L: U. Jimenez
W: A. Harang
S: T. Wilhelmsen
The field views
I am feeling infinitely better today which is good because I have been looking forward to seeing this stadium since 1999. I have a confession to make. For a brief time in my childhood, I was a secret Mariners fan. The years where this club had Griffey Jr., Buhner, Martinez (both Tino and Edgar), Johnson, Sweet Lou and more were fun years to watch. I even bought myself an old Mariners Trident hat that I wore alone in my bedroom. Tucked away in the Pacific Northwest is a gorgeous ballpark that does not get nearly enough attention.
Not even the aftermath of my food poisoning was going to keep me from exploring as much of Safeco Field as possible. I scheduled a stadium tour for the morning and was pleasantly surprised that even though this was a game day, we were able to sit in the dugout and visit the post-game press conference room. This one and a half hour guided tour was one of the best ones thus far. One of the things that I learned was that the retractable roof that is installed here in Seattle is different from the others across the country. When the roof is closed at Safeco, it does not insulate the stadium, but rather acts as a large umbrella to simply cover the field of play. When the roof is closed in Houston, Miami, Milwaukee, Toronto and Arizona it essentially turns their parks into domes. Seattle's roof protects the game from getting wet from overhead, but without closing off the elements outside. Luckily it was a gorgeous day so we did not get a demonstration of the roof being closed. I also learned that on average the Mariners close the roof 11 times a year. Hear that Houston and Miami? Seattle plays under the sun more than you.
After the tour (which you can see photos of above) I had a little bit of time to kill so I walked around Seattle and found a place called Il Corvo to eat some lunch. As I have mentioned before, the one true downside of doing this tour is the lack of time I have in each city. The pasta at Il Corvo was outstanding and I feel like there are probably dozens of other restaurants in the area that would be just as delicious. This feels like such a cool city to hang out in, but I will have to come back again and really spend some time downtown because after lunch it was time to head back to the stadium for some batting practice.
In most stadiums the gates open either ninety minutes or two hours before first pitch. An hour and a half is not nearly enough time to experience everything a ballpark has to offer so when I arrived a little early today I was pleasantly surprised. At Safeco Field the gates are opened a full two and a half hours before first pitch. The full stadium was not open yet, but the area called “The Pen” had more than enough fun stuff to do in the meantime.
In The Pen there are the obligatory bars and vendors to visit, but there is also a large open area where you can watch batting practice and try and catch a ball before it sails over your head. Both home and visitor bullpens are visible from The Pen and there are some great views of the entire stadium. I highly recommend getting to the game as early as possible and spending some time in The Pen. Whether you are alone and want to watch BP or with friends and want to enjoy a drink and a dog, there is something fun to do for everybody.
This was just a taste of what was to come. What I discovered once the park was fully accessible was the plethora of viewing options the fans have. In the modern stadium, one of the major selling points is the fact that there are sight-lines to the field throughout the concourse. In every modern park I have been to I have been told how the field is visible from the concourse. This is the first stadium where it really stood out to me. No matter where you walk or stand in line for a hot dog, you can almost always get a great view of the diamond. In addition, there are several standing room only sections peppered all over the stadium that give unique vantage points of the outfield, the bullpens and much more. I was told by one of the ushers that they encourage people to walk the stadium during the game and take in an inning from a different perspective. This is the first stadium where I found myself wanting to spend more time out of my seat than in it. You can really experience every angle of the field with the price of one ticket. While all ballparks encourage you to wander a little, there are always heavy restrictions over where you can go. Often times the best views are prohibited without spending an exorbitant amount of money (justifiably so). There are certainly restricted areas at Safeco, but there is ample opportunity for those in the cheap seats to check out many different angles of the play on the field.
Once inside there are the standard speed pitch, battings cages and kids play area set up. Mariner Moose hangs out in his Moose Den where he poses for pictures with both kids and adults. There is also a Hall of Fame area with plaques and memorabilia from the Mariners of the past. While there is no shortage of fun activities to do at Safeco, it truly is the view of the field that is the main attraction.
