Wow. It has been a crazy past few days. I went to the game on Monday on a whim with my friend Kevin, then yesterday was a season ticket night. Today? I went to work, like normal; because before about 3PM today, it was indeed just a normal day. I had a meeting that started around 12.30 and lasted longer than it should. When I got back to my desk, I sat there for a moment and debated what I had to get done by the end of the day, and what I actually had time for. It was nearly 3PM, and my day was done at 3.45.
Around 2.53PM, I got the following text message from Kevin: “Oshit oh s*** oh s***“. When I asked him if he was OK (not even thinking about the fact that there was a game in progress, head still deep in work, wondering if possibly he’d just been in a bus accident or something), he asked me if I was watching the game. When I told him I was at work, he responded with: “Umm… felix. Get to a f****** radio stat.” (And yes, he types asterisks; this is not just me self-editing.) But I didn’t have my radio with me today; I left it on the table at home this morning, in a hurry to catch an earlier bus downtown. So I put up my “Break” sign and hopped onto Twitter, thinking I was going to see something about Felix being horribly, awfully injured. I mean, it’s the Mariners, and I have become a bit of a pessimist. But instead of bad news, I saw Twitter freaking out about something positive. Then a non-Mariners Twitter feed saying something about a perfecto. PERFECTO?!? I was simultaneously elated and disappointed. Disappointed because I had actually given some serious thought to taking a few hours off early today and going to the game; but it was just that, only a thought. And of course by going to these two games, I wound up seeing an awful loss and a wonderful last-minute win, and that was all very well and good. For a few seconds, I figured I’d leave it; don’t get online, don’t bother; I have work to do. But then it occurred to me, this hasn’t happened before. And it’s Felix Hernandez! At the very least, I could take a few moments to hop on Game Day and watch little cartoon baseballs animate their way into an animated strike zone, right? Work could wait!
But the Mariners website did me one better; the minute I clicked through the site to get to the scoreboard, a live feed of the game popped up on my computer screen. And there it was, the top of the 9th inning. I had no idea who was up to bat, and at the time didn’t care; all I knew is that I had to stop listening to Kevin Smith’s podcast and get my headphones into the computer’s audio jack as soon as humanly possible. And I sat there and stared, probably at least a little slack-jawed, at the last few minutes of a game that was already going to go into a history book somewhere, even if pinch hitter Jeff Keppinger or third baseman Sean Rodriguez had gotten a hit. I listened to a very lively Rick Rizzs make the calls, and watched Keppinger ground out and run haplessly towards first, never to make it on base safely. It’s not your day, Keppinger. This isn’t about you. Then the broadcast cameras focused everywhere in the stadium; fans taking video and photos with their phones, the group on their feet and waving their “K” signs in the King’s Court, and finally on Felix himself, as he dealt five pitches, none of them fastballs, to Rodriguez before the umpire punched the batter out and everything went nuts; the stadium, my Twitter feed, the team, and of course Felix.
Me? I did what anyone who takes pictures would do, and started taking pictures. With my phone. Of my computer screen.
I had friend who were at this game. My friend and mutual Green Bay Packer fan Kendra, and one of my best friends Jeri, who is a member of the Tilted Thunder Railbirds roller derby team were both there on work parties in different sections of the stadium. A lot of peripheral acquaintances and people I know in name only attended today’s game. I am so ridiculously happy for them. I can’t even imagine the high I would still be on now, three hours later, had I also been at the park. In a year where Not Much has happened for the Seattle Mariners, this afternoon’s game will secure a special, very well-lit, and meticulously cared-for spot in a lot of Mariners fans hearts and minds. We will make sure it gets fed and watered every day, that it gets enough sleep, and a lot of hugs. We’ll tuck it in at night, and give it cake on its birthday. This is a special event indeed. And those of us who weren’t there will wish with every fiber that we had been. We’ll ask you, those of you who were there, how it was, how it felt, what you did after to celebrate. We’ll ask you for details; was the atmosphere electric? Did the fans show the appropriate amount of excitement? Did you get the biggest case of chills you’ve ever had at a baseball game? You lucky bastards.
I never really stood a chance of witnessing this afternoon’s spectacle with my own eyes or ears. But those last 2-3 minutes, this last glorious little bit that I got to see, these last two outs…that will stay with me forever. And you know that if there was anyone who was destined to throw a perfect game on a team that has been floundering for years – certainly as long as I myself have been a fan – it was going to be Felix Hernandez. It was only a matter of time. I wish I could have been there.
Congratulations, Felix. And thank you.