|Safeco Field left-field entrance, Seattle, Washington|
Our seats are in Section 116, field level along the right-field line. The stadium organist plays Weather Report's “Birdland” during warmups.
Dark clouds hang overhead, but no drops fall, as they haven't for several years on this date. The temperature at first pitch is 71 degrees, and there is almost no wind. The retractable roof remains open as the Mariners host the Boston Red Sox.
|View from Section 116 of Safeco Field, Seattle, Washington|
The gameday program, called “Grand Salami” (a play on the baseball term “grand slam”), features contributions from industry friends such as Jeff Angus and David Laurila. Not the usual extension of a team's public relations department, this program is independently produced and disarmingly honest in its assessment of the Mariners.
Seattle is shut out by a mediocre veteran pitcher named Aaron Cook. I've documented the gory details elsewhere ($), but this excerpt is relevant to our story:
It is understood that when I refer to the Mariners as the home team, I mean in name only. Red Sox fans outnumbered Mariners fans by plenty at both games we attended. Many stayed in our hotel, a fact not lost on folks who worked at said hotel. They expressed, in the diplomatic way that hotel workers must express things to customers, displeasure at seeing so many people root for the “other” team.
This was not an issue before 2004, when the Red Sox broke a nonsensical curse, attracting in the process a legion of people who self-identify as “long-suffering,” which might be the only thing more nonsensical than the notion of a curse. What bothered the hotel workers most was that many of these “fans” called Washington home. Their connection to Boston was that, frankly, that city's franchise had been successful where Seattle's had not.
The hotel workers seemed disappointed at my lack of outrage. As a customer, I could be more passionate about such matters without fear of appearing unprofessional. Instead, I nodded my head and explained that the situation is pretty much the same in San Diego.
They shrugged their shoulders and returned to being diplomatic. I shrugged my shoulders and, blissfully indifferent to outcome, boarded the shuttle that would take me to Safeco Field.
After the seventh-inning stretch, we explore the ballpark. Another industry friend recommends visiting the upper deck for a view of the city. We are not disappointed.
|View from upper deck of Safeco Field, Seattle, Washington (Space Needle in background)|
Former Padres left-handed pitcher Oliver Pérez finishes the game for Seattle. He is a favorite of ours from his days at Lake Elsinore in the California League, and we cheer when his name is announced. We cheer again when Pérez strikes out another former Padres player, Adrián González, to end the eighth inning.
After the game, on our way back to the hotel via their courtesy shuttle that is nearly an hour late, we pass a man on the sidewalk playing a miniature drum set. I'm reminded of Soundgarden's “Spoonman,” which celebrates and features Seattle street performer Artis the Spoonman.
This is a city of music and musicians. And even as the thwacking of drums recedes, the rhythms resonate within us and lull us to sleep in preparation for tomorrow.