Today marks the 1 week point of the season. Despite the offense spending its time in Oakland checking all of our Angel bullpen fueled hype the Mariners are at 4-2, and coming home. The last time the Mariners opened up at home two or more games above .500 was the 2009 season, this writer's favorite Mariner team since the Dark Times began a decade ago.
They will open that home schedule for the 14th time and the 15th season of Safeco Field. The (wonderful) Mariner PR folks are fond of using #ILoveSafecoField when talking about Safeco. I don't know if I can share that strong of a feeling. I do believe it's a terrific place to watch a baseball game. I do think it's beautiful. I like that the team continues to tinker with things, adding new food options, seating (or standing) areas, and of course last year brought the reshaping of the outfield dimensions.
Safeco is great. It beats the hell out of the Kingdome. But I love UniRacers on the SNES more than most video games made in the last console generation, despite their objective superiority in almost every way. Safeco has felt like, to me, a staged home. Everything looks great. Everything kind of is great. But I hate staged homes. Everything in them feels forced, down to the smell.
But there have been times, back in 2000-2003, Felix's perfect game, Ichiro's hit record, etc. when the team's performance allows the crowd to fill Safeco with the kind of passion and enthusiasm that makes the stadium's aesthetic beauty a compliment to the experience, rather than a brick and distressed wood hammer bashing you on the head, telling you to appreciate how amazing everything is.
My favorite Safeco memory happened quite recently. It was the first Supreme Court, August 21, 2012. It wasn't the way that the place looked, with every single one of almost 40,000 people wearing the same shirt. It wasn't the standing ovation that began when Felix first stepped out of the bullpen and continued as he slowly walked to the mound, a city unleashing a torrent of love for that rare athlete that actually appears to make love a two-way street.
It was in the bottom of the 7th. The Indians had just tied the game in the top of the inning. The score was 1-1. Michael Saunders walked. Kyle Seager swinging bunted a single. Blessed Saint John Jaso chased Roberto "Fausto" Carmona with a ground rule double, and the Mariners reclaimed the lead 2-1, putting Felix in position for the win that our narrative demanded.
But that still wasn't the moment. The moment came right after. Esmil Rogers threw a 2-1 slider to Jesus Montero. Carlos Santