A Tale of Two Very Different Games

Sitting around this morning watching the Mariners play the Blue Jays. The roof on Rogers Centre is open for the sun – I always think Safeco’s roof is amazing until I see the weird clamshell thing on Rogers Centre – and the Mariners are, as of right now, in the lead of a one-run game in the top of the 6th inning. Willie Bloomquist hit an RBI double, so this game has been kind of bizarre. But good for Willie; old ball players can and do have a bit of spark left in them sometimes.

Last weekend was a busy one. On top of going to Tom’s DJ night at the Mercury, I had two baseball games to go to; Saturday’s Turn Back the Clock Salute to the Negro Leagues, and my annual Red Sox game with my friend Eric on Sunday. They were tremendously different games in just about every way.

Saturday, Su and I went to the park and I was just about starving. We met down at The Pen, and I made a beeline to the pizza and salad place down there. Word to the wise, their Caesar salads are actually really good, and freshly made when you order them. They have also got both with chicken and without for the same price of $6, which is a damn good deal for stadium food. Also, it was hot and I was complain-y, so a nice cool salad seemed like an excellent idea.

Neither of us had any use for beer that day, so we wandered up to the main concourse where it was a bit more quiet and far more open, and secured a bit of a spot above The Pen to drink soda and watch the Red Sox take BP for a bit while Felix came out to warm up with Jesus Sucre. The Mariners were of course wearing the (somewhat updated, I’d think) uniforms of the Negro League team the Steelheads. The Steelheads were here for one year, 1946, and played at Sick’s Stadium. The Red Sox were wearing the uniforms of the Royal Giants.

IMG_6494The Boston pitching staff walking towards their bullpen over left field.

IMG_6495Felix walking to the Pen in left center. As he approached, the hundreds of people who were in the Pen and over the center field wall cheered him. He waved at the crowd a bit and it sent them into near hysterics. It made me realize how much like an Elvis Presley or The Beatles he is here; all he has to do is acknowledge that fans are there, and they completely lose it.

IMG_6497Jesus Sucre, getting loose in the grass. You can see the pants stripe (which I loved, but a lot of others weren’t fond of) and his black gear just looked really slick over the white, which was an off-white and didn’t mess with my white balance at all; I think all current whites should be switched to this. It would stop baseball players from looking like ghosts, for those of us who don’t have professional cameras.

IMG_6498IMG_6499

The bullpen, with Tom Wilhelmsen doing some sort of dance. It looked like he was singing to them for a bit; there was a lot of gesturing and vaguely choreographed walking on the parts of the others. The bullpen is still weird. I will be trying to get some more pictures of this in the future this year.IMG_6502Dustin Ackley, ready for action in center field. And he did make some amazing plays out there that night, making a tremendous sliding catch out against the wall to save a base. He even got a hit that night, a rare occurence for Ackley, a player whose time a lot of fans and journalists alike seem to feel should come to an end here in Seattle.

IMG_6505Felix gets ready to pounce!

IMG_6506The screen last Saturday was done up in old school chalk style…

IMG_6510The hat  trick was black and white fedoras. My camera’s shutter is not as fast as the refresh rate on the big screen. The price you pay for updated technology.

IMG_6511The boat races, though? Done old school, like they did the other year while playing the Cubbies and saluting 1909.

The game, of course, was not great for the Mariners. We lost and we lost badly. It didn’t help that there was an Ms fan in our row who had been drinking a ton before he and his girlfriend got there, and didn’t stop all night long. They had to be talked to by ushers three times, and still continued being obnoxious, trying to pick fights with the Sox fans around us, and accusing David Ortiz of being a “cheater” while apparently forgetting that we have Nelson Cruz on our team. They were asked to leave eventually after multiple complaints (not from me, I wantd to see what he was going to get himself into), and they came back around the top of the 8th with fresh beer and behaved themselves for the remainder of the game. But the whole thing was a wash, and we failed to best the Royal Giant Sox.

