This one’s going to be photo-heavy. I got some good ones.
Last night marked our first season game in our actual seats, section 182, left field bleachers. We’re in row 4, right over the ESPN sign. When I chose these seats, I had been in the area before, but wasn’t entirely sure if I’d enjoy it for a full season, because I just remembered feeling so far away from the game. Well, I was very pleased to find out that that’s simply not the case. I don’t know whether it was the company I was keeping (Conor and Jessica), the impromptu cheering section that formed in 180, or the banter back and forth with the folks in the surrounding area, but I had one of the best times I’ve ever had at a game, and my face still hurts a little from laughing and screaming. Maybe it was the Thai food I had pre-game (Thai Ginger, I love you so hard), or the little Oakland A’s fans sitting a few rows in front of us cheering for “I-Cheerio”…or maybe it was the win? It may remain a mystery, but I had a blast.
Jessica swung by to pick up Conor and me a little after 5pm. We beat it down to the Hooverville area, and parked the car on the street for free, despite a parking attendant’s best efforts to get us to do otherwise. Jessica brought her wheelchair, but she’s doing really well now, and can walk decent distances with just her cane with a minimum amount of pain (if any at all), so we strolled down to SafeCo, got searched, and I made a beeline for Intentional Wok. Jessica got a Polish dog, and we all went to check out our new digs, and take in a little batting practice and the general atmosphere.
Not quite sure if the bullpen was doing some bullpen thing or what, but David Aardsma and John Wetteland walked across the field to the pen backwards the entire way, and it almost looked like the entire pen was running away from poor Kanekoa Texeira, taking up the rear with his Hello Kitty backpack.
The On Deck Show eventually started, and it was then that it was announced that Gene Porter, a local proprietor of Dixie’s BBQ, and inventor of a hot sauce known as “The Man” (as in, ‘would you like to meet The Man’?) had recently died. There is at least one Dixie’s location in SafeCo Field, and I have met The Man there. I cannot for the life of me understand how a guy who looked like he was a kindly gentleman in life could have come up with something that caused me a great deal of excruciating facial pain for the better part of two hours during a White Sox game back in 2007. My hat is off to you, sir. God speed.
The “play ball kid” said “Play ball!”, and the game was afoot. Eric Byrnes started things off right by attempting a running catch on a fly ball that wound up in the stands in left field, but he gave it a good shot and wound up wet and muddy for his troubles:
Brett Miller, a fellow Lookout Landing participant, brought his banner with him to right field:
The game was peppered with some fairly bad baserunning on the parts of both Jose Lopez and Milton Bradley, rundowns that didn’t need to happen but looked like they were both borne out of a fair amount of confusion between the players and the third base coach. With Jake Fox having already driven in a 2-run homer in the second inning, and the bases loaded in the 5th, Milton Bradley was up to bat. Since the fans had already booed his rundown loudly, I was terrified that he would strike out and it would lead to more booing. Conor had far more faith than I, and it turned out to be justified; Bradley swung for a single and sent both Chone Figgins and Ichiro, who had singled and walked respectively, home to tie up the score. At that point, Gio Gonzalez was asked to leave the mound:
Gaudin polished the rest of his Mariners off in the 5th, but did not have that same luck in the 6th, when he allowed two runs to sneak through for us, courtesy of Franklin Gutierrez and Jose Lopez line drives. And these guys were awesome – they spent most of the second half of the game standing up and cheering in unison. Not terribly creative cheers (usually some variation of “Let’s go (insert player name here) *clap-clap clapclapclap), but cheers nonetheless, cheers that were not generated by the SafeCo Field video screens. They are my new favorite people in the stadium, and I am very much hoping that they have season tickets in that section all year long.
In the 8th inning, Jose Lopez tipped a ball that instant replay apparently (per several folks on Twitter) showed was in fact tipped. The A’s didn’t agree with the call, however, and we got treated to about two full songs while their manager argued with the umpires, and Lopez stood by, stretching and getting ready to hear the final decision. It was in favor of Lopez, who then called out on strikes.
Had I known that it was going to take so long for them to figure this out, I would have tried to get down to the pen to take pictures of David Aardsma warming up – but it was one of those things where I knew if I went down at any given time, I’d be too late. So I stayed put. He came out, did some pitching, and saved our game:
Our night was also punctuated by some guy in the next section over who was wearing a Cubs jersey (a Milton Bradley Cubs jersey, no less), and would not stop heckling Eric Patterson. Conor came to the very true conclusion that Patterson may have at one point been a Cub (true! 2006 and 2007 seasons), and we figured the guy may have had his heart broken. Whatever the case, at one point he was standing up on one of the bleachers yelling Patterson’s name, and Jessica pointed out loudly that he had been spitting in the hair of a young woman sitting down a few rows from him. The woman heard and looked back, terrified, yelling “He spit in MY hair?!” I nodded, and the guy retreated back to his seat while calling Jessica a “hater”, but the anti-Patterson agenda continued, after he’d gathered up a bit of his pride. After a while, it just became funny.
We also met some of the folks around us, on the same game plan as we are, and had some marvelous hot cocoa that served to keep us warm all night despite a little bit of wind and lower temperatures after sunset. A win, good company, and an excellent time. I can hardly wait to do it again next week!