I am exhausted from what turned out to be a nearly-four hour game down in Tacoma last night, and the subsequent drive back to Seattle. I’m useless these days without a good 7-8 hours sleep, and I am stuck here with less than six, so this is going to be a bit of a chore here.
My friend Justin and I drove down to Tacoma yesterday afternoon, winding up at Cheney Stadium a little earlier than I had thought we would. On the rare occasions I make it to a Rainiers game, I normally leave West Seattle somewhere between 4.30 and 5 to try and avoid as much of the weekday rush hour as possible, and usually still wind up getting stuck in some mess down around Fife. But it looks like the newly-completed ramp to 16W has taken some of the pressure off the roadways down there, and by 5.25 or so, we were forking over a five-spot to the kids who man the parking attendant checkpoint. I have not been to Cheney since the remodel, and was happy to be greeted by its new facade:
We got our tickets and hung around on a bench out front for a half hour, chatting and waiting. When the gates finally opened, we wandered around to see what our food options might be for later, and I grabbed a pint of beer before we went to our seats. Anthony Vasquez (who is starting tonight, coincidentally) was sitting and waiting to give autographs to whomever might want them. I debated it for a few seconds, then decided against it. I’m still not that person.
Those of you who haven’t been to the revamped stadium yet should know that the main structure is still intact; the exposed underside of the stadium that used to be home to the bathrooms and the main concession stand is now home to the bathrooms and a lot of wall. The concessions have been moved to the outer side of the interior yard. In the photo above, if you look at the section of building off to the right side of the staircase on the ground level, on that side and the mirroring side of the ticket office in the middle there are the concessions.
Here’s what things look like inside:
The outfield looks pretty much the same…
Even the lower box seats are a little more set apart from the rest of the seating now, and there is order-from-your-seat service down there now. Either that, or that woman was really into carrying beer around on trays.
I don’t know what is happening here. He did it for quite some time. I am thinking either stretching or praying, because the alternative involves him running around in a circle with his forehead on the bat and trying to run a straight line, and sadly that never happened.
Just before the National Anthem (sung by a local school or church group, I did not catch which), we went out to grab some food so we could get back to our seats before the game started. I got fish and chips, and Justin had a salmon burger and fries. My dinner was way better than any food I’ve ever had at Cheney before, and Justin’s food not only looked great, but he verified that it was in fact excellent. I am pleased to see the upgrade; part of what I never liked about going there was the fact that the food was so run-of-the-mill. There have been definite improvements made. The stadium also boasts a “best hot dog in baseball” which I did not get to try yesterday, but might have to go back for. I do love a challenge.
A full stomach and a “Play Ball” kid later, the game was underway, with Forrest Snow starting on the hill for Tacoma.
Had I any way of knowing what would happen during this game, I would have brought a note pad to try and describe it. If you want a game recap, the News-Tribune has one here. Snow was pelted pretty hard in the first inning, with the Grizzlies grabbing 3 runs off of him before he settled down and got some work done. And the first few innings were just difficult to watch. In the bottom of the first, with no men out, no men on, and no runs scored, Trayvon Robinson did this:
What you are seeing (in case it’s not obvious) is Trayvon Robinson attempting to bunt. He also showed bunt, which is why bunting never works. With a score of 3-0 in the first inning of a game with nobody to move forward, Trayvon Robinson attempted to bunt. I am still busy trying to figure out if this was manager Darren Brown’s decision, or if Robinson just became creative on his own. But the fun doesn’t stop there…Luis Rodriguez did the same thing. Both men wound up out. I know this is a huge shock to anyone reading this. Were it not for the following three singles and some awful pitching on Fresno’s part, that first run might never have come in.
When it was determined that Snow was alright after some warmup tosses, the game resumed. Unfortunately, Snow must still have been reeling a little from that ball, because the Grizzlies fetched two more runs that inning from him. Things started looking pretty bleak for Tacoma, and even though I like to say I’m used to it and joke about the way things go for fans of all things Mariners, it was a little depressing. But it’s never over until it’s over.
The Rainiers managed to threaten a little in the bottom of the 4th, with a single, and a walk, but Johan Limonta made good and sure we wouldn’t get far (that’s sarcasm), grounding out to end the inning. As he started to wind down a little, Snow was replaced in the 5th inning with a fellow named Brian Sweeney, who held his own until the 8th inning. throwing 2.2 innings, allowing 4 hits, no walks, no runs, and one strikeout.
The rest of the game, well, the recap is here. But the writing there is just words, and doesn’t do justice to some of the bizarre flubs, throwing and fielding errors, and general confusion that contributed to what started from around the 6th inning to turn into a rubber game worthy of Miguel Batista himself. I looked at the clock in the 6th inning, and upon seeing the time hovering around 9.15, figured I was right on pace to be home by around 11pm. I could not have been more wrong. The Grizzlies stalled. They had mound conferences. They attempted pickoffs. They used four more pitchers. Reliever Shane Loux got ejected by the home plate umpire, though I am not sure for what. What should have taken maybe an hour turned into an hour and 45 minutes.
And while Fresno spent their time panicking and going through their bullpen like they were at a Black Friday sale, Oliver Perez took Sweeney’s place in the top of the 8th and finished out the pitching game. The Rainiers offense in turn took it upon themselves to tie the game in the 8th inning, and after more stalling than I may have ever seen by an opposing ball club, finally won the game with a walk-off single from Carlos Triunfel.
Were it not for Justin, I might not have made it through. He may be my new favorite person to go to a game with. He’s a Seahawks fan, and he’s loud. Being at a ‘Hawks game, though, is not like being at a minor league ballpark, and he spent most of the last part of the game keeping me awake and some of the people sitting around us entertained. I took some time to live-Tweet his anti-Fresno taunts during the game, and it would not surprise me in the least if he and some guy up in the suites were audible over the radio broadcast. It was a great night and a great win made better by my two cozy jackets, and I will try and not let so much time go by before I make my way down to see the Rainiers again.
Oh, and I also got to see mascot Rhubarb get lightly taunted by a police officer carrying a taser, so that was kind of funny.
As I post this, the Mariners post-game show is on, and the Mariners have just secured a win against the Detroit Tigers with Jason Vargas getting that win, and Brandon League getting the save he should have gotten last week when Felix was pitching. So smiles all around from this little corner of the internet. Felix will go up against Adam Wilk in Detroit tomorrow, and I hope the bats can pull out some offense for him this time. Meanwhile, I am sleepy and need to start thinking about getting some make-up rest, and I have no proper sign off or ending to this post. Good night!