Saturday, July 19, 2008

Beisbol Been Good to Me

It occurs to me that I've gone to more games at Safeco Field than at the mythological Forbes Field (a hazy memory of childhood) or at Three Rivers Stadium (a multi-use facility that made baseball a radio sport for me). But one of our folk at the company had four tickets to last night's Mariner's game he could not use and gave them to co-worker Steve, who took his wife Reyna and invited me and Albert along.

And it was a lot of fun. The Mariners, after glorious pre-season hopes, have dived to the bottom of their division, They were playing the Cleveland Indians, who after a promising start are in similar straits. Yet the stadium has a healthy multitude for this first game after the All-Star-Break, filled with group packages and hardcore fans and people taking advantage of a cloudless, warm Seattle evening.

The seats are along the first base line, about 20 feet past first, 27 rows back. Great location for watching the batters. There's a family of four in front of us, and behind us a pair of married couples. The guy behind me I mentally label "The Vet" since he speaks at length before the game about action his unit had seen in Europe in WWII. He was born in Cleveland, and has his hopes. Steven and Reyna both flip out their Nintendo DS's and hook up with the wifi in the stadium for stats and promotions. Later on, they order food through their game machines. Me, I'll wait for the headsup display mounted in my glasses. I hoof it and get a massive pile of garlic fries and a beer that costs almost as much.

The game was one of those good ones - the Mariners caught fire and won, 8-2. Four of those runs came off a grand slam bases-loaded homer by Raul Ibanez, a thing of beauty that sailed over the back fence without even a hope of being caught. The entire crowd rose as it powered out of the park, and I will admit to shouting "Kiss it goodbye!" (Pittsburgh reference)as it departed this world for that of baseball statistics and day-after reporting.

It was Felix Hernandez bobble-head night, but given the current status of the teams, it was also fan-foul-ball-accumulation night, as the seats along both baselines were shelled throughout the proceedings. Reyna at the far end of our group was next to a cluster of empty seats and almost got nailed as a foul pinballed around the ghosts. Another foul came to me, but too high and too steep. I couldn't get it, but turned to see where it went.

And there was the Vet, his hands closed together. And he opened them, to reveal the ball, nested like a bird's egg in his palms. He gave the ball to a wide-eyed kid in his row, and the rest of the section congratulated him both on the catch and his generosity. And we did the wave and argued about the origin of the wave (Reyna checked wikipedia, but I disagree with their conclusions). The Vet grumbled about how back the Indians were stinking up the joint. His wife hugged him. The crowd was in that fine mood that only a six-run lead We ate garlic fries and cheered ourselves hoarse, watched the roof slide shut after the game, and got caught in a massive traffic jam getting out of the lot (Safeco is a great field, but those same trains that you hear blaring past the stadium also block all traffic when the game lets out).

All in all, a great evening. Baseball was very, very good to us.

More later,