The title is mostly to remind myself that regardless of how bummed out I am about Opening Day, there is still more baseball coming, more opportunities for the guys to turn this around. I would have had this up yesterday, but frankly, going to Cactus on Alki and drowning our sorrows after all was said and done last night seemed like a better alternative than coming home and trying to find something pleasant to say about the game. The sad thing is – to me, at least – that things were going swimmingly in every way up until about the 4th or 5th inning. But I digress. Story time.
Conor and I headed to the Elysian Fields Brewery after getting really lucky in the parking department (the lots around the stadium were charging up to $50 for parking – no, thanks), and walked into the middle of a KISW promotional that looked like it had been going on far before we got there. The bar was full, so we opted to sit in the dining area, where we met up with some other folks from the Twitter-verse and spent a good few hours chatting about this and that. By the time 2pm rolled around, the bar was getting absolutely too crowded for my tastes, and we decided to go find some other friends who had contacted us about being in the area. We wound up finding Liz Mathews from ESPN Seattle, set up under a tent by the left field entrance, and chatting for a bit until my friend Jim buzzed and told me he was inside the field. So we headed down to the center field entrance to go grab a beer from the Bullpen Landing bar. Once safely inside, we met up with Jim and Dan and had a round before going to our seats:
Once at our seats, I had the realization that we had missed the Death Cab for Cutie performance, which apparently (we found out later) consisted of them performing the song “Centerfield”. With everything going on and the fact that I am shorter than just about everyone except children at any given public gathering, I wouldn’t have been able to see it from that lower deck anyway. As it was, Conor guessed we may have actually been outside talking to Liz when it happened.
After the lineups on both teams were announced (and Milton Bradley got what I thought was a nice, warm welcome from the city of Seattle), it was time for the first pitch to be thrown out. To the familiar strains of what I assume was his song (remember, it was a bit before my time), Randy Johnson walked out from the center field doors, and slowly across the field , and the entire stadium went nuts:
I had heard a few months back that Rob Johnson was going to be making the catch at the plate for this, but obviously the plans changed. There was then a photo-opp with Jay Buhner, Ken Griffey Jr, Dan Wilson, Randy, and Edgar Martinez. The crowd loved it:
Except that then it wasn’t. It really, really wasn’t. I’m still trying to keep things in perspective, still trying to be optimistic, still trying not to panic, still trying not to even so much as think the words “two thousand eight”. This helps a little bit…but it’s different when you’re there, when, even though you vowed beforehand to not have any expectations, you have to watch things crumble right in front of you. So I did what I always do when things fall apart during a Seattle Mariners game; I go to the happiest place in the stadium.
Conor and I grabbed a beer and a gyro from the new stand in the upper deck (thumbs up on that, by the way- if memory serves it’s around section 341 or so; I highly recommend), and headed down to say hello to new baseball buddy Lisa before braving the drunken hordes down by the bullpen. At least if our offense wasn’t going to show up, I could go down there and see how Barnie Nullsperm was doing. Shawn Kelley was getting stretched out and warmed up when we got to the fence, and there, much to my delight, was a very pleasant surprise:
I didn’t get many photos. The sold-out crowd, the loss, everything was overwhelming. We wandered up towards the main concourse to try and find Pat Dillon from AquaSox Radio, but the crowds and my wonky cell phone conspired against us. When the last out was recorded, we made a beeline for the Team Store so I could get my yearly team photo (every year since 2007), and then tried to get into Hooverville down the street for some ciders, but that plan, too, was thwarted by crowds. Having had enough of Sodo, we took the long walk of shame back to the car, and went to the aforementioned watering hole in West Seattle, where the bartender was understanding of our plight, and gave us margaritas and all the chips and salsa we could eat for the next few hours.
I’ve seen worse games, but I’ve also seen better. I’m still glad I went, sure, but it’s hard to watch a team you love struggle against the tide of…the Oakland A’s. I won’t give up on them any time soon; I remain hopeful that we can wake up our sleepy offense soon. It’s still early, I remain happy that there is baseball on, there are more games to be played, and I’ll be there again tomorrow to sit in the bleachers and hope for a win, like I do every day during this long, long season.
And really, I did have a lot of fun, even if we didn’t win.