impressions of Safeco Field

14 09 2007

Safeco Field, Seattle WA

The last MLB game I went to was in 1989 at the old Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia. I was with my father and our Boy Scout group.

Expos-Phillies.

I remember the traffic and parking near the stadium being terrible, and the seats were so high and so far back that we had to use binoculars to make out the players names on their jerseys. Von Hayes hit two home runs (“Von-tastic!” on the Jumbotron), and the Phils won 6-5.

Mike Schmidt would retire at the end of the season. The Vet, of course, is no more. The Expos would move from Montreal to Washington, D.C. and become the Nationals.

So I’d been away from attending a game for a while. On Wednesday night I decided to wander down Occidental Avenue and check out Safeco Field before the A’s-Mariners game, and maybe get a bite to eat and watch the game at one of the brewpubs in the stadium district.

The first thing I noticed was the amount of foot traffic towards the stadium, and the lack of obvious congestion and parking issues (although this might have something to do with the team being 5.5 games out of the playoffs with only a few weeks left in the regular season).

The seond thing I noticed was how cheap the left field bleacher seats were. Only $14! You can get a movie ticket for a little less, and not be nearly entertained. Although I hadn’t planned on actually going to the game, I whipped out my credit card and found myself in second level in left field, about three rows back from the rail.

Safeco is every bit as nice as it looks on TV.

The sight-lines from the seats are so much better than the Vet; I could see all the action from my seat clearly, follow the ball well as it moved around the field, and read individual player names on the jerseys without straining my eyes. When I left my spot in the sixth inning to grab a Pepsi and some garlic fries, I didn’t miss any of the action on the field because of the open concession concourse.

The trains pulling into King Street Station made to sure really blast their horns, the noise is amplified as it bounces off the retractable roof in right field and rattles around the stadium.

The game itself was fantastic.

Dan Haren started for the A’s and pitched well, but Oakland’s offense couldn’t get enough run support to open up more than a one-run lead early. Ichiro and Raul Ibanez misplayed a fly ball in deep left-center, giving the A’s another lead after the Mariners had tied the score up again.

Alan Embree came in during the eighth inning and gave up a pinch-hit home run to Adam Jones to tie the game at 5-5. J.J. Putz pitched a brilliant ninth inning to hold the tie, and Yuni Betancourt hit a walk-off single to score a runner from second base to win the game for the Mariners, 6-5.

It was fun to be back at the ballpark again.

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