First, a bit of a warning; I found out the hard way on the Seattle-San Francisco leg of my trip that sitting in airplane seats with a slipped disc/sciatica is no picnic. I was able to grab some food and take some pain medication, so this is a caveat that if anything sounds weird in this post, I am blaming it entirely on a capsule of oxycodone and the whopping three hours of sleep I got last night. If I had had a choice, I would have opted for a later flight; but it was either 6AM, or get to DC after 11PM today, and I need to have dinner at Nando’s tonight – need to – so 6AM was my option.
So how about those Mariners, eh? If you weren’t at the game, I am sorry, and if you didn’t watch it on TV either, you surely missed a wonderfully suspenseful and eventful opening day.
I got out of work around 3.15PM, planning to walk to the stadium and meet Tom at Jimmy’s. Before I left, I got a text from him saying that Jimmys’ was wall-to-wall people, and that he’d meet me at the Pyramid beer garden instead. It was windy and raining, and I am still using a cane to get around (in the event you haven’t been playing along on Twitter, it’s Robinson Cane-o), so in an effort not to make my life a mess of difficulty by carrying a golf umbrella and walking with a cane, plus my bag, I opted to take the 21 to the Edgar Martinez stop, walk carefully up the stairs, and meet Tom at Pyramid, where I really enjoyed the daylights out of an Apricot Ale as we sat near the loading bay in the rain. Then we went across the street to the stadium.
Around 4.40PM, there was a countdown from the 710 ESPN booth near left field, with people yelling “Happy new year!” and the gate horns blowing to signify that the field was open. We went to the center field entrance, donated a few dollars and change to the Red Cross folks who were out collecting for the devastation in Oso, and got inside. I waited in line – painfully – for a beer from my favorite bartender down in The Pen, and Tom and I stood around while I drank it and chatted with a pair of alcohol enforcement officers I always say hi to down there. When I was done with my drink and it became abundantly apparent that amateur hour had started (I stood and watched as a fellow in his mid-20s was nearly unable to make his mouth with his glass, and still had another full glass in his possession), we went to the elevator to get to the main concourse, and then up to the 300 level.
Our seats were in 341, so after procuring yet another beer (I’m on vacation, shush), we went to our seats. It was a pair of view box seats, which honestly I didn’t realize I had purchased, and the view was fantastic. It was nice to just sit up there as the seats filled in, watching the grounds crew make a giant “2014” with Diamond-Dri behind second base, and the other preparations they normally go through.
And again, as every year, we had the red carpet out for the boys, with some season ticket holders lining up for their run:
Robinson Cano was the winner of the 2013 Silver Slugger Award, and while I am of course super happy for him, it seems odd that Jack Zduriencik and company should be presenting the award to him for things he did while in New York. But I don’t really mind. We could have nobody worthy of a Silver Slugger at all. I am just glad he’s on our side now. In spite of any misgivings I may have had about the actual deal we made to get him, I am solidly a Cano fan. He was good when he was with the Yankees, there is no reason to think, based on what I have seen so far, that his performance won’t continue, at least for a little while.
Part of the evening’s pre-game ceremonies included a big nod to our dear Seattle Seahawks, who, if you recall, won an Actual SuperBowl this year! I of course was hoping for Green Bay to top the 49ers in the playoffs, but that did not happen in what I can only describe as a very funny text conversation between me and my friend Rick (whom I am flying to meet right now), in which he was convinced the Packers were going to best San Francisco. Of course the 49ers came back towards the end of that contest, in what I refer to as a just-my-luck kind of game. Then some other stuff happened and the Seahawks won the SuperBowl in an amazing rout of 48-3 or something ridiculous like that. Yeah, yeah, it’s not my game. But I got caught up in the fervor of it all, too, if only because every year the SuperBowl means that we can all relax because baseball is around the corner. Anyway, some pictures of the fellows responsible, as they walked across the field to the strains of “Bittersweet Symphony”. With the trophy, even!
After that, it was time to start. I decided to go grab one more drink, figuring the lines would have calmed down by then. I’m kind of glad I did, because the Angels lit James Paxton up like a candle, taking three runs from him in the top of the first inning. I figured that it was still early, but also, that we were still watching the Mariners, and in spite of their amazing road 4-2 trip, I am definitely preparing myself for when things go horribly, terribly wrong. What better opportunity than the home opener?
