So, last week I was in Seattle for a conference for work. It was a good conference, and Seattle is a nice town. Too bad the humidity, wind and rain do not agree with my headaches. Fortunately, I was there for just long enough to experience a beautiful clear night, and even more luckily, that night coincided with the evening I’d chosen to attend a Mariners game.
First off – Safeco field is close to downtown. If the weather had been nice, I might have considered walking since it’s only about a mile away. Since it was initially a little wet out, I decided instead to take the light rail, which was super convenient. The stadium station is fairly close, and it’s easy enough to follow the crowds towards the field, which looms over you along with CenturyLink Field (the football stadium).
I walked up to a ticket counter (fact: I’m not great at negotiating, and thus avoided the scalpers), and had a nice chat with the lady at the ticket counter about where to sit for how much money I was interested in spending. I was trying to decide between the 1B/RF side, or the 3B/LF side, and the ticket lady recommended 1B/RF because I would get to see Ichiro closer up, and the first baseman (Justin Smoak) was younger and cuter than the third baseman. Little did she know that I was very interested in seeing Dustin Ackley (the second baseman) because he is a product of the UNC baseball system (and I’m a UNC grad!).
Anyways, on the recommendation of Cheryl Nichols (of District Sports Page) who is a Mariners fan alum, I decided to visit the Mariners Hall of Fame (history museum). It was really interesting to see the development of baseball in the Northwest, and to see the arrival of the Mariners in 1977 – especially since it’s the 35th anniversary season for the team! Even funnier – the team was doing a 1950s throwback night the next Saturday where they would wear jerseys for the former Seattle Rainiers.
I grabbed some sushi (on Cheryl’s recommendation) – a Seattle Roll which included some really tasty smoked salmon on top. I made my way to my seat and was quite pleased with myself. I had a whole bunch of seats empty in front of me (ideal for photography), and was close enough to the action where everything wasn’t in super-zoom-mode.
I got to enjoy a fun pre-game – the Mariners moose was very energetic and ran around the field with great enthusiasm. A pre-game contest challenged a family to collect 30 jerseys in 5 minutes that were scattered across the outfield and to put them on the youngest family member a boy of about 7. They managed to collect…18 (I think?), which meant they all won free t-shirts. If all 30 jerseys had been worn, everyone in the stadium would have been entitled to 10% off jerseys in the team store. This is a promotion I could get behind! On the downside, since the Mariners are playing in a stadium that opened in 1999, they are dealing with late 90s display technology, and their video screen is quite small. It makes me appreciate the abilities of NatsHD and the video and graphics it can display.
As for the game – I got lucky again (not just with the weather!). Considering the fact that the Rangers had the best record in baseball, and that they had the highly coveted Yu Darvish pitching, things were remarkably lopsided in Seattle’s favor. Ichiro really started things off by cracking out a triple. It would not be his only appearance on base, and I got the feeling that Ichiro really wanted to prove that he was the star from Japan to all his visiting fans, and not the recently imported pitcher.
And Ichiro wasn’t the only one playing well. Pitching for the Mariners was “King” Felix Hernandez was pitching and he was SPECTACULAR in 8 innings of play. 7 strikeouts with just 2 walks. He was well deserving of the enthusiastic fan base that cheered loudly for him from the left field corner. They were perfectly matched in bright yellow. They had the requisite large cardboard heads of players/people that appear at every sports game in recent history. Every time he got to 2 strikes, they pulled out their K-cards and called for the K.
I really wish I could share more pictures. Mariners baseball was a lot of fun, and being a National League fan, it was neat to not have a dog in the fight. I rooted for the home team because it seemed more polite. I chatted with the local fans who sat next to me about their team and what I should know, and since I was wearing my DC hat, they asked about the Nationals, who are a very hot topic, even on the West Coast.
Kids – get out to ball parks across the country. The Nats may be our team, but this is our game, and it’s fun to see how it’s played in different regions and to experience all the flavors that our national past-time can produce.
Full album here.