son used to praise Safeco Field as a great venue, and it’s only 10 minutes walk from my apartment, but I’d never been tempted. I don’t watch much baseball anyway: I think the last game I saw was in San Francisco with Chris and Celeste. But yesterday I suggested to Kate – almost idly – that there was a game starting in just over an hour, and 35 minutes later we were sitting in wonderful seats overlooking first base.In nearly three years of living in Seattle, I’d never been to a baseball game. My
At first, I simply enjoyed the sun, the cityscape, and the buzz of the crowd, and I simply… well, tolerated the baseball. Seattle was hosting the Oakland Athletics, and neither team was playing very well. Oakland got 3 runs in the first innings and Seattle never looked like catching up. The worst team in the AL West was beating the best, and both looked like minor league teams. None of the pitchers looked comfortable: Oakland used five, while Seattle ran through an incredible eight pitchers. So I amused myself by experimenting with the burst mode in my Panasonic DMC-TZ4. It’s a great way of uncovering the anatomy of, say, a swing and miss; you can see the exact point at which the batsman realizes that he’s not connecting.
So things bumbled along in a pleasant, sunny, spring Sunday afternoon kind of way. Around the bottom of the eighth, the crowd began to disperse, including the guy in front of me (in a $70 seat!) who’d spent the entire game playing Sudoku on his iPhone. And then, unexpectedly, Seattle scored a home run in the bottom of the ninth to tie things up at 4-4. And suddenly the entire character of the game changed, along with the attitude of the crowd. Everybody was engaged. The pitchers were still struggling, and the batsmen all seemed to be committed to distributing foul balls to as many kids as possible, but we were all concentrating.
In the 13th, it looked as if it was all over. Oakland scored three runs, and almost swaggered onto the field intent on closing things out. But Seattle came back, scored three runs, almost got a winner, and we were tied up again at 7-7.
The game had started just after 1pm, and it was now after 5. The floodlights came on, whereupon the clouds broke and bathed the field in a glorious sunset. In the middle of the 14th, the crowd was encouraged to stand up and have a second seventh-inning stretch, to mark the passage of seven more innings since the first! We went into the bottom of the 15th inning, and Oakland decided to relieve their long-suffering pitcher, Gonzalez, by bringing back one of their starters, Eveland. It was a fatal mistake. Eveland had no control, gave up a hit, committed a throwing error after fielding a bunt, and loaded the bases. It only remained for the center fielder to misjudge an easy pop-up for Seattle to score an improbable win.