The highly anticipated return of Ichiro was witnessed by thousands of Mariners fans. As the season progressed, more and more fans are now under the impression that Ichiro should be let go. Fans have even gone as far as saying he needs time in Triple A. Laughable, at best. First of all, Ichiro can not be sent to Triple A. A lot of fans do not understand contractual commitments and rules set forth by the team and the player. Players with five years or more in service can not be sent down to Triple A without the players consent. And if the team does intend to try, the player can option out and become a free agent.
I’ll admit. I sucked back tears when Ichiro return to the Mariners when I saw him run out on that red carpet on 3/29/2018. It was nostalgic. It was surreal. It was pure excitement. But it’s become old. And tired. And boring. Ichiro is just another public relations stunt whether the Mariners organization wants to admit it or not. He is. Period. Bottom line. He’ll be gone by the All-Star break. If he isn’t, I’ll buy my friends a seat in the outfield and I’ll wear an Ichiro jersey or a Jack Cust jersey or something else equally embarrassing. Mariners fans are tired of the same old rhetoric by the top brass. I remember when Ken Griffey Junior returned to Seattle. Previously, I had watched him in a game when he was with the White Sox. He was a beaten down old dog that needed to retire then. Two years later? My oh my. He was slightly overweight and slow. But I put those feelings aside and applauded his return like a good little M’s fan.
Griffey didn’t do well in those remaining seasons with Seattle. He batted a .184 his final season (down from .214 in 2009), there were rumors he was sleeping in the clubhouse during games and he was gassed running the bases. His bat speed was down and he couldn’t play defense. It was a sad sight to be had, and the upper management preached on about how he was a role model, a great clubhouse leader and a great influence on the younger players (probably true). Fast forward to 2018. Here we are again. Jerry Dipoto said the same exact things about Ichiro a few weeks ago. Ichiro this, Ichiro that. Blah, blah, blah. I will admit. Ichiro can still hit and run and play some defense. The problem is; there are too many young guys that the Mariners have placed all their hopes and dreams into and those guys need playing time. For Ichiro to make an impact on the season, he too needs playing time. Lots of it. He’s a regular, veteran player and he needs a full-time gig in right field. He isn’t a utility guy. So I stand by my prediction. By the All-Star break, he will be gone, and there will be a wonderful “Ichiro Retirement” party at Safeco Field. Mark my words, Seattle.
Mike Leake was on the mound for the Mariners, and I thought it was going to be a good pitching game but the Astros came for blood right out of the gates. George Springer roped a sharp single to center field, and Dee Gordon had to do everything in his power to keep it from reaching the wall, (which he did beautifully). The Astros failed to score, though. In the top of the second, McCann doubles off the wall to score Marwin Gonzales to get things going for the Astros.
The Mariners tied things up in the 3rd one apiece. Then the wheels start coming off in the 7th. Leake gives up a walk to Josh Reddick, (who I saw before the game in an immaculate maroon suit). Yuli Gurriel hits a ground rule double into left field and then Gonzalez singles which scores both Reddick and Gurriel. McCann follows up with a double and that would end Leake’s night. Nick Vincent replaced Leake, and soon after the Mariners committed a fielding error which scored a run. Houston 4, Mariners 1. George Springer doubled to break it wide open scoring two base runners. Houston leads 6-1.
Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager both struck out swinging to end the game.
Final Score: Houston Astros 7 Seattle Mariners 1.
Total Lifetime Games Attended: 130
Total Baseballs Snagged This Season: 5
Total Lifetime Baseballs Snagged: 363
Total Lifetime Foul Balls Snagged: 1
Total Lifetime Home Run Balls Snagged: 0
Sick as a dog. I had all the flu symptoms and absolutely no energy. I didn’t want to come out to Safeco Field just for those reasons. But I mustered up what little energy I had and drove the short 20 miles to the stadium two hours before the gates opened, took a short 25 minute nap in my car, straightened myself up and walked to the baseball stadium. I arrived around 4pm which is pretty late for my standards. But the Kansas City Royals were in town for a four game stretch and that meant that the crowd would be minimal. Good for me but bad for the Mariners. They deserve a full house everyday. And Safeco Field is a wonderful stadium to visit.
When I got into the stadium the batting practice equipment was set up and ready to go but the field was a ghost town. The only person around was the Mariners bullpen catcher, Jason Phillips. He was quietly perched on the bullpen bench staring out into the open, empty field as I was. I said hello to Phillips and we engaged in small talk before some of the Mariners pitching staff arrived.
And just for your general knowledge, Jason Phillips is a really cool guy. Also for your general knowledge I forgot my SD card for my camera so I had to use my iPhone to take pictures. So if the pictures seem to be awkwardly long or the resolution isn’t as good, that’s why. I still have the first generation iPhone because I’m too cheap to buy a brand new one. Plus I like to spend my money traveling to other stadiums.
When the Mariner pitching staff arrived, Jason got into full catching gear and then he turned to me and said, ” We probably won’t be taking BP, but they will.” I wasn’t sure if he was talking to me or not at first and then I realized he was. I thought that was pretty awesome that Jason kind of had an idea of why I was there. Not only to watch the game, mind you. But to snag baseballs too. And for a good reason. If you are just now reading my blogs I’ve started a charity called, Snagging Baseball for Puppies. Since I snag so many baseballs throughout the seasons I wanted to put it to a good cause. I contacted the Seattle Humane Society at the beginning of this season and asked if they’d like to support something like that. They said yes and so far I’ve raised $166 dollars. I’ve even had some employees at Safeco Field drop in a pledge. And if you’re also wondering what I do with all the baseballs I catch, some times I give them away to kids, some I keep and now I’m starting to give some away to military veterans. Since I’m a military veteran myself I figured that would be a good way to show my military support. If you want to check out my baseball snagging stats just click here.