There are some who argue that baseball has too many teams and that expansion has watered down the sport. There are some who want more teams in the league. I am not sure where I fall in this debate, but if there is to be a new team any time soon it needs to be placed in the Pacific Northwest. Whether it be expansion or relocation, Seattle is too far away from the rest of Major League Baseball. This is a gorgeous area of the country and there are some passionate fans who travel very long distances to watch live baseball. I am thinking either Vancouver, British Columbia or Portland, Oregon. I met people from Canada, Oregon, Montana, Idaho and Wyoming who had all driven many miles to watch the Mariners play a relatively meaningless game against the Indians on a Monday evening. As I have mentioned before, I am never in favor of a city losing their team, but there are large geographical pockets of this great land of ours that are starving for some live Major League Baseball.
Before the game could start I needed to take care of my pregame ballpark meal. A stand called Ivar's Seafood and Chowder caught my eye and I picked up a grilled wild Alaskan Salmon sandwich. It was pretty tasty, but I am regretting not trying something from the Intentional Wok. Clever word play aside, the Japanese influence permeates Safeco Field due to the Mariners being owned by Nintendo.
Today's game was a short one clocking in at a mere 2 hours and 35 minutes. During the game I sat next to a man named John Anderson and his adorable son. We chatted throughout the game about Mariners baseball and his family. John told me some amazing stories about his coworkers and the baseball memorabilia they collect. I am always fascinated by the collections people amass. Baseball is a sport that will most likely be around as long as there are people on this planet so there are times when I think about what we are watching now and how it will be seen in 100 years. When I hear about Ty Cobb, Josh Gibson and Honus Wagner I get chills down my spine. One day, if I am lucky enough, I will be able to tell my great-grand kids about Miguel Cabrera, Derek Jeter and Ichiro Suzuki. I probably won't last that long, but the stats and memories of these ballplayers will always be there to send chills down the spines of future generations.
This was the perfect game. There was fantastic pitching from both the Mariners and the Indians and there were some home runs to ignite the crowd. It was a pitcher's duel that featured three home runs. Ubaldo Jimenes of the Indians pitched into the sixth inning giving up only two runs on five hits, but Seattle's Aaron Harang was just a little better allowing just one run on four hits. Both bullpens threw up zeros on the board for the rest of the game and we all got to go home at a reasonable hour. Nick Swisher, Kendrys Morales and Mike Zunino all hit home runs and the home team sent the fans home happy with a victory.
I did not hear the news until the game was long over, but Mariners manager Eric Wedge suffered a stroke sometime after batting practice and was taken to the hospital. During my tour of the stadium this morning I had seen Wedge monitoring Michael Morse who has been on the disabled list. Wedge along with the team trainer stood out on the field for 20-30 minutes as Morse ran the bases. A fellow tour member and I discussed how much we both liked Wedge and how much positive work he does for the Seattle community. I wish Wedge all the best and hope for a very speedy recovery.
During the game I did leave my seat to stroll around the entire park and take in the game from all angles. Not that you need me to tell you this, but if you find yourself anywhere near the Pacific Northwest between April and October make it a point to catch a game at Safeco field. You can buy the cheapest ticket in the house and still get some of the best views in baseball from all around the stadium. This was the perfect antidote to my food poisoning and I feel reenergized and ready to drive back down to Los Angeles.
Next up: Dodgers Stadium
Game Time Temp: 73
First Pitch Time: 7:10 PM
First Pitch: Seattle Seahawks WR Golden Tate
National Anthem: Jim Doepke
Seventh Inning Stretch: Louie Louie
Total Pitches Thrown: 273
Total Hits: 11
Total Singles: 5
Total Doubles: 3
Total Triples: 0
Total Home Runs: 3
Total Walks: 6
Total Strike Outs: 12
Total Errors: 2
Game Time: 2:35
Attendance: 18,009 (37.8% full)
Home Plate Umpire: Bill Welke
Miles Traveled: 30 miles
Time in Car: 1 hour 20 minutes
Sleep Time: 9 Hours
Bottles of Water: 5
Food Eaten: Pasta from Il Corvo
Ballpark Food: Grilled Wild Alaskan Salmon, Ice Cream helmet,
Scoreboard Cap Game: Under Cap #1
Money spent on parking: $12.20
Money spent on ticket: $64.68
Cost of Program: $3
Money spent on food: $18.66
Total money spent on Merchandise: $17.29
Total Money spent at stadium: $112.83
Total Money spent today $112.83