I know I’m not the first person to think of this, but there were a couple of moments that stood out to me in yesterday’s Home Opener at Safeco Field. The first was in the bottom of the fourth, when the heart of the order loaded the bases with nobody out, the game still scoreless. Valencia and Martin proceeded to strike out, and Zunino flew out to end the inning with no runners scoring. I was a little distracted at the time, because this woman in our section was being loud and generally annoying almost everyone else around her (to my perverse delight), but suddenly I heard the fans start to boo, and I perked up even further. YES! BOO! That’s what you do when you see something you don’t like, you boo the shit out of it! And Mariners, we don’t particularly like you right now, so we’re going to boo YOU!
Seattle fans in general, and Mariners fans in particular, don’t get a whole lot of credit for being all that savvy or even interested in what’s going on down on the field (and, believe me, I’m harping on the fans more than anyone to get their shit together). But, to see the home fans boo the hometown team on Opening Day was a real eye-opener. Granted, this isn’t the first time we’ve booed the Mariners before, but usually it takes more sustained ineptitude before they draw that type of ire from us. CERTAINLY, we would never boo our team on Opening Day!
And yet, here we were, on the heels of a 1-6 road trip to kick off the season, where the offense struggled to do much of anything in all but one of those games, giving it to this hapless bunch on Day 1. We expect better from you, Mariners, and if you don’t start delivering, you’re damn well going to hear it from us!
I’ll admit, I’ve never been prouder of a group of fans. Yesterday was a banner day.
The other moment that stood out was in the very next inning, the bottom of the fifth. Still scoreless, this time the Mariners loaded the bases with one out. Nelson Cruz walked to the plate. I want to say it happened in the middle of the at-bat, after a couple/few pitches had been thrown: spontaneous cheering. CHEERING! Cheering BEFORE something good had happened! We were one inning removed from collective booing to show our displeasure, but instead of sitting on our hands, waiting for the guys to earn our praise (or waiting for the next opportunity to boo the shit out of them once again), we – as fans – decided to be proactive, and help our fellow baseball superstar.
I tell you, I’ve NEVER seen anything like that from a Mariners crowd. The only time I’ve ever seen us start to cheer is when something good happens, or when the jumbotron tells us to. The closest I’ve ever seen is with the King’s Court, and the chanting whenever Felix gets to two strikes on a batter, but I don’t remember if that started out spontaneously among the fans in that section, or if it was something the organization started and thrust upon us.
Either way, here we were, cheering on Nelson Cruz as he stood at the plate. We were one with the baseball player right there, and we knew he needed a little boost from the fans to get things going on offense. And by gar, it WORKED! Cruz hit a 2-run single up the middle, and Seager followed with a sac fly to make it 3-0 after five innings.
And at that point, I’d REALLY never been prouder of a group of fans. It’s like we’re turning a corner or something!
Yesterday was a ton of fun. But, it didn’t start out that way. I took off work at 11am and went to the Mariners Team Store in Downtown Seattle to buy a new hat. Every year, I buy a new ballcap to add to my collection. Last year, I got the St. Patrick’s Day hat, and it brought us no luck. This year, I got the Seattle Turks throwback hat (some interesting reading on the early Seattle baseball scene HERE and HERE).
As soon as I walked out with my new purchase, it started to rain. It continued to rain as I approached Sluggers, around 11:30am, and it was still raining when we walked out of Sluggers moments later, due to the fact that it was packed beyond belief. We settled on The Lodge Sports Grille, which turned out to be pretty damn good. Lots of beer on tap, excellent spicy popcorn shrimp, and the best part: they actually had room for the three of us to sit and watch the various TVs on the walls.
We approached Safeco Field as soon as the introductions were starting. If you thought the fireworks were loud in the stadium, you should stand outside of the left field entrance; they were absolutely deafening! The lines getting into the stadium were untenable, so we piled into Jimmy’s On First to grab a couple more beers and wait out the nonsense. Once it looked like it wouldn’t take an hour to get inside the stadium, we walked on over. By then, thankfully, the rain mostly stopped.
We missed the intros. We watched the first pitches (four guys throwing to four other guys) from Jimmy’s, as well as the first inning or two. James Paxton looked REAL dominant, in going 7 innings of shutout ball, striking out 8. Altavilla and Scribner locked down the 8th & 9th innings as we all made 6-run lead jokes after the blown save the day before.
Offensively, we came to play. Mitch Haniger had a couple hits and an RBI, Cruz went 3 for 4 with 2 RBI, Seager had 2 hits and an RBI, Cano had a hit & 2 walks, and the bottom three in the order each had a hit apiece. So, yeah, maybe it WAS all about the home cookin’.
The one downer was the hamstring injury to Jean Segura. Here’s to hoping that won’t keep him out too long, or be detrimental to his performance going forward. Get well soon, but also get FULLY well!