I’d not been to a baseball game since moving here and to be honest, the people I’ve met haven’t given me much incentive to go. Coming from the UK, the only sports I could liken it to were rounders, which I played as a child, or cricket, which is even slower and duller than baseball sounded.
But when we were offered a couple of free tickets, I thought it would be worth checking out. I’d already been a season ticket holder for the beleaguered Seattle Supersonics basketball team and had been to more than my fair share of Seattle Seahawks American football games. I could appreciate basketball for the fast and furious action. American football I’m not sure I’ll ever understand (what kind of sport has the players stop and chat every 30 seconds?)
The Mariner’s play at Safeco Field, a 19.59-acre outdoor park with real grass and a retractable roof. It’s also right next door to Qwest Field, home of the Seahawks. If you want to get the full game experience, you should arrive at 7:05pm for the national anthem. If you don’t, you can show up at 7:15pm, which is when the game really starts.
The rules of baseball seemed fairly straightforward although a friend and I got some pointers from people in front of us. We had great seats; about 28 rows back from the home plate. Ticket prices range from $7 to $55 for a single game and obviously the cheaper the ticket, the higher up and farther away you are.
Safeco Field is a great stadium to see a sporting event, especially on a summer’s day where you can bask in the sun for a while. As far as the facilities go, it’s a haven for fast food and beer-lovers. Beer and soda is available everywhere you look and the food choices are pretty much limited to pizza, burgers, and hot dogs, although there is a nod to Mariner’s player Ichiro Suzuki with a sushi bar. We grabbed a couple of lukewarm hotdogs and a soda, which set us back $13. Fast food definitely does not come cheap at game time and a pint of beer costs $8.
Bad food aside, the true point of going to any match is to experience the spirit of the crowd and even with the Mariner’s losing 3-5 to the Pittsburgh Pirates, people were waving complimentary t-shirts in the air before the final inning in the hopes that it would pull another home run out of their team. The game attracts all types of families and friends of all ages and sizes. Some dress up and dance in the hopes of being captured on the large screen beside the scoreboard.
One guy in our group was lucky enough to catch a foul ball hit by Mariner Richie Sexson. I ducked for cover (I swear it flew higher than the stadium) as our friend jostled to grab it. He got away relatively unhurt although I think most fans who catch a foul ball end up with a bruised hand at the very least.
Many people leave the stadium after the seventh inning to avoid the end game traffic congestion. We left after the eighth, which was just as well as there was no scoring in the final inning, and by that time it was 10:15pm. With a running time of 3.5+ hours I can see why a lot of people think that baseball games go on a bit long, especially given that there are 162 games to get though in just one season.