Start looking for this year’s collection of the Seattle Mariners’ commercials. They came out Wednesday morning and, to quote soon-to-be-video-star Charlie Furbush, they are “pretty epic.”
Furbush and bullpen partner Tom Wilhelmsen become instant icons as hair-band fans rocking out to Hawt Corner’s musical tribute to third baseman Kyle Seager’s defensive skills.
“That’s just both of us excited to see our favorite band,” Wilhelmsen said. “There was no acting. It was all just the love of life.”
It is all that and more.
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The commercials were filmed in February at the Peoria Sports Complex and are a collaboration between the Mariners and Seattle-based ad agency Copacino + Fujikado.
There are four spots:
• Where did it go? First baseman Logan Morrison explains to disbelieving newcomer Nelson Cruz that, while you can’t see them, Fernando Rodney’s pantomime victory celebration arrows are real.
That spot ends with an inflatable playhouse collapsing as a man wearing an A’s cap collapses to his knees while screaming, “Rodney!”
• Intensely intense: Catcher Mike Zunino lines up a cell phone group selfie with several starting pitchers that initially excludes Felix Hernandez because of his intensity.
The King cajoles his way into the shot … with predictable results.
• Bat control: Robinson Cano lashes one line drive after another to any location specified by hitting coach Howard Johnson and others. (That one is pretty close to what actually happens in batting practice.)
Manager Lloyd McClendon walks by at one point and instructs Cano to drive the ball at a guy about to place a flier on McClendon’s car in the parking lot. Cano delivers.
• Hawt Corner: And then there’s Furbush and Wilhelmsen emerging as stars of the entire campaign by turning their supporting roles into … well, Furbush is right: something pretty epic.
The spot centers on a series of clips highlighting the defensive skills that turned Seager into a Gold Glove recipient. The clips are accompanied by an 1980s-styled hair band called Hawt Corner (MetalHead in real life).
The scene cuts to Wilhelmsen and Furbush on the bench with big hair and rocking out in full head-banger mode.
“They picked the right guys for the right spots,” Wilhelmsen said, “and I think it’s safe to say they nailed Charlie and I for those two spots.”
Furbush and Wilhelmsen push one another to ever greater heights with a series of chest bumps, air-guitar solos and the like.
“We were there for so long,” Furbush said. “I don’t know if he went first or I went first. It was more like we’re just going to go with this and see what happens at the end of it all.”
The contrast to Seager’s straight-arrow approach is … (OK, what’s another word for epic?)
“They made it easy for me,” Seager said. “They bring so much energy and so much personality to it that I just have to be there. I can be low-key and awkward in front of the camera, and it works.”
Does it ever.
The song is infectious and sure to be a summer-long staple at Safeco Field. And Wilhelmsen and Furbush generated so much footage for the film crew that the Mariners put together a music video in addition to the commercial.
“We had a blast,” Wilhelmsen said. “We didn’t want to go. We wanted more. We wanted to keep going. We wanted to hear another song.
“I’m really grateful to the Mariners. They’ve given me the opportunity to be a big-league pitcher and now a rock star. Two dreams that every kids wants to be.”
HAPP TUNES UP
Left-hander J.A. Happ shifted to a simulated game against minor leaguers to avoid facing Oakland because he lines up to face the Athletics in his first regular season start.
Happ gave up three runs and eight hits in four innings. He struck out five, walked one and threw 46 of 76 pitches for strikes.
Erasmo Ramirez started in Happ’s place against Oakland.
WEEKS BATS LEADOFF
So why was Rickie Weeks batting leadoff in Wednesday’s game against Oakland at Peoria Stadium? Is McClendon experimenting with a new-look lineup?
“He’s got a 4:30 dentist appointment,” McClendon explained.
“He needs to get three at-bats pretty quickly. Really, that’s the only reason he’s up there.”
McClendon said Austin Jackson will remain the club’s leadoff hitter.
Weeks got his three at-bats in. He had a single, a strikeout and a hard liner to third before leaving the game.
PAXTON ON SUNDAY
Lefty James Paxton is ticketed to make his Cactus League debut Sunday against Texas at Peoria Stadium after reporting no day-after problems following his three-inning performance Tuesday in a simulated game.
Paxton has been slowed by a sore forearm, which he suffered when he stumbled while performing an agility drill prior to the start of camp. He vowed Tuesday to be ready for full duty by the start of the regular season.
McClendon said right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma would likely shift Sunday to a simulated game to accommodate Paxton. Iwakuma pitched four scoreless innings Tuesday in a 5-5 tie against the Chicago White Sox.
CY YOUNG ODDS
Mariners ace Felix Hernandez is a 13-5 favorite to win the American League Cy Young Award in the latest odds from Bovada.lv, the online gaming site.
Hernandez lost out last year by a narrow margin to Cleveland’s Corey Kluber, who is a 4-1 pick to repeat. Chicago lefty Chris Sale ranks third as a 5-1 pick.
Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano draws 7-1 odds to be the AL’s Most Valuable Player.
Los Angeles outfielder Mike Trout is even money to repeat, while Chicago first baseman Jose Abreu is a 4-1 pick. Cano is tied for third with Detroit first baseman Miguel Cabrera at 7-1.