Yesterday was a good day. I mean, a really really good day.
It started with me getting a ton of sleep, which is rare. I had a cup of coffee at home, got ready, ran some errands, then took the car home, packed my bag with the stuff I would need for a day out, and headed to RealFine to grab a cold brew espresso, because it was pretty warm out in the direct sunlight. I had a small collapsible umbrella for shade, but I wear a lot of black so it was still a little warm. All coffee’d up, I hit the bus stop and grabbed the 50 down to SoDo, where I walked to Henry’s near Safeco and had a nice leisurely lunch. The grilled chicken Caesar there is great, in case you were wondering.
Daniel met me there, polished off a watermelon sour, and then we headed for the right field gates for…Season Ticket Holder PHOTO DAY! I have never done this before, as I didn’t think much of it, and am not an autograph hound or a fan who needs to meet players; I’m just interested in the game. Plus, in a long line of people, how much can the players actually get done? It just seemed to be kind of a pointless endeavor, generally speaking.
Until I actually did it, and now I’m sold.
Daniel and I got through the RF gates, got our Nelson Cruz Funko Pop!s (mine is the white uniform, which is great because it matches my white uniform Felix one from last year), and headed down a ramp to go to the field level, assisted along the way by staff. If you have ever done the Refuse to Abuse 5K, it was that same tunnel you get to just before you get out of the center field wall, which was how we got on the field. We were given overall instructions on where might be the best place to stand, and found an open spot along the roped-off grass on the warning track, then discovered that our friends (Maple Grove members, all) were over towards right field, so we wandered over there instead. Hugs and greetings were had, and we all stood around chatting with each other and people around us while waiting for the players to come out.
When it was time, some of the old school players were introduced; Bill Kreuger, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Erik Hanson, Julio Cruz, and Mike Blowers were on hand, and went out to various parts of the field to make their rounds. Then the current players came out of the clubhouse with handlers to make sure they were being as timely as possible. And when I say current players, I mean everyone. Even Ichiro was out there, though I will just say right now that there was no way he, Felix, or James Paxton were ever going to make it around the entire field (and they didn’t).
Look ma! I’m on the field! Again.
We waited until people came around, and made executive decisions on whether to do singular selfies with each player or group shots as so to try to help them make best use of their time. Because of the sun, some photos didn’t come out so great, and because we were using our phones (to further avoid taking up too much time as people figured out how to use a random camera), or giving them to the handlers to try and get photos facing into the sun, a lot of these didn’t come out as well as I personally would have liked. But it was stupid amounts of fun. So here are some pictures I got…
Tiffany, myself, and the top of Daniel’s head with Ryon Healy, who was super sweet and took a few seconds more with us than he probably needed to.
Nelson Cruuuuuuuuuuz! Daniel, Tiffany, me, Su, Rachel, Allie, and some dude in back of us who actually photobombed another picture that was taken later. Cruz left quite an impression on Daniel, who said he had a gentle handshake (Daniel’s goal there was to shake everyone’s hand).
Jean Segura! Daniel’s mom Mitzi is next to him, then the rest of us. Please excuse the handler’s thumb.
James Pazos and the Unholy Lens Flare.
Miiiiike Zunino! I have been pulling for this guy since he was drafted and I’m so happy he’s finally come into his own lately. Also super friendly.
Ben Gamel. He was really sweet, stood around chatting for a while longer than he needed to.
First base coach Chris Prieto.
Technically speaking, you could get a photo with Ryan Rowland-Smith just about any time he’s at the ROOT Sports desk, so long as you ask nicely, I’d imagine. But this was too good an opportunity to pass up, and he’s such a nice guy. I’d say all our little faces demonstrate how excited we were to be there. The next two are my favorite; Kyle Seager and Edwin Diaz. How insanely cool is this?
It’s not every day you get to say hi to the closer, and it’s been a while since we’ve had a closer I’ve really loved. Seager verified that the players can hear our chants and songs when we gather as the Maple Grove for James Paxton starts, and the “Corey’s brother” thing is still cool, but told us that if we do one chant and he doesn’t get a hit, we need to switch it up. Superstition is definitely a thing in baseball.
