Since it looks like the Mariners were destined to win but one game this weekend, I’m glad it was the one I attended and not the two I missed because I was drinking and hungover respectively.
I got off work at 3:30pm last Friday and drove straight to the stadium. Found some free street parking on 1st Ave and walked past the stadium. At 4pm, the line for the Home Plate Entrance was already nearing the bagel shop at the other end of Safeco. I decided to go grab a hot dog from a vendor and make my way slowly back to the line. In that half hour, the line doubled in size. Fortunately, they let us in 20 minutes early. More fortunately, I’ve got myself a bobblehead doll.
I’m not one of those fanatics about the bobblehead doll; I don’t go to every game they give one away (indeed, I only have 4, and they’ve been doing these things for seemingly forever), but they usually give me a little added incentive to go to a game because they always fall on a Friday. I can take my car, leave work, catch the game, and still make it home at a reasonable hour (for a night owl, anyway). This game, however, had the icing on the cake (because, really, cake without icing is pretty damned disgusting) because Felix was scheduled to go.
And, not for nothin’, but after the White Sox were just no hit by Francisco Liriano days earlier, how could you not at least have it in the back of your mind that something special might happen?
So, I got my bobblehead, I got my scorecard, and I took my seat in the right field seats. 4 rows from the field. Batting practice was still going on at the time, and within ten minutes some left-handed batter for the Mariners (maybe Saunders?) yanked a ball that was caught half a foot from my outstretched right hand by another fan. That’s as close as I’ve ever come to getting a ball … denied again.
Sitting next to me was another guy riding solo; he was quiet and kept to himself all through pre-game, so that made me happy. Nothing I dislike more than making baseball small-talk with strangers. Of course, as soon as the game started he was the Chattiest fucking Cathy on the planet, but I used all the powers of my being to ignore him when he turned my way. What can I say? I like to go to baseball games and quietly watch the game while I keep score!
The game itself was a hoot. Felix rolled through the first nine batters in succession, but his no-hit bid was thwarted in the top of the fourth. My biggest dream is to one day be at a Mariners game, keeping score, while one of our pitchers throws a no-hitter or a perfect game. I’ve been to some memorable ones (the biggest comeback of all time against the California Angels in the Kingdome, the 1997 AL West-clinching win, Ken Cloude’s first Major League start), but never a no-no. The closest I’ve ever come was seeing Derek Lowe throw 8 hitless innings for the Rainiers before having it ruined in the 9th.
Nevertheless, Felix was pretty damned masterful (Carlos Quentin’s homer aside, which was actually really fucking annoying since it tied the game after we’d just taken the lead). 9 innings, 2 runs, 5 hits, 6 strikeouts. And, most importantly, the win, thanks to a rally in the bottom of the 9th kicked off by Jack Cust and culminated by Brendan Ryan of all people with a walk-off single. What a way to go out for a fan!
Some other observations:
I didn’t see the strike call on Milton Bradley that led to his ejection, as I was too busy pumping my fist over Figgins stealing third (not that you have a real good vantage from the right field seats), but I could’ve sworn out of the corner of my eye that that pitch was a high ball. I’ve since heard otherwise by the guys on the radio after the game, but I dunno. Seems like the ump is going to call most pitches a strike when a runner is in the process of stealing a bag. Why doesn’t this ever get mentioned? I’ve seen some pretty hilariously bad strike calls in this situation and it’s always frustrating. You’re an umpire! You’re paid to pay attention to the little details of the game like balls and strikes! Stop being distracted like an excited puppy whenever anyone swipes a bag!
I don’t remember ever paying attention to Jack Cust’s intro music as he’s walking to the plate until Friday night. Did you know he’s a Jay-Z fan? It’s absolutely ABSURD! “Please allow me to reintroduce myself / My name is HOV, H to the OV!” Coming in a close second in this department is Michael Saunders and his Kanye West intro music: “No one man should have all that power …” Well, fortunately for Mr. Saunders, he DOESN’T have all that power, at all.
For some reason, I still love attending baseball games in person, but I almost always hate sitting with other people because they’re so annoying. Friends are one thing; I’m all about going to a game and having a good time. But, everyone else just makes me want to pull my beard out. They’re always talking about dumb shit irrelevant to the game going on in front of them, trying to start the wave, getting up every fucking five minutes to go get food or go to the bathroom or just go walk around. Why do they even have a 7th Inning Stretch anymore? You stand up 20 times a game to let people out of your row as it is! I need to remember two things the next time I decide to go to a game by myself: get a seat at the end of the row so I only have to sit next to a single idiot instead of two of them, and even more importantly, ask the ticket seller in the Mariners Team Store if I can be put in a section of the stadium with the fewest number of people. Even if it’s in the 300-level! I see all these huge patches of empty green seats with but a handful of people; I want to be THERE!
$8.25 for a bottle of domestic beer. I’ll never understand people who buy these concessions at a ballgame. Can you REALLY not go three hours while watching a baseball game without drinking a beer? Is it REALLY worth $8.25?
And, for that matter (not that it applies to me since I buy them pre-game outside the stadium), whatever happened to the hot dog vendor who walks up and down the aisles at the stadium? Now it’s only beer, lemonade, cotton candy, and chocolate-covered strawberries on a stick. Even with peanuts, I think there’s only one guy for the whole stadium; he never returned after the first time I saw him.
As for the other two games this weekend, they looked pretty bad. Especially Saturday, being shutout 6-0. Didn’t look like Smoak had a very good weekend at all, with his batting average dropping about 20 points. The Mariners finished their homestand 3-3 after a very promising start. Here’s to the road, where the Mariners are actually capable of scoring runs from time to time!