My mom, Colleen, Tim and I were in the car driving to Safeco Field to see the Mariners take on the Yankees when Tim turned to me and proclaimed:
“Dad, the Yankees are bossy.”
Well, actually…in the three games Tim has seen the Yankees play in his life, the Yankees haven’t been very bossy. We’ve seen the Mariners beat the Yankees twice and the Orioles just a couple weeks ago beat the Yanks too. So, really, the Yankees have been pretty accomodating in the games we’ve seen them play.
We were hoping they would be similarly accomodating at this game.
We had four excellent seats in section 151 (left field). But, I also had my best buddy Paul’s two tickets in section 123 (just a couple rows back from the Mariners’ dugout). Paul was at a family get-together and was hoping to meet up with us later in the game. He never made it.
We arrived just before game time. After watching the Yankees bat in the top of the first, Tim and I grabbed an ice cream helmet (mint chocoloate chip and chocolate fudge chip) and headed over to Paul’s seats in time to watch Ichiro lead off the bottom of the first…
Tim was very protective of his ice cream:
Two more notes about that picture. First, I don’t like it when teams leave a big huge bar code on the side of the ice cream helmets. We haven’t received many bar-coded helmets. Mostly in Philadelphia. Before this week, we’d never received a bar-coded helmet at Safeco Field. And I hope we never do again.
Second, that guy in the white hat sitting behind Tim was pretty hilarious. He and this buddies were all decked out in Washington Husky gear. Just a couple hours prior, the Huskies had taken down my dad’s alma mater, the No. 3 ranked USC Trojans. (FYI, in college football, I root for my Temple Owls (GO OWLS!) and then the entire Pac-10. In conference play, I root for the UW, followed by WSU (my brother’s alma mater), followed by USC (dad), followed by whichever team is located closest to Seattle. But in the grand scheme of things, the Mariners are the only team I truly care about in any sport).
Anyway, as I was saying, that guy was pretty funny. He kept yelling at all of the Yankees (particularly C.C. Sabbathia) and saying he was going to buy them dinner at various fast food restaurants if they continued to strike out (Yankees batters) or give up hits (Sabbathia). He was going to take them to McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Time, Papa Murphy’s, Red Lobster, etc., etc.
Enough about that guy, here is the view from Paul’s amazingly awesome seats:
Paul’s family has split season tickets with another guy (Louie) who has had the tickets since 1977 (the M’s first season, and the year Paul was born). In the Kingdome, Paul’s seats were even closer (third row, I believe) but they crammed a few extra super-expensive rows in front of his seats at Safeco Field. The tickets are row 14, but I think they are only about 5-8 rows back from the dugout.
All of my action shots were coming out blurry at this game, but I got some good “batting stance” shots. Here is Jose Lopez:
And here is Adrian Beltre…
Hey, guess who stopped by our section? It was the Beer Poet:
“An evening at the ballpark, such a special treat. Nothing makes it better than a cold beer while you sit in your seat.”
His actual poems are moderately better than that, but you got the gist of it.
Young gun Doug Fister was on the mound…
In the second inning, someone or other bunted the ball off of Kenji Johjima…
During the top of the third, we headed out to CF to the play area, and I took this panaramic view as we passed behind the RF foul pole:
We got two big batches of Jim’s garlic fries…
It was about time for Tim to act silly in the seats:
That is Tim’s official “garlic is too spicy” face. As for me, I’m a huge fan of garlic. And these fries we ridiculously (in a good way) garlicy. This wasn’t garlic powder or garlic flavoring. This was full on mashed up and diced garlic bits. I think each of our orders of fries had about 5 entire garlic bulbs on ’em. When all of the fries were gone, there was still an entire hand full of diced up garlic bits in each little cardboard tray. I tried to eat all of the garlic in one of the trays, but I failed. It would have made my head explode. Too spicy.