Manager Scott Servais. I have really liked him since he’s been here. He has the demeanor of Don Wakamatsu, who has been my favorite manager since I’ve been a fan. Sorry, Allie, I know your eyes are closed but this is the only picture the handler took on my phone. Hopefully you have a better one!
Me and Mitzi and Erasmo Ramirez, who said he’s been feeling better lately and should be ready to go soon. We also met several other players and staff, but didn’t get pictures with everyone. In retrospect, I should have taken a picture with Erik Hanson, but I try to be cognizant of people’s personal space and if they didn’t seem like they wanted their photo taken, or were walking farther from the rope than other players, I didn’t ask. One thing I was struck by, however, is how small a lot of players actually are. When I used to hang out down in the Pen taking pictures of JJ, Vargas, and Morrow, they were all pretty large guys. Kyle Seager is just a regular-sized person, and it was nice to get that kind of perspective. It makes them more human, not just some people I watch on TV all summer. Nelson Cruz, however, is a massive human being; the “Boom Stick” thing is not just a cute nickname.
We were maybe 20 yards or so from James Paxton and even less from Mitch Haniger, but it was time for the event to end so they could get everyone off the field and prep the field for the game. We were filed out back into the CF tunnel and into The Pen, which was perfect because by that time, I desperately needed some water. Daniel and I headed to Edgar’s, but were stopped short due to a medical emergency inside. John, the door guy down there who is super nice and doesn’t card me or Daniel anymore, was kind enough to get me some water, though, which was so very appreciated after standing in the sun for so long. After a few minutes, they let us into the top part near the bar, and I was able to fill my water bottle up more and Daniel was able to grab a margarita, and Su met us inside, then we decided it was best to leave again because of space and the crowds.
We met more friends down in The Pen (and new friend Terris, who talked to Daniel about hockey for a while and seems like a good chap, all around), and stood around and talked until about 6.30, when we decided to go up and see if a row in the LF bleachers was available for all of us to sit in. Turns out there was, so we sat there and cheered the game on, talked about stats, heckled fans talking about their freaking fantasy teams (guys, nobody gives a damn, I promise) had snacks, and enjoyed the win. The Win!
So you know what – I know that it’s one win, and I know that it is statistical first place/tie with the Astros for first in the AL West. But in all the time I’ve been a Mariners fan, I have never seen the staff change the flags in the outfield, nor have I seen the flags in first place in JUNE.
For most of the time I’ve been a fan, pre-Astros-in-the-AL, it was always Texas and Angels flags up front, with us and the A’s duking it out for last place. This is a nice change.
No, your eyes aren’t bad, this photo is kind of blurry. Clockwise; Tommy, Kate, Daniel, Hillary, Joe, Matt, Rachel, Tiffany, me, and Su. These are also some of the main Maple Grove people, so follow up on Twitter if you haven’t already. They’re some of the best baseball friends I could ask for. My only regret was that everyone we know could not have also been here for this, it was a ton of fun.
After we got everything collected and were able to exit the field, some of us decided to go home, while the rest of us decided to go to Flatstick Pub for celebratory drinks. I am taking a dry June, but one glass of champagne won’t kill me, and this was a very special occasion, so I opted for the one glass, and we watched people around us play games while we unwound from all the excitement.
Oh, and also this happened…
So yeah, I get it; it’s like a fraction of a percentage that we are ahead of the Houston Astros right now, and sure, it can change today, or tomorrow, or a week from now. But yesterday was a damn fine day, I’m glad I was alive for it, and I’m not going to allow anyone to tell me I shouldn’t be, simply because there is a difference of 0.03 between us and a team that has been a thorn in our sides since they first showed up in the AL. June 2nd, 2018 was one of the best baseball days I’ve had in my life, and I’m going to remember it until I die or until I can’t remember stuff anymore.
The Mariners are playing their last game in this series against the Tampa Bay Rays and are going into the bottom of the 7th with a one run lead. It’s June, the team is riddled with injuries, and we’re doing pretty well. It’s good to be a Mariners fan.