innings to ask this guy for an autograph and a picture, we knew something was up. He was wearing a custom Mariners Jersey that said “Seavey” on the back, so I Googled it. Lo and behold, it turned out that we were sitting not behind a Jake Peavy/Tom Seaver clone like I had hoped, but rather one of the greatest dog sled racers of all time. Seavey has won the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog race three out of the last four years, and holds the all-time record for the quickest time from start to finish at 8 days, 13 hours, 4 minutes and 19 seconds, which is apparently REALLY, REALLY fast. In 2012, he became the youngest competitor to ever win the race. Long story short, the Iditarod is pretty awesome and this guy is the best in the world at it and we sat behind him at the Mariners game because life is hilarious.
Seavey had thrown out the ceremonial first pitch while we were busy causing a ruckus somewhere else in Safeco. We introduced ourselves and—I know you might be shocked by this—he had never heard of the Cespedes Family BBQ. In fact, Thursday night was actually Seavey’s first ever baseball game. Nothing like a Roenis Elias vs. Logan Forsythe showdown to get the masses interested in baseball. Seavey asked us what two kids from DC were doing out in Seattle, so we told him about our trip. Just hours before, we had pulled up to Safeco thinking we had just completed the raddest baseball excursion of all time. Try explaining that concept to a dude who spends nine days each year in freezing temperatures racing sled dogs over a thousand miles across the Alaskan tundra. We thought driving from San Diego to Seattle was pretty cool. Next year, we’ll have to try mushing from Anchorage to Nome to catch some Alaskan Summer League action. Last night, we had to settle for watching the fourth best start of Erasmo Ramirez’s quietly decent season. —Jake Mintz
Aaron Goldsmith is in his third season as the co-voice of the Seattle Mariners. A graduate of the Division III Principia College in Elsah, Illinois, Goldsmith’s rapid ascent up the minor league broadcasting chain is nothing short of remarkable, albeit miraculous. With stops in the Frontier League, Cape Cod League, Eastern League, Texas League, and International League, the 31-year-old Goldsmith has watched a whole lot of terrible baseball en route to one of the best gigs in the American League. About 90 minutes before Thursday’s game, we sat down with Goldsmith in some important-looking conference room in the depths of the Mariners front offices to discuss a few highlights of his journey to the big leagues.
On how he first got into broadcasting:
I went my entire senior year of college not knowing what I wanted to do when I graduated. I had gone my life always knowing something that I wanted to do, but in my senior year, I had no plan. And that's when you have to have a plan. My mom had always told me I should get into radio, but you know, you never listen to your mom. So I woke up one morning, about a month before I graduated college, and I thought, "my mom's right; I should really get into radio". So I graduated from college with a history degree, and then went to The Broadcast Center in St. Louis. It was really a school for deejays and news reporters, so it taught me all the deejay stuff and all the production stuff for radio. I knew nothing. I had never really spoken into a microphone. About three-quarters of the way through, my adviser told me I should apply for an internship with an independent league team in Illinois called the Gateway Grizzlies for play-by-play. He kept pushing it, and pushing it, and finally I just kind of caved. The Grizzlies wanted five minutes of uninterrupted play-by-play [as an audition tape], so I went back to Principia College as a proud alum and did the men's and women's double-header basketball games. It took me six games and three weekends to get five minutes of uninterrupted, not completely awful basketball play-by-play, which I had never done before. I knew everyone on my team, but I didn't know anybody on the other team. I would get the rosters, and I knew I couldn't remember their names. So all the opposing players were just given names of my friends. So like, a roommate of mine was the starting guard. My wife, who I was dating at the time, her maiden name is Harmon; so each game had a Harmon in it. So I send this tape in, and I'm convinced I'm not gonna get the job, because I was terrible. But apparently I was the only guy who applied—or at least, I assume—because I got the job. That started me off on a minor league career that eventually got me here...somehow.