Back to the game. As I mentioned, Fister wasn’t on top of his game. So, Don Wakamatsu pulled him before too long:
Speaking of Paul, I bet you’re wondering what he looks like, right? Well, you could look back at my entries from May when we went to a couple games together. But it would be a whole lot easier if I just posted this:
Once again, back to the game. It was a cool but pleasant night at the ball park. But late in the game, a few rain drops started to fall. The powers that be decided it was time for some indoor baseball. The following photos are very dark but they show the roof starting to creep across the field toward the 3B line:
Mark Teixeira was having good night at the plate, and the Mariners bats and pitchers weren’t doing too much. So Tim had to get creative in the seats. He decided to do some fake fishing. Here he is walking up from row 33 to row 35 holding a fake fishing pole (note that for some reason he is bare footed…he likes to feel right at home at the park):
Late in the game we ran around in the OF concourse a bit. And that is where we were when the Yankees recorded the 27th out in the bottom of the ninth. Aye, aye, aye…I was hoping Tim would never have to see the Yankees win a game in his life. Oh, well, I need to come to grips with the fact that I can’t protect him for every bad thing that might happen in life.
We have one more Mariners game this season. And with a win, the Mariners will finish the season with a winning record at games attended by me and Tim. Let’s do it M’s!!!
One more comment on the Yankees. This is the first time I’ve seen the Yankees play a game outside of Yankee Stadium since August 24, 1995. I attended that game with Paul. That game is widely recognized as the turning point in the Mariners season, after which they made a hard charge past the California Angels of Anaheim. The Mariners were 11.5 games back at the time. And in the 8th inning, the Mariners were losing 7-5. In the 8th, Edgar Martinez hit a home run off of David Cone to make it 7-6 Yankees.
But the Mariners had been perenial losers. The first two batters made quick outs in the bottom of the ninth. Paul and I started to give up on the game. In fact, we decided to leave and try to beat traffic. But as we were walking out, Vince Coleman drew a walk from John Wetteland (now Mariners bullpen coach). Paul and I started thinking about things. Junior could get another at-bat! We sprinted back to Paul’s seats (you know, the one’s I mentioned above, the ones 3 rows behind the 1B dugout). As Joey Cora, battled Wetteland, Coleman stole 2B and 3B. Cora then lined a single to LF to score Coleman and tie the game.
Up to the the plate sauntered Ken Griffey, Jr. He would see only one pitch. And we would see that pitch land in the upper deck in RF. MARINERS WIN!!!
Twenty-five days later, the Mariners had erased the Angels’ 11.5 game lead. Ultimately, the Mariners would beat the Angels in a one game playoff to claim their first ever A.L. West title.
So you ask what is the point of that long story? Well, back in 1995, we watched the Mariners beat the Yankees in Seattle free of the presence of hordes of Yankees fans. You see, the Yankees hadn’t been very good for a while. They had not made the post-season since 1981. And they didn’t have the massive traveling fan base that now accompanies them everywhere they go (and the hordes of bandwagon *fans*). At least they didn’t have them in Seattle.
It was a much more pleasant way to watch a home Mariners game. I live on the east coast and I see the Mariners on the road more than I see them at home. So, I like my Mariners home games to feel like Mariners home games. All this is to say that, this is likely my last Yankees game in Seattle.
By the way, don’t fear, the next day the Mariners would crush the Yankees to take the series 2-1. Griffey would hit a bomb.
Anyway, on our walk to the car, I took a shot of the Seahawk’s stadium, Qwest Field:
Qwest Field sits on hallowed grounds — the site of the Kingdome. I really wish Safeco Field could have been placed on the Kingdome’s site. But it couldn’t happen. The Mariners needed to play in the Kingdome until Safeco Field was ready to open in July 1999. The Seahawks on the other hand, got an upgrade, they played at Husky Stadium while Qwest Field was being built. Husky Stadium is probably better than Qwest Field.
One final note, the day after this game, we flew back into Philadelphia. As we were driving out of the Philadelphia airport, Tim again told me that the Yankees are “bossy,” and he added that they “cheat.” I told him that was not very nice of the Yankees. But then, he told me that the Yankees called him on the telephone and apologized. So, I guess that was considerate of the Yankees.
