erik lundegaard

The Lonely Road to Safeco Field

My friend Tim invited me to the Mariners game Saturday at 4:00, Fan Appreciation Night, or Day, or Fan Appreciation Overcast Late Afternoon, and I went more for Tim than the M's. I'm higher on the team than I've been in years, since they're doing what I urged them to do in 2004--get young--but it's a long season, and manager Eric Wedge is still trotting out the likes of Adam Kennedy (.234/.276/.354), who is 35 and has no upside, rather than some September call-up who does. But it's still fun to sit at the park, see the action, talk baseball.

I was hoping for sun but that was the previous weekend. The walk down provided its own form of gloom, too. Elliott Bay Books relocated more than a year ago, closer to where I live, but its former locatioin is still unoccupied:

the former Elliott Bay Bookstore location in Pioneer Square, Seattle

The former Elliott Bay Books: a half-hour before gametime.

I found Occidental Avenue, the road to Safeco, also surprisingly unoccupied, even though it was 25 minutes before gametime.

Occidental Avenue in downtown Seattle

Occidental Avenue: Many of the few fans there were Sounders fans, too, whose game started two hours after the M's game.

Even the left field gate on Royal Brougham, usually bustling, is far from it 15 minutes before gametime.

The Left Field Gate at Safeco Field, Seattle

Russ Davis glove on the right; the faithful few on the left.

The game was an oddity: high-scoring, lots of pitching changes, yet surprisingly fast. Clutch hitting put the M's up 4-1 in the 2nd, but in the top of the 3rd M's starter Anthony Vasquez gave up three homers on four pitches, all blistered, and punctuated by former Mariner Adrian Beltre who practically dented the upper-deck facade in left field with his blast. The ball was just rocketing off Rangers' bats and squibbling off ours, which may explain why, down just one run in the 5th, 7-6, the game felt lost. Which it ultimately was.

Tim and I didn't win, either. Fan Appreciation Night is also giveaway night—autographed jerseys and balls, suites and seats, flat-screen TVs and planetrips, and “much much more” as they say—and Tim and I got bupkis, as per normal. The year before, sitting in the seat I now occupied, Tim's friend Bill won a suite for a game, which we all attended last April, so Tim figured our seats were shot for another few years, if in fact the giveaway is that logical. But a woman three rows in front of us won a luxury cruise for two, which was pretty cool, and Tim and I had fun riffing on some of the giveaways. Working with the Mariners groundscrew? Sounds more like unpaid labor. What next? “A chance to scrub Mariner urinals!” We imagined the winner of that imaginary giveaway being approached by the winner of a real giveaway, an autographed Chone Figgins baseball: “Wanna trade?”

7-6 was the final, putting me at 6-5 on the year. Hoping for better next year. Until then, God bless, Mr. B, wherever you are.

Mr. B at the left field gate at Safeco Field

Long-suffering Mariners fan, Mr. B, center, takes tickets at the left field gate.

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Posted at 08:51 AM on Mon. Sep 19, 2011 in category Seattle Mariners  


Bob Lundegaard wrote:

You made me laugh out loud, little manser. I musta scared Mel, per your poem.

I was at Target Field for OUR Fan Appreciation night last Friday, by mistake, it turned out. (Some Tour Guides had been recruited to help out with a fan survey, but after wandering around the stadium for a half-hour, I ran into a Twins exec who informed me the survey had been canceled. Thanx. I had parked in the Vikings lot and walked 15 blocks, because my usual Twins parking isn't good on game days).

I could have stayed for the game, which was still two hours away, but in a rare move, for me, I decided not to. I don't know whether you've looked at their lineup lately, but Sunday a week ago the only batter hitting over .238 was Joe Mauer, who's now shut down for the rest of the season by pneumonia. EVERYONE ELSE of the nine starters was either a midseason callup or a utility player.

Euphemistically you could call it a rebuilding season, but that's being too kind. This is a franchise in deep trouble, with most of their minor league teams floundering. As someone posted on the Internet the other day, they should charge triple-A prices to watch triple-A players.

(How does Tampa Bay do it? They got rid of their four highest-paid players in the off season, yet they're still competitive. They've set a record for most consecutive games started by pitchers under 28. Amazing!)

Comment posted on Mon. Sep 19, 2011 at 11:20 AM

Mister B wrote:

Note for Bob — I worked until the end of a game during the homestand in early September and a guy walked past me, grousing, “It's just like watching the Rainiers.”

Of course, the Rainiers DID win the AAA championship last season, so I imagine that's one reason why so many of them are playing in Seattle this season. I think we all know the other reasons.

Note for Erik — After seeing the above photo, either I need to lose weight or work behind taller turnstiles.

More likely the former because I don't believe the latter exists.

Comment posted on Mon. Sep 19, 2011 at 08:18 PM
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