So last night was Opening Day for most teams in MLB, and the Mariners did their biggest-sports-bar-in-the-world impression, and had an open house for fans to come and watch the game on the big screen, while enjoying food and a lot of other regular amenities the lower decks of the park have to offer.
I left work a smidge early to drive back home and get Tom, and we parked down off 1st Ave S to go sit at Hooverville for a bit and have a drink or two while waiting for Jessica to join us. We were also joined – quite by surprise – by none other than sometimes-S331-contributor Daniel Carroll, and after two drinks and some general conversation, the four of us left for the field around 5PM.
Due to my back issues, I am a slow walker, and standing is nearly impossible. I decided to hit up the office over home plate and see if we could get me a wheelchair. After some discussion as to what my problem was that I would need one, and some lighthearted joking around with one of the staff, a gentleman with a nametag that read “Jim P” showed up, and we discussed what my options were. He informed me that generally speaking, the normally wheel you to your seat, and then it’s up to you to figure it out from there. I told him that I had hoped we could sort of “rent” it for the evening so that we could move around the park and talk to people and such. His response: “I’ll see what I can do!” So at my request, he wheeled me down 1st Ave and then down past The Pen entrance and to the CF entrance, the two of us chatting about the stadium and such as Tom and Jessica followed (Daniel had departed to meet his folks up on the Terrace Club level). We waited for the gates to open, got our bags searched, Jim P. made sure we all three got our True to the Blue shirts, and then told us that we could have the chair for the evening, so long as someone had an ID card to exchange for it. Jessica gave him her Civil Air Patrol ID, and Mr P. said that we should just bring the chair back to Guest Services and that was all we needed to do! I really cannot express how much this meant to me, because my evening was the difference between having and not having that chair. So Jim P., wherever you are, thanks a ton for your help. It was much appreciated.
After our guide left us to our own devices, Tom immediately put the chair into a wheelie position for Jessica to take a picture.
So we traveled around The Pen, said hi to some of the employees there (I’m a frequent flier at Edgar’s during the season), and got some beer and just hung out for a bit. My friends Su and Patrick showed up, as did none other than the Mariner Housewife herself, Moira Koskey, who came up from Portland for the event. We all sat or stood around and chatted, made jokes at my expense, and waited for the game. At around game time, Tom, Su, Jessica and myself did the elevator thing to the Moose Den, wheeled around the outfield, and found a place to sit for a bit over section 143 for the first 3-4 innings of the game. I had some garlic fries, because why not, and things were generally OK in the temperature department up until maybe the bottom of the 4th or so. Around that point, everyone was cold, so we decided to take a walk around the warning track. In all the times I have been to Safeco, I have never done this. It is normally not open for just walking around during Fanfest, and while it was open last year for strolling purposes, I had season tickets and wifi access for blogging, so I was up in the Terrace Club until later in the evening.
Another elevator trip and some under-the-stadium walking later, and we were on the warning track. We wound up hanging out in center field, watching the game above us from where Franklin Gutierrez and Michael Saunders have taken many a crash into the wall. This was all fun and great until I started getting even colder, and the four of us decided that perhaps a little more food was necessary; specifically, the new fried pickles that are now served at Swingin’ Wings, which is in the same spot as the old crepe place used to be.
I have to say, I miss the crepes. I didn’t have a ton of them, but it was nice to know it was an option, because they were light and the fruit ones made a nice sort of treat if you didn’t want to go nuts with ice cream or candy. The pickles are good, though – nice giant spears with a light cornmeal batter, they are served with a thin blue cheese dip. Not for the faint of heart. Literally. Jessica and Su and Tom got the fried cheese curds, which were great, but it was definitely a situation where all of our eyes were bigger than our stomachs. We watched a clip of Vladimir Guerrero throwing out the first pitch earlier in the evening. Guerrero had signed a one-day contract so that he could retire an Angel. This makes me happy beyond measure. I spent my formative baseball years scared to death of every Guerrero at-bat, regardless of who was on the mound for the Mariners. Guerrero has my utmost respect as a player, and I’m glad he got to retire in the place that made him known to me.
By then, though I was tired, in a bit of pain (sitting is no picnic, either), and too cold to stay any longer. We took the elevator again up and around the right field side of the park, and turned in the chair, got Jessica’s ID back, and slowly (because that is the only way I could do it) left Safeco Field, as the game was starting into the 7th or 8th inning. Tom and I walked back to the car, and I made it as far as Hooverville down 1st before I simply couldn’t walk anymore, so Tom got the car and we went home to watch the rest of the game – complete with massive offensive explosion against reliever Kevin Jepsen in the top of the 9th inning. Because of that inning, Jepsen’s ERA sits at a cool 67.50. I’d feel bad, but I just can’t. It was nice to see hitting from the Mariners, regardless of how poorly Jepsen might have been pitching.
I woke up this morning feeling OK physically – though still in pain – and finding that I am keenly interested in purchasing a walking cane for my trip east. The chair was fun, but I didn’t feel like I had much control over where it was that I was going (even though Tom is a good driver), and I need my own mobility, if I can get it.
So major thanks to the Mariners’ employees for all their help. I wish I could have stayed longer, but my back is going to control me for a bit. Best case scenario, last night was a test run for the real deal next Tuesday; because I won’t be leaving that game. Go Ms!