Season Fan Stats:
30 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
1 Ken Griffey, Jr. Homerun (Career Homerun No. 624, August 23, 2009 in Cleveland)
12 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, HHH Metrodome, Miller Park, U.S. Cellular, and “Jacobs” Field)
24 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Twins, Indians, Red Sox, Yankees, Royals, White Sox, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Cubs, Braves, Padres, Dodgers, Cardinals, Marlins, Pirates, Astros, and Brewers — and sort of the Giants)
25 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (5), Phillies (5), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3), Yankees (2), Twins, Cubs, Brewers, White Sox, and Indians (and 1 Brewers Cheese Fries Helmet))
28 Baseballs (16 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire, 1 Nationals, 1 Pirates, 1 Twins, 1 Astros, 1 Royals, 1 Indians, Yankees/Orioles 1)
MLB Closed Out (NL Closed out on 8/16/09, AL Closed out on 8/17/09)
5 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Ronny Cedeno, Jeremy Guthrie, Ryan Perry)
4 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Jack Zduriencik, Ryan Perry)
10 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose, Orioles Bird, Slider (Indians), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats), 4 Running Sausages (Brewers) — Honorable Mention: The Green Monster statue bench)
When I was a kid, my family would arrive at the Kingdome for a night game at 4;30, before the gates even opened. We’d try (with low to moderate success) to catch balls during BP. After the game, we’d watch the players walk to their cars. It made for a long day at the ballpark. Tim can’t hack such a long day, so he’s attended very little batting practice in his life so far. However, on May 4th, my folks agreed to bring Tim to the game at game-time and let me go early for BP. It was great fun.
I started out by parking over by the Seattle center, grabbing a bite to eat at Dick’s on Queen Ann, and walking to Safeco Field. I arrived at Safeco Field before the gates opened and decided to enter through the Center Field Gate. Waiting to get in, I took these two pictures, which show (i) the closed roof from Occidental & Royal Brougham and (ii) the play area in CF sticking out over the street and toward the train tracks:
Tim loves that play area!
Going to BP was great. I can’t wait until Tim has the endurance to do BP for weekend games. I knew the Kingdome like the back of my hand. But I moved to the east coast a month and a half before Safeco Field opened. I’d only sat in two different seating areas and I’d never had a good opportunity to just explore it. Today was the day. But first, BP.
In CF, you get your ticket scanned and enter the park before they check your backpack. My ticket taker took my ticket early and I went in to get my backpack checked. They told me I’d have to wait until a horn sounded to signify that people can enter the stadium. Everyone else was still outside of the gate, so I had a 20-30 foot head start on everyone. When the horn sounded, I ran inside to see if I could find any “easter eggs” in the RF seats. I was the first person into the stadium but others came quick. There was one ball already in the stands but it was all the way on the other end of the RF seats and some other guy got to it first. So I picked up spot and watched some BP. About 30 second later, the first HR was hit of BP and I literally had to move only 1 foot to catch it on the fly. Here is the ball:
This is a camera phone picture I sent to my wife. Its taken exactly where I caught the ball. The ball was hit by a right handed Mariner in the final cycle of Mariners BP. M’s BP was finished a few minutes later. After catching the ball and taking this picture, I turned around to see this:
He was fixing the seat. I then went around to the 3B line because the Rangers had taken the field and were playing catch by their dugout and in LF.
In the top left, Omar Visquel is playing catch in front of the visitors dugout. I’m hoping little O makes the Hall of Fame. The guy is a stud at SS. In the bottom left, the pitchers are playing catch. To the right, the pitchers are doing some running. Frank “Throw Me a Chair” Francisco (isn’t he the chair thrower?) kept telling “Every day” Eddie Guardado to say “go” to start the pitcher race and a couple other pitchers kept starting when Eddie said “ready, set” and it seemed to upset Francisco much to the delight of all of the other pitchers. In the top right, you can see the head start one of the pitchers took.
As I stood there, I realized that the CF seats are totally separated from the RF seats and the competition for BP HR balls would be really low. So I headed out there. I didn’t catch any more HRs on a fly, but I got one more ball as a 20-something kid over ran a ball, tipped it backwards and it rolled toward me as I scurried over to the deep-center side of the CF seats (in aisle 3). Here is a picture of both of my balls and where I got them:
In the bottom right, the ball stamped “practice” is the Rangers BP HR ball. The top right picture shows where I snagged it off the ground — all the way down the aisle on the other side of the step. The guy standing behind the pointing girl is the kid who got a glove on it but couldn’t make the play. After I got it, he came and gave me a high five and was disappointed in himself for over running it. The top left shows the view to the plate from where I caught the Mariners BP HR. The bottom left shows the stupid railings in the middle of the aisle. Trying to move down to the bottom row for a ball that didn”t make it into the stands, my left foot got jammed into the space between the railing and the next step and I almost broke my wrist bracing for the fall.
