I am still terribly busy, but I am making myself sit down and do this because it needs to be done!
My friend Su conned me into going to the Mariners Supreme Court game last night, Felix’s start after his perfecto. When I say “conned”, it’s not that I didn’t want to go, it’s that I’ve been to five games in less than two weeks, so money is tight and my sleep schedule has been suffering. But when I finally found out what was going on the day after she asked me if I wanted to go, there was no way I was going to watch this game from home. So we rounded up two more friends, Kevin and Cynthia, and braved the massive crowd of some 39,000 people or so to sit in section 332, eat some garlic fries and Ivar’s and enjoy the Supreme Court.
I’m not a huge worrier about getting the things that are given away at the door during promotional nights. There are definitely some things that I honestly do want, but I am not one to pitch a fit if I am late to the party…then again, I’m rarely late to the party. But I did want a shirt and my K card, because the card is going to be kept safe with the copy of the Seattle Times that I purchased the morning after Felix pitched his perfecto, and I didn’t want to be a little spot of black in a sea of King’s gold. Kevin met me at work and we walked down to meet the ladies. By the time we got to the corner of Occidental and Royal Brougham, there weren’t a whole lot of people there, so we ducked into Jimmy’s for a quick round. By the time we came out, the whole area was swarming with yellow shirts and K cards, and lines going multiple directions and wrapping around the stadium. Thankfully, we found Su and Cyn just as the numbers outside the Field were dwindling down, which made it easier to get our stuff searched, retrieve our delightful shirts (I’m being half sarcastic, I love my shirt but I look just terrible in yellow), our K cards, and an extra surprise; a pack of Mariners trading cards. Everyone put their shirts on almost immediately except me; I am murder on anything light colored when I have food in my possession, and figured it would be far wiser to eat dinner first in my black work clothes than risk dipping myself in ketchup or barbecue sauce.
Some food, our seats, and a friendly threat from a fan in back of us later (he told me that he was “the shirt Nazi”, and that I needed to make sure I had my shirt on), and we were ready to go. And the stadium gradually started to fill up with King’s Court yellow…
I guess it was Japanese Heritage Night last night as well. I feel badly for the performers who were good, but were overshadowed by the obvious main event of the evening. Still, they put on a taiko show, made doubly impressive by the fact that the drums were being played to a piece of music that was being pumped over the PA; I can’t imagine what the kickback must have been like, but you never would have known.
This last little ritual was done by this currently unidentified batter to each member of the bullpen. I wish I had a name for you here, but there was so much to look at, so much I was trying to get photos of, and so many people in the way trying to find their seats that I was a little like a kid in a candy store trying to get the pictures that I got without worrying about the people in them. That’s not my general practice, last night was just crazy.
Fredy Montero of the Sounders was on hand to throw the first pitch out to – who else – Jesus Montero.
After a very successful pitch into Montero’s glove, Fredy ripped off his jersey to reveal a yellow King of Perfection shirt, turned heel on the mound, and, well, Felix’d. I don’t know how to feel about “Felixing”, really. It didn’t really register when he threw that last called strike that he was doing anything other than a normal gesture of tension release, a reaction to being done and off the hook and out of danger. But it has taken off, and I don’t begrudge anyone their salute to Felix’s accomplishment. Felix away, Mariners fans.
The National Anthem was sung by an Asian men’s glee club with a brilliant arrangement, the Play Ball! Kid did her thing, and the Mariners took the field, while the stadium lit up. I’m not ashamed to admit that the banners gave me the chills:
And Felix took the hill to noise like I have never heard in Safeco before. He had a little bit of trouble at first – it may have been noise like he’s never heard before – but settled down soon enough and got into a groove and was able to take care of business.
Because it was a Tuesday, the Dancing Grounds Crew came out to do their thing. They walked onto the field in their regular groundskeeping outfits, twirled their rakes in the air like normal before putting them aside in the grass, then off came the jackets to reveal more yellow shirts!
Things were fun but pretty dim for the first four innings until Eric Thames decided enough was enough and sent a ball over the right field fences for our first run. Again, the noise was absolutely unreal.
Felix is kindly asked to leave during the top of the 8th inning. He didn’t do poorly, but he wasn’t spot-on Felix, really, either. The run support certainly helped a lot, and I’m sure I wasn’t alone in hoping he’d pitch the complete game; but Eric Wedge had made his decision, and his decision was to sub Lucas Luetge in for the remainder of the game. Felix got a standing ovation for his troubles, and gave the stadium extra hat waves all around.
And of course we won, in spite of some statistic I had heard earlier in the day that pitchers who pitch perfect games often falter during their next turn in the rotation. Felix was not interested in being a statistic. I couldn’t capture it properly in the picture above, but as everyone came back into the dugout from on-field congratulating each other, Munenori Kawasaki was on the field doing some sort of dance that involved waving his arms around and gesticulating wildly at the players and his surroundings in general. Su noticed that earlier in the evening, he was “playing” the PA organ on the dugout fence, and she heard from Shannon Drayer that he gives quite a performance – or something – during the National Anthems. I will be keeping an eye out in the future. I got some video, but it might have to wait until tomorrow: YouTube is taking ages to load things up, and I have already been at this for about two hours now…
In my time as a Mariners fan, I have been through some pretty low times, along with all of you, and I have occasionally questioned my baseball fandom. But last night Safeco Field was lit up like I have never seen before, in ways I have never seen before. It wasn’t just the yellow, or the special lighting, or the fact that everyone there seemed to have a smile on their face. It wasn’t the yellow shirt Dave Niehaus’s statue over center field, or the delicious Italian sausage I had, or even the company I was keeping. Or maybe it was all of that. Maybe it was all of that and a Felix start, and a feeling of hope I haven’t felt since 2009, when the bullpen led their charge of 300, Ichiro and Griffey Jr were BFFs, and Mike Sweeney was hugging anything that moved. It was a nice little slice of a playoff atmosphere without the pressure of a playoff situation.
As Kevin and Cynthia parted ways with Su and I to get to their respective buses, and Su and I made for her car so I could get back to West Seattle, yellow shirts spilled out onto the sidewalks around the stadium. People were singing, high-fiving, and shouting joyously and honking from cars as we drove even blocks south of the Field. Smiling, laughing, happy Mariners fans. It was an absolutely beautiful thing.