On getting a broadcasting gig in the Cape Cod League a year after working with the Grizzlies:
My wife had told me about the Cape Cod League and going to games when she was a little girl growing up in Boston. So I was like, "I guess I gotta look into this college wood bat stuff". So I called every Cape League team and they all said the same thing: "Oh, we've got this sophomore from Syracuse we hired" *click* "Oh, we've got this junior from Syracuse we hired" *click* "Oh yeah, this freshman from Syracuse, we just hired him!" They were all college kids, and they all had more experience than I did, and they were all better than I was, probably. I called every team, I finally get to the last team, and I'm all dejected. I call the Bourne Braves, and I'm like, "Hi, I'm Aaron Goldsmith, I'm in St. Louis, nobody wants me...do you have any openings for play-by-play?" And he's like, "yeah, we do". I told him I had a demo that I was happy to send him as soon as possible. I'm not kidding, he goes: "Oh, you sound fine. When can you start?" I remember I had this huge range of emotions. At first I'm like, "wow, my life is saved." Then I'm like, "wait, you're really willing to hire me right now? Is this the right number? Is this legitimate?" They hired me over the phone and two weeks later I packed up my Corolla and drove out to Cape Cod. I was a landscaper during the day and called the games at night.
On the legacy of Dave Niehaus in Seattle:
I had listened to Dave a bit when I was in Double-A, thanks to MLB At-Bat. When you're in the minors, you like to kinda window-shop by listening to other broadcasts. So I had heard Dave a number of times and I knew how great he was; you tell right away. Of course, once you get here, you realize not only what he was, but how he was embraced. Growing up in St. Louis, you know, I went to Jack Buck's memorial service at Busch Stadium...I got a pair of seats of the old Busch Stadium in my house...Jack Back is huge there. I'm willing to say that Niehaus in Seattle is bigger than Buck is in St. Louis. I think a lot of it is because of the World Series' the Cardinals have won; there are other things to dwell on besides the radio broadcaster. But let's face it, in Seattle, when Niehaus was here, that was everybody's best friend for the summer. That was the reason you tuned in. Dave Niehaus and the Seattle Mariners go together better than any other team and broadcaster...I mean, Scully and the Dodgers trumps about everything. But past that, it's a pretty unique relationship.
On the challenges of switching off between doing TV and radio broadcasts:
I did 30 TV games in the minors, but it wasn't really like a full telecast. It was pretty low budget. Each offseason since I've come to Seattle, I've done basketball and football on TV, so that has helped me with speaking the TV lingo and learning some of the nuances of it. So I came into doing TV this year with the Mariners feeling confident that I'd be pretty equipped for it. But it's tough, man. It's a dramatic switch. Even though I've done more baseball games than any other sport by far, baseball on TV for me is the hardest. Basketball and football, the tempo is made for you. You never have to ask yourself, "okay, what am I gonna talk about here?" But man, baseball? You might wanna get into a story, but then you have a producer in your ear telling you to tell everyone about Kyle Seager Bobblehead Night, or that they want to show replay of something. You're doing the dance; producers, directors, analysts. The analyst needs to talk more than you talk; if you're talking more than the analyst, you're having a bad day. You're doing this big 10-man weave. I've really enjoyed the challenge this year, learning something new every night. —Jordan Shusterman
Game Notes - Seattle Mariners vs. Tampa Bay Rays
-Meals at In-N-Out: 3
-Mexican Food Meals: 10
-Dr. Peppers consumed: Jake - 21/Jordan - 21.5
-Times we listened to Evergreen by Westlife: 110
On Friday, we will drive back south to Tacoma to watch the Rainiers take on the New Orleans Zephyrs. Triple-A baseball is always bizarre, as the rosters are filled with players whose names you haven’t heard since that time you watched that Rays game at your cousin Daniel’s Bar Mitzvah back in 2013 (looking at you, Reid Brignac). Recently DFA’d Justin Ruggiano should be making his Tacoma debut tomorrow, which is all the more reason for us to be absolutely ecstatic about our impending Triple-A jubilee.