While watching BP, I was entertained by a attendant giving balls to little kids:
See the space between the outfield wall and the stands? Tons of balls landed down there. Each time, another attendant went between the walls and grabbed the ball and then gave it to the guy in the pictures above. Each time he got a ball, he stood around looking for just the right kid. Once he found him or her, he tossed the ball to the kid. And without fail, the kid did not say thank you. Each time, the attendant said, “Yo!? What do you say?” Without fail, NO ONE said thank you until he had “Yo’d” them at least 2-3 times. Ah, kids!
Next, it was time to explore. I went all around the field and took tons of pictures for panoramic views. Here is the view from Section 190, Row 12, Seats 11-12 (our alleged seats for this game):
Here is the view from the last seat in the back row of the deepest-center part of the CF upper deck seats:
Here is the view looking straight down from the upper deck down to section 108 in RF (where we sat the previous day):
Pretty scary! Here is the view from the 300 level behind the RF foul pole:
Then I turned around and took some banner shots:
Next, RF foul territory:
Next, I took a picture in the concourse and one back in the stadium:
To the left, its the ad for the “Mojo Meal” – a major dog, chips and a soft drink for $5.00 (1/2 price). Its a special for family 1/2 price days. To the top right, is a picture as I approached the stadium. Its shows Qwest Field in the foreground and Safeco Field in the background. Below it is a picture looking through Safeco Field toward Qwest Field.
Next, I headed to the last row of the upper deck straight behind home plate:
Then another on the 3B side:
Then, I went to the last seat in the last row of the upper deck in LF foul territory:
When I was up there, I noticed that Felix was warming up in the M’s bullpen. So I headed down to the bullpen standing room area:
I also found the Moose and got a picture with him:
Finally, it was about time for the game to start. Tim and my folks showed up and met me by the little boy fountain that Tim loves so much:
Tim and I had tickets in the CF bleachers (cheap!!), but there was hardly anyone at the game. So we ended up sitting with my folks and their friends Lynn and Steve in Section 118. Here was our view:
During the game, we had the Mojo Meal and the world’s largest ice cream helmet — chocolate fudge brownie and strawberry cheese cake:
On the way to get the ice cream, I took a photo of some license plate art on the wall of the concourse behind 1B:
And the Safeco Field Code of Conduct:
Then I took some action shots of Yuni Betancourt popping out and Franklin Gutierrez taking a pitch (the ball is circled in red in both pictures):
Finally, since I was using this game to really get to know Safeco Field, I figured I’d try for a picture of a Safeco Field fixture. In the picture to the left below, you can see a guy holding a big piece of cardboard. That is “Beltre Guy” as I call him, he probably has an actual name, but I don’t know it. He stands up every time Beltre comes to the plate with a huge cardboard cut out of Beltre’s head. Once I attended a game with Paul where Beltre Guy had a 3 foot tall Beltre bobblehead sitting in the seat next to him. Beltre ended up giving Beltre Guy his bat during that game. Anyway, Tim and I approached him during the 7th inning stretch. As he stood with his arm around Mrs. Beltre Guy, I tapped him on the shoulder and asked, “Hey, Beltre Guy. We live in Pennsylvania and see you on TV all the time. Could we get our picture with you?”
I think we might have been the first people to ever ask him this. His face was priceless. He looked stunned and super-excited. Anyway, as you can see to the right below, Beltre Guy delivers big time in this photograph:
As for the game. It was another good one, but another 1-run Mariners loss. Felix wasn’t as effective as normal, but he wasn’t terrible. After falling behind 4-0, we tied it up. But a two run homer put the bad guys up 6-4. The M’s tried their best, but ended up falling just a bit short when Ichiro popped out with the tying run on base to end the game in the bottom of the ninth.
One other important note, with this game Tim has now seen every team in the AL West live. It is the most important division in baseball (clearly!) and it is Tim’s first to see every team.
Once again, no Ken Griffey, Jr. in the line-up. 😦 He was ill for a couple days.
Season Fan Stats:
4 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, and Citi Field)
9 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, and Padres)
6 Ice Cream Helmet (Mariners (4), Phillies and Mets)
3 Baseballs (2 Mariners, 1 Rangers)
2 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose and The Bird (O’s))