Sunday, however, was a different story!

I met Eric at Hooverville where we had some ciders, and then went to the home plate entrance to get in and try to make our seats by first pitch. The weather had started out overcast, so I honestly thought we’d get rained on; but alas. The sun came out. I don’t wear baseball hats and I don’t own any hats with brims (I should really change that), so I ate my Thai food in tortured silence until about the third inning, when I just couldn’t take it anymore. A friend of mine works downstairs and has offered numerous times to let me sit downstairs – near the back, of course, so we’re not bothering anyone who has actual tickets – and I have never taken him up on it yet this year. I just can’t be out in the sun. Even with sunscreen, it is difficult. I burn like crazy with or without sunscreen (my life on the water in recent years has more than proven this to me), and even with my protective sunglasses, my eyes hurt for the rest of the day if I spend any longer than a few minutes here and there in direct sunlight. I considered Sunday an emergency, so I used my favor and we went to the lower deck, sitting in some unused ADA seats for the remainder of the game.

And what a game!

James Paxton did very well for himself, pitching 8 full innings and only allowing 5 hits.  Carson Smith didn’t give anyone any hits in the 9th, which is about what he’s doing to the Blue Jays right now as I am trying to wrap up this post. The Mariners position players owned Sox pitcher Steven Wright, and getting one hit from each of Wright’s three relievers as well. We won the series. Every year, Eric goes out to smoke at some point in the game. When this happens, every year the Mariners have hit a home run. I wish I were making this up, but it is 100% true. Eric’s team has beat us before during these games he and I go to, but always the smoking, always the home run.

IMG_6513IMG_6515I am starting to really like James Paxton. I wasn’t quite sure at the beginning of the year, but his 2-2 record doesn’t really give a good indication of how well he can pitch. If this continues, I’d like to see them lock him down sooner rather than later. We need a guy. Felix is the love of our lives, I know, but he can’t shoulder the responsibility every 5 or 6 days to make a positive impact for this team.

IMG_6516The Moose, doing what he does. The Moose is possibly one of the most accessible mascots in baseball. The Philly Phanatic has the best on-field presence that I have seen in my small baseball travels. I hope to be able to make better judgements about this in  future years.

IMG_6518Mike Zunino in action. He’s still my guy for the year. As I am typing this, he is currently on first base at Rogers Centre after a nicely planted left field single.

IMG_6520Shane Victorino heads to first base. Victorino is still one of my favorite players, ever since I first saw him with the Phillies. His defense is still amazing, something he proved on Friday’s game, actually, with an amazing run and sliding catch. I just love him.

IMG_6526IMG_6527IMG_6530Carson Smith, coming in for the kill in the 9th. We shut out the Red Sox, 5-0.

IMG_6532IMG_6533Everybody’s hugging!

As I am finishing up this post, a one-run game is taking place in Toronto, and Fernando Rodney is on the hill against Blue Jays Russell Martin, who grounded out to first. Danny Valencia was next, and Rodney got him out swinging, but not before some Jays fan threw something on the field, bolstering my low opinion of Jays fans. Look, I know you’re not all like that, but I have yet to run into the good ones, so my view is a bit tainted. Chris Colabello was Rodney’s next victim, and struck out swinging again. Rodney let the arrow fly, as he is wont to do, and it was well-deserved; that was an amazingly tight inning for him, and not scary at all.

Tomorrow is another early game, and the second day of a three day weekend, something I haven’t gotten a lot of in recent years. I love early games because I can still get in some baseball and still have my day left to do whatever I want. Whatever I want tomorrow consists of having a handful of people over and watching some bad movies, making some food, and having a few drinks, just a chill afternoon. Maybe I’ll mow the lawn, I don’t know. But I will watch baseball. Happy weekend to everyone, and please have a safe, good, and respectful Memorial Day.

 

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