I am huge fan of consistency and reliability, and so with all the roster changes from year to year and sometimes month to month, it makes me happy to see familiar things at the ballpark. These two groups of fans, The Four Old Bats and Amy the Ichimeter lady and her family, always make me feel like I’m truly at home in Safeco Field. I just love knowing they’re there. When it was announced that Ichiro was going to New York, Amy was the first person that popped into my head. You don’t find fan devotion to that extent very often, nor do you find it reciprocated by players; I understand that Ichiro has given Amy a pair of his shoes, among other small baseball tokens of appreciation for her fandom. You don’t see a player/fan relationship like theirs every day, and I look forward to seeing the ‘Meter out over right again when the Yankees visit us this year.
The game certainly did start off poorly, but it didn’t stay that way for long. Corey Hart proved to be the man of the evening last night, hitting two home runs – one with two on base, and the other a solo crush over left – that really helped us out. It is such a rare thing for the Mariners to have a DH who actually H’s; I could not have been happier with Hart’s performance last night.
Pujols and Zunino in their reversed roles. I have come to really like Mike Zunino. He and Brad Miller have been turning this into a really exciting season so far for me. I don’t know if it’s the fact that they both seem to have been doing pretty well at a major league level so early in the year, or their general upbeat attitudes towards being here, or both…probably both. Just glad to see us fielding another team that I think I’m going to really like no matter what. The last time that happened was in 2009, so I feel I’m about due.
Jamex Paxton left in the middle of the 6th inning due to what they are calling a strained latissmus dorsi. I hope it is nothing more than a strain and does not, in fact, mirror Stephen Pryor’s early season issues from last year. In any event, as sad as it might have been that Paxton was settling down and pitching well, holding the Angels to only those first three runs, he was replaced by Yoervis Medina, who was replaced by Danny Farquhar, who was replaced by this guy!
Justin Smoak, yelling at someone after his 5th inning double. Smoak was in fine form last night, going 2 for 4, and driving a run in. I am just checking the box as I write this, and Corey Hart was 4 for 4! Something I didn’t key into last night. Very impressive. We don’t get that much here in blue and gray country.
After Corey Hart sealed the thing for us by hitting his solo jack in the bottom of the 7th, and the Mariners relievers had all managed to keep the Angels from advancing their runs any further, Fernando Rodney came in with the best entrance song and best graphics I have seen in a while. Very simple blue and white graphics, with plenty of video of Rodney looking at the camera in a menacing fashion. Because hes’s good at that. Maybe as he notches more saves for us, they can add some action shots of him striking out some opposition. I loved the song that went with it as well, though as I sit here drugged up and sleep deprived, I can’t remember what it was or sounded like, just that I liked it a lot.
Rodney walked two before getting his save, but he really does have a very no-nonsense approach to pitching, and he looks scary doing it. Last night that might have been the kind of scary we as Mariners fans don’t want to see, but the end result was a win, and while it was a bit much for my heart in places, everything came out well for us in the end.
i wanted to get a shot of the on-field celebration, but it was late and I knew I probably wouldn’t get to sleep until midnight, so we left as fast as my very tired lower half and cane could carry me, and got to the car. Tom got total rock star parking, for free, in back of the new building kittycorner from the home plate entrance, so we got back home pretty fast. All in all, it was a great evening, and I would not have had it any other way.
On a personal note, I have noticed that there is something very distinctly different about how I am treated at the park by other people, depending on my mode of transportation. So far, I have been there in both a wheelchair, and using my cane but walking. In the wheelchair, I got a lot of looks from people that seemed to say “oh dear, she’s dying”. With the cane last night, and wearing my jersey, an older woman walking behind me into the restroom asked “So is that your special section that they take you back to if you’re lost?” I told her that it was the section that I first had my season tickets in, which of course is the truth. The look on her face and her half-embarrassed laughter told me that she perhaps thought that I would not have responded to her in clear, concise English. I have a lot more sympathy for people who are confined to wheelchairs or need some other sort of assistance with their mobility, and a bit of ire for anyone who would ask another human being that question, in public, with their mouths. I have the privilege of finding it amusing and being able to laugh it off as just another encounter with someone rude, but I am willing to bet that there are a lot of people who go to that ballpark that are probably pretty tired of being talked down to. So, if you’re one of the people doing the down-talking, knock that shit off, OK?
Other than that? I had a great sausage for dinner, bought a ton of Hello Kitty-dressed-as-Mariners stuff:
And I also had one of the best red whips of my life. Nothing beats fresh red licorice. So good! As we walked to the car, cries of “Let’s go, Mariners!” could be heard all over, and I got that feeling that you get as a sports fan after you’ve just had a truly magical night at the ballpark. A truly wonderful afternoon and evening.
Next stop, Washington Nationals Park!