I went to my annual Mariners' game last night—seats behind third base for a Red Sox game were my gift to my mother for her 86th birthday. (And, yes, seats in a decent section are worth $120 each.)
It was about as good as baseball gets. Both teams are having lousy seasons, characterized by weak hitting in the bottom of the order for both. But it was a tight game, with lots of runners on base and full counts. It went extra innings, displayed a total of 10 pitchers (!), and included stolen bases, errors, hit batters, brilliant line drives, sacrifices, bunts, home runs, and a grand slam. About all we were missing was a manager yelling at an umpire and stomping on his hat--but they probably don't do that on the West Coast.
Pitching ranged from excellent (Boston's Arroyo went 7 innings, allowed only 1 run, and got Ichiro to strike out looking in the 6th) to wild (Seattle's Villone and the Sox's Foulke, who each hit a batter). I'd never seen the Mariner's reliever Mike Myers pitch before--his pitch appears to be underhand, quite fast, and, with two out and a runner on second in the top of the 11th, saved the game by befuddling Johnny Damon into flying out.
Safeco Stadium is a great stadium, well lit without glare, outdoors yet sheltered, and very "retro" in its feel. The fans were for the most part well-behaved. Though I think it's rude to depart in the 7th inning just because your team is losing at that point. And, as it turned out, it was stupid as well.
Initially I was appalled by the snippets of loud rock and pop music (not organ versions, but the actual tracks) that blast over the loudspeaker after every play. I fantasized that if I were Paul Allen I'd pay to have an evening in which the only music would be the traditional ballpark organ (the Mariners have a good organist). But I had to admit that the DJ programming the tracks was pretty damn sharp. After a runner was caught between first and second, he (she?) played The Clash ("Should I Stay or Should I Go?"); as the coaches huddled to discuss yanking a beseiged pitched, it was the Dave Clark Five's "Do You Love Me?"
If you've lost touch with baseball, this season with the Mariners could be the time to get back in the groove. Safeco Field is probably one of the best fields in baseball (terrific food, including the suishi bar featuring the Ichiro Roll, and Hebrew National hot dogs). And, if you haven't seen the brilliant fielding and selfless batting of Ichiro Suzuki, you haven't seen baseball as an art form.
A nice place to follow the games is on the Major League Baseball section of the well-designed Sports Networks site, where you can see plenty of game info absolutely free: Previews, Matchups, Lineups, a wonderful narrative Log, a Wrap, and the Box Score.
For tickets, try the official Mariners site, which will lead you to TicketMaster, or, for good seats, go to the Mariners section of Stub Hub where you can pick up tickets that season ticket holders are selling. The closer you get to game day, the cheaper the ticket prices.
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