So it goes. A new name, a new team, and a new feel. T-Mobile Park. In the heart of downtown Seattle. There’s enough pink in this stadium to choke a horse. It was heart-breaking to watch the letters of “Safeco Field” being peeled off the side of the roof letter by letter during the off season. It was gut-wrenching to see constant updates on social media of freeway signs being changed to “T-Mobile Field” from the local news outlets. Then came the inevitable gutting of the 2018 Mariners lineup. Player by player, the organization chipped away at our souls by trading away our favorite players and allowing free agency to swallow up whatever was left over. No more 425 foot bombs into the ‘Pen from Nelson Cruz. No more Robinson Cano dazzling us at second base with his nonchalant throws to first to get his man in the nick of time. No more Mike Zunino. No more.
The off season was brutal. It was a gut check to any die hard Mariners fan. And what made things worse was: no Mariners Fanfest during the most depressing, most darkest times in the Pacific Northwest. Winter. Mariners Fanfest was the beacon that lit up our dark days when the sun set at 4:33pm. Fanfest was the glowing marker that allowed us hope, that told us that spring training was nearly three weeks away. It was what got us through the winter. And that was gone, too.
They made us wait. They made us wait until the end of March for any kind of Mariners action. The Mariners put on a two-game series versus the San Diego Padres at T-Mobile Park. When I got to the gates, I could see that the batting cage was up and some of the Mariners were taking some cuts. I could hear the hum of the stadium, and smell the freshly cut grass. Baseball was back and it was truly exciting. When 4:30pm rolled around, I noticed some particulars. There weren’t any “Safeco Field” employees anymore. It was all people in yellow, dark green and black coats with the words “Staff Pro” written across the backs of the coats. Strange, I thought. When 4:40pm rolled around, and none of the gates had been unlocked, opened or even prepped for entry, I knew there were some major changes and not just with naming rights. The Mariners roster wasn’t the only thing gutted.
4:52pm ticked on the big clock in the outfield, and Staff Pro employees were finally able to get the gates open (12 minutes late). Throughout batting practice, I didn’t see much of Staff Pro so I assume that they’re just running the security operations at the gates. I hung out in the ‘Pen for awhile until about 5:10pm where I headed over to the lower third base seating bowl. The Padres were out doing their thing during BP-which was great to see even during an exhibition game. The Padres had a lot of young players on the roster up from triple A affiliate since this technically was a spring training game.
I caught up with Joey Lucchesi and got a quick picture with him prior to the game starting:
Since a whole 6,400 people showed up for this game, everyone’s’ tickets said GA on them which meant we could sit anywhere we wanted, (except in the Diamond Club, of course). I sat in foul grounds near the right field foul pole hoping for foul balls all game long. At the end of nine innings, nothing came remotely close to me.
The Padres came out swinging and routed the Mariners for six runs in the first inning with home runs from Franmil Reyes, (a three-run shot) and Austin Hedges. Hedges home run was a monster shot deep into the M’s bullpen. Manuel Margot homered in the 4th inning to make it 7-0 and then homered again in the 7th, (a 383 foot blast) to make it 8-0. The Mariners never recovered.
The Padres are rated to be very good this season, and with the additions like Manny Machado and a great farm system, I’d say this is a early reminder of how well the Padres might play this year. As far as the Mariners are concerned… stay tuned.
Game: March 25th 2019
San Diego Padres versus Seattle Mariners
Venue: T-Mobile Park