When the rest of the stadium opened up I snuck around through the outfield and ran down to the first base seating bowl to try to snag a toss-up from one of the Mariners pitching staff. But it was slim pickins’. I did, however, get this fabulous picture of Billy Butler and Jamey Wright talking. They were teammates twice before, (I think) so they were doing a little catching up.
Jamey Wright was playing catch with Brandon League and when they got done tossing the baseball around, Brandon tossed the ball into the left field bleachers. When that happened I left the seating bowl and ran to the centerfield seats. And it literally paid off the moment I walked down to the front row. I don’t know who hit it but the ball ended up bouncing off the warning track and right into my glove…
That’s Aaron Crow in the backfield. I called out to him as I was walking down the stairs to the front row to get the baseball he had. He tossed it in and watched me make the grab. I anticipated the high bounce and jumped just as the baseball hit the warning track but it died so much that I had to hurry up and land to make the catch before the ball disappeared into no man’s land. (The centerfield wall gap) Moments later I caught another baseball on the fly. I had to climb over one row of seats to make the catch but I did it.
After that I ran down to the ‘Pen area because Bruce Chen of the Kansas City Royals was in centerfield fielding a lot of baseballs. Since I had on my Royals hat I knew it would be a sure thing from him. When I got down there him and Jesse Chavez were teasing the fans with a baseball. Chen would throw the ball just out of reach and then toss it to Chavez. Chavez would then throw the baseball high enough over the wall but low enough that Chen could jump up and rob the fans from any catch that would be made. I didn’t bother to take part in the reindeer games because I knew I had one simple advantage. My Kansas City Royals hat. And when Bruce Chen was done having his fun, he started to look for someone to throw the baseball to. And guess who got it? Here’s a picture of Bruce Chen after hooking me up with my third ball of the day:
I continued to move around the entire stadium looking for another opportunity to snag a baseball. I stopped here at the “Safeco Field Lookout” and snapped a quick photo and noticed Jeff Francis in left field all by himself. You won’t see him in the next photo but take a look anyway.
When I arrived down into the third base seating bowl there was a fan mixing it up with Francis and pleading for a baseball. Again, since I had on my Royals hat I had the upper hand over all these fans. Jeff eventually tossed him a baseball and then walked over to a small pile of them and started lobbing baseballs into the crowd. I called out to him a few times and got his attention. This was the result:
In the picture above you can see Jeff Francis throwing a baseball into the infield just over my glove. I’ve received a baseball from Francis before on 5-21-2010 at Kauffman Stadium when he was playing for the Colorado Rockies. So it was good to see him again and sort of re-unite with him on that level. That was my fourth baseball of the day and I was quite pleased at that point.
After batting practice had ended I made my way back down into the ‘Pen area to get something to eat. Dave Valle, a former Seattle Mariner catcher, started throwing out t-shirts and I got to be the lucky fan standing there when one came my way. It was drifting a little to my right and this guy behind me jumped up to try to rob me of it. I wasn’t trying all that hard to try to catch the t-shirt but it would have been cool to get one anyway. Well, the dude behind me had a cup of beer in his hand. You can probably guess what happened next. It’s a simple rule of physics. When you jump up in the air with something in your hand, like a cup of beer, most likely when you return to earth the beer in your cup is going to go everywhere and land on everyone. I happened to be standing in close proximity of this and yup! I got beer spilled on me. The guy didn’t even apologize and that’s why I don’t like competing for thrown baseballs, t-shirts or free hotdogs in the beer garden. Because people aren’t conscious of their drinks and they end up spilling them on everyone like a dope when something is thrown their way.
Even though I had beer spilt on me before the game, I ended up watching the some of the game from the party deck. Being that is was a Thursday night game it wasn’t all that crowded and it felt awesome to stand right by the Mariners bullpen. The other half of the game I actually sat in my assigned seat for once. Here was my view during the game:
While I was getting settled on the party deck by the Mariners bullpen I saw something very odd in my backpack. On one of the baseballs I saw what looked like to be a logo of some kind. So I pulled the baseball out of my bag and this is what I saw:
It’s hard to say where exactly this baseball came from. Expect the obvious; New Yankee Stadium. But I mean, where I got it at Safeco Field. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the ground rule double I caught because that baseball has defining markings from bouncing off the warning track. It could have been tossed up by Bruce Chen or Jeff Francis. But really? It didn’t really matter where it came from. I had it in my possession and I was thrilled to have caught a New Yankee Stadium baseball. I love these commemorative balls and there will be two new ones to snag next season when the Marlins get their new stadium and when the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate their 50th year in L.A. Next year I’m definitely going to Los Angeles for a few games.
Ichiro Suzuki led off the game with a first pitch, first inning home run. I actually thought about buying seats for that section before buying a ticket in the left field seats. But that’s how it goes. When I decide to sit elsewhere the baseballs go where I’m not. Story of my life.
Game; September 8th 2011 Kansas City Royals vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $172.40 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $43.00 this