I wasn’t able to watch last night’s game, but I am well aware of the box score; it was the first thing I checked when I woke up this morning. I didn’t watch the second game of the series because sadly, I was too tired from being at Monday’s game. So let’s talk about that.
So Monday morning I was listening to Michael Gray on ESPN talking about what a great game Monday night’s game was going to be, how Blue Jays fans would descend upon the stadium and were we, as Mariners fans, ready to drown out their annual migration? Blue Jays fans coming to Safeco are well-known for their noise, their intoxication, and general obnoxiousness. I can understand wanting to cut loose on your three-day visit to another country to support your baseball team, but I don’t find it any less annoying when I see people sneaking in booze, or leaving beer cans on the sidewalk, or unable to comprehend why their five year old kid can’t go into a bar. You know what I like to do if I’m going somewhere other than home? Make sure I don’t break a bunch of liquor laws.
But I digress…
The fact of the matter is, that I made this comment on Twitter the other morning, jokingly complaining because I couldn’t afford tickets to the game but after getting the ESPN pep talk, really wanted to go, but figured I’d have to settle for watching it at home. The link will show you the follow up conversation; an employee of Safeco Field not only heard me, but took me seriously, and transferred his comp tickets to me. I spent the rest of the day scrambling to find someone to go with me, and finally my derby buddy Jeri took the second ticket.
It was hot Monday. If you’re not in Seattle, we have been having a pretty rough summer, by Seattle standards. It’s been very hot and humid and we have’t had significant rainfall since maybe June. Showering in the mornings usually makes you feel like you need another shower by the time you’re ready to leave the house. The city feels oppressive and dirty. I walked from work in this, dressed in my typical black, foolishly thinking I’d be able to chill at Jimmy’s for a bit in their air conditioning; but they were already packed to the gills with Jays fans, and even walking in would have been pointless. So I stood in the shade of their awning, texting people and using Twitter to kill the time, being passed by Jays fans and a handful of Mariners fans, before deciding to wander down to the CF entrance, because there was at least shade down that way.
I waited in line for a few minutes, headphones in, surrounded by – yep – Jays fans. At one point, a group of younger guys started a “Let’s go, Blue Jays!” chant, which ended with someone yelling “Go back to Canada!” I laughed to myself, when the guy in front of me asked if I was a Jays fan. I had my earphones in still, so took them out to ask him what he’d said. He apologized, asked again, and my immediate reaction was “Oh hell no!” He and his friends laughed, and then we talked about Munenori Kawasaki and RA Dickey, who pitches tonight.
Everyone was let into the stadium, and I went to settle in at Edgar’s to get out of the rush. About a half hour later or so, Daniel joined me, and then a while after that, Jeri found parking and had made her way to us. We stayed down there until about 6.30 or so, then went upstairs to grab our seats in the 300 section. Daniel eschewed his own season seat to join us, high up in the 24th row over far right field. And the King’s Court filled in…
The game remained scoreless but exciting until the 4th inning, when Jose Bautista hit a home run off Felix. And while there was a lot of energy at the park from both teams’ fans, I have seen this far too many times over the past few years. Felix pitches a gem, and the bats stay silent, costing him the win or worse, a no decision. But then, in the bottom of that inning, Robinson Cano took a walk, and Kendrys Morales hit a double, and thus began the decline of a pretty good Toronto team. Two runs in that inning, seven in the 6th (Jeri was asking me how many runs in one inning I’d ever seen, and I believe it was 5; and never from the Mariners), and two more in the 7th, which set the crowd off something ridiculous.
This photo above, of course was taken much earlier than the 7th inning; but I was so in the game, taking pictures was not a priority later on. In any event, you can see how full the stadium is (“filled to the corners”), and the fact that people were waving their yellow King towels around.
The thing that perhaps made this a far more dramatic game was the fact that around the 6th inning, the rain started to fall. There was thunder and lightening, and rain so hard they had to close the roof. ROOT Sports was able to screen capture this shot from their broadcast. This happened after Robinson Cano’s at bat:
We saw the strike from our seats, and I could have sworn it had hit the train tracks on the other side of the stadium. Of course, it didn’t, but it was so close and the thunder so loud, and then of course the good folks in the audio/visual box played AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” that by the time all was said and done, Mariners fans had been whipped into a cyclone of cheering and joy that I don’t think I have ever seen at Safeco Field with my own eyes. By the end of the 7th, a lot of the Jays fans were heading out of the stadium. They had quieted down considerably earlier anyway. A few of the loyal stuck it out, and kudos to them. I certainly would have, as well.
Felix pitched the top that magnificent 7th inning, then relinquished the mound to Joe Beimel, who was having no hitting from the Jays, no hitting at all for the 8th. Danny Farquhar came in for the 9th (I know it was not a save situation, but my night would have certainly been made 100% perfect if Fernando Rodney and all of his entrance music glory would have been thrown into the mix), and that was it. Bedtime for Blue Jays. Jeri and Daniel and I walked into the rain, absolutely satisfied with our night. Seriously; outside of the Rodney thing, it was about as close to a perfect night at the ballpark as you could get. I mean, a no hitter or CG or some other exotic feat notwithstanding, of course.
I understand that Rodney pitched the 6-3 win last night that I sadly had to sleep through (I was out like a light by about 6.15, if that is any indication as to how tired I was), and with that we at least take the series and tie for the Wild Card. Tonight might be a little more difficult; I am not sure how many of our guys have dealt with RA Dickey and the knuckleball, but we have Hisashi Iwakuma on the hill tonight, so it might even out a little. I really do wish I could go to this game too, but barring a miracle or a cash avalanche, it’s just not going to happen. I will be content to watch it on TV.
I don’t know what it is, folks, but ever since I watched Lou Piniella’s induction speech on Saturday, I have a really good feeling about the rest of this month and September. Lou gave the team and Lloyd McClendon a special nod at the end of his address, and while we lost that game, I have just had a rush of positivity about the Mariners the past few days. Like anything is possible. Am I still skeptical? Oh, absolutely; it’s the best way I know to shield myself from crushing failure and disappointment. But it’s amazing what winning a few games can to one’s morale as a baseball fan. I don’t know what will happen over the next 45 or so days, but for the first time since I became super cynical about the Mariners after losing yet another 101 games in 2010, I really and truly cannot wait to find out.