Chronologically, this entry should actually come before my day exploring the San Juan Islands. Whoops!
More importantly, this marks the final entry about last year’s five week tour of the United States! I could make some grand excuse as to why it has taken me this long but, in truth, I’ve just been a mix of lazy and distracted by other things (girls, cricket, booze, and video games for the most part). Here’s hoping that this streak of two posts in as many days will mean a return to my former literary fecundity!
In my previous entry, I talked about my old friend, Liz. If you’re not up to reading a lengthy entry about friendship, suffice to say that Liz was a very dear and very important friend in my early days in South Korea and remains a friend to this day.
So, when it was clear that my tour of the United States last summer was going to take us to Seattle, it was a lock that I had to see Liz, her husband (and my former Dungeons & Dragons cohort) CJ, and the irrepressible and vivacious Ruby (another great friend from my time in Korea).
Upon hearing the dates I’d be in town, CJ insisted that we go to a baseball game. His enthusiasm for taking my baseball virginity at a Mariners game was infectious, and before too long I was excited about the prospect of seeing the American pastime live and in the flesh.
Believe it or not, I’d actually played baseball growing up and was a passable second baseman in my day. Passable by Glen Innes High School standards, anyway; I imagine that’s somewhere near criminally bad by most American standards. I’d gone to a game or two in South Korea, but the standard of Korean baseball would be somewhat akin to watching basketball in China or ice hockey in Australia. Pretty shit, basically.
As luck would have it, the Mariners would be playing host to the Toronto Bluejays, so a win was very much a possibility.
After paying entirely too much for parking and walking several blocks, we met Liz, CJ, Ruby, and a few of their friends outside the park.
Australia has a great many large and iconic stadiums, but it seems like collosal arenas are par for the course across the United States. Safeco Field is a particularly impressive venue, and the Pyramid Ale House being next door is just icing on a rather awesome cake.
Upon seeing me, CJ hurriedly thrust a Seattle Mariners cap into my hand and I donned it with equal haste lest I be mistaken for a filthy Bluejays fan. Our posse soon made its way to the Ale House to get a few beers and dogs into us before the first pitch was thrown.
I really enjoyed the whole vibe of the place. Standing outside on a warm summer evening with a chili cheese dog in one hand and an ice cold, surprisingly good beer in the other? Heaven.
To say it felt pretty surreal and cool to be drinking beers from a plastic cup and eating hot dogs before a baseball game is an understatement. My fascination with American culture meant that partaking in this slice of Americana was actually checking off part of bucket list item #166.
Alas, I couldn’t check off bucket list item #264 (getting to second or third base at a baseball field). There just wasn’t time >_>
To be completely honest, I don’t recall a great deal of the game itself. I’ve never been a big fan of baseball as a spectator sport – I feel like it’s cricket for people too lazy to run as often or stand for as long. On top of this, the game itself was a low scoring affair that ended in a Mariners win.
I was too busy catching up, eating unhealthy food and drinking overpriced beer, and being led around the stadium by a super enthused CJ to really pay attention. We watched players warm up (and Heather of Nomadic American secured me a ball by saying I’d traveled from Australia by way of China to be there), drank beers in The Pen, and I even tried my arm at pitching and was thoroughly emasculated by CJ, who still plays to this day.
I guess it was the alcohol, but I don’t recall nearly as much of the evening as I’d have liked. Judging by the 3-0 final score, though, maybe I didn’t miss too much when it comes to the game.
The most important thing out of the evening was the opportunity to catch up with old friends, and I certainly got to do that. We bade farewell to Cody and Dez (who had been our companions in Portland) and I got to catch up with Ruby, CJ, and Liz.
Special mention also to Gabe, who had kindly donated a dozen or so D&D books to my nerding collection a few years earlier despite never having met me. Legend.
Bucket list item #166 might not seem like a big deal to most Americans, but to me – it was a fantastic experience to attend a baseball match as I’d seen so many TV and movie characters do so nonchalantly over the year.
Next stop? Wrigley Field!