After getting off work yesterday, I took a quick walk through Pioneer Square to SafeCo Field to meet Tom and my family for the Boston game. I was the first one there, and stood in line for a while surrounded by people both in line and moving down the sidewalk who may or may not have been drunk, and by the time Tom arrived with my parents, brother, and brother’s girlfriend, I was just about done with the public at large. I was ready to go inside, have a drink, and wind down from the work week; but nothing good ever comes without at least a little conflict, and just as the gates opened, Tom discovered that the tickets we had were actually for a Yankees game on the 13th. Of September. Oops. Panicked that we wouldn’t be able to exchange them for comparable tickets in what would surely be a mostly sold-out game, I nearly flew around the building to the customer service office on Edgar Martinez, and hurriedly explained my situation to the guy in the window. He was able to find me 6 seats, still in the second row of a view box section over the third base line, and I immediately took them and started to feel my blood pressure go down. Lesson learned. Next time? I check the tickets prior to going to the game. Way prior. The Ms have never made a mistake with my tickets before in 4 years, so it was a surprise, but they take care of the fans, and I totally appreciate that. Crisis averted.
I returned to where I had left the family sitting, and we went inside the field to have beer, get some food, and chat for a while. The atmosphere was pretty electric; they had the DJ going downstairs, and both Mariners and Red Sox fans were milling about, waiting to be able to go to the upper levels. People were drinking and chatting, and my mother and I spent some time on the couch by the open firewall talking to a fellow who was waiting for his family to arrive. He had a Mariners jersey on, but was wearing a Yankees cap, and had a ticket he obviously kept inside of the cap that was from a Yankees and Red Sox game on September 11th of 2005, at Yankee Stadium. He talked about visiting Cooperstown, the 2001 Mariners season, and the fact that he had a grandson named Nolan (yes, as in Ryan). He told us about how much he loved taking friends and family to visit New York, and chided my brother’s girlfriend Allison for her Red Sox cap (she is a native east coaster, and her family comes from Red Sox fans). I will probably never see this guy again, and likely have very little in common with him as a person outside baseball; but this is one of the many things I enjoy about the game. It can bring total strangers together on a level plane, and even people you would normally walk past and not acknowledge in the least if you were on the street become friends, even if it’s just for a few minutes. It’s a very interesting phenomenon, and I love it.
About 40 minutes before the game started, we took the escalator upstairs to our section, got some food, and then found our seats. The National Anthem was beautiful last night, and I am kicking myself for not having taken video. It was played by a woman on a 17th-century Stradivarius violin, and it was the most beautiful musical sound I’ve heard in a long, long time. She played with great emotion, and when it was over, received a massive ovation. Generally, I don’t care much for the National Anthem as a piece of music, and we have a lot of frequent flyer vocalists at SafeCo, so it’s not normally anything but a placeholder prior to game time. But this is one of those that I will remember always, merely for the performance. Absolutely stunning.
The King’s Court was moved last night up to the far northwest corner of the stadium, rather than downstairs in 151 or whatever the section is down on the main concourse. Better to charge the Boston bandwagon the full $55 for the seats downstairs, than only get the $33 that the King’s Court usually costs. Felix apparently wasn’t too happy about how far away they were, but the move didn’t seem to hinder the fans enthusiasm. A lot of mustard-colored shirts, a lot of “K” placards, and a lot of noise came out of that corner all night long. It helped to drown out the chants of the Boston fans, which became miraculously quiet from the get-go, as Ichiro, in his first at-bat, lobbed a home run off Josh Beckett, and the Mariners proceeded to keep pelting Beckett to the tune of five runs in the first inning. They were the only five runs we’d get all game, but it turned out to be enough. I was adamant about letting my folks know multiple times that with the Ichiro homer, they had just witnessed a precious gem; and I think I was so dedicated to repeating myself because I knew that I had witnessed it, too.
I’ve seen an Ichiro home run before, but what I’ve never seen is an umpire reverse a call; but that’s exactly what happened in the 4th inning, after Jacoby Ellsbury collided with Josh Bard so violently that it knocked Bard’s helmet off into the warning track. Ellsbury was out, which was easy to see even from where we were sitting, but especially easy to see on the video that I found on the Mariners website this afternoon (in the link there). Watch it if for nothing else other than to see Josh Bard with a fire in his eyes unlike anything I’ve ever seen before; both he and Felix were mad as hell over the initial call, and after watching the situation close up, I’m surprised nobody got punched. I was glad to see that the call was reversed, and I realize that I was witnessing a bit of history last night, something I may never see again. I tried to savor it as long as possible. I was also one of the many people giving Terry Francona a standing farewell as he was ejected from the game. The rest of the night went swimmingly, with Felix going 7 innings and giving Boston their 4 runs, and Jamey Wright taking care of the 8th, and of course Brandon League coming in for a pretty smooth save, with the whole stadium on their feet.
Today’s game was not as dramatic, and not quite as close, a Mariners win at 5-3. Charlie Furbush did a great job, our offense were warmed up and raring to go, and we took the series from Boston. There’s something about the Ms and Tim Wakefield this year, it seems like he just can’t really do much damage against us. Kyle Seager was interviewed after the game, and seemed to be in awe of the Wakefield knuckler, even though he hit it in his first at-bat. He’s right to be impressed, the knuckleball is an amazing thing. Wakefield went 8 innings today and gave up 9 hits, so not the best day for the veteran, but it was nice to see him throw, win or lose. Jack Wilson had a nice diving catch today that saved Fubush a single, and landed Wilson flat on his chest. I’m surprised that Wilson hasn’t had more injuries, with the way he plays. Glad, of course, but surprised. Watching him impact the ground hurt my ribs, so I can imagine he might not feel too hot. Then again, he’s probably used to it, right? And how about that Mike Carp? I don’t know what to say – he’s doing really well, and it’s great to see, and I hope it continues for him. And for us! We’re slowly creeping up to grab the Oakland A’s by the tag on the back of their jerseys. I don’t think we’ll break even this year, but stranger things have certainly happened in this great game.
I didn’t take as many pictures last night as I probably should have. I kept getting distracted by the games, talking to my family and the fans around me, and finally being able to take my family to a game that was not only a win, but a ridiculous spectacle on top of it. Probably one of my top 10 favorite games to have ever been at, I think I can say that with a good degree of confidence.
Tomorrow, we face the Toronto Blue Jays here at home, and are going to be without Justin Smoak, who landed on the 15-day DL (only!) for the broken nose and a fractured cheek part the name of which I can’t remember because my anatomy and physiology class was not that thorough. They showed Smoak sitting on the bench today during the televised game, and he looked OK – not puffy or bruised or anything, so perhaps the damage was as minimal as a busted-up face can be. Good to know.
I have no neat way to end this post, and I’m sure I missed a bunch of stuff, but I’m going to spend the rest of the day trying to relax as much as possible, as I’m seriously still recovering from the awesome of last night. I love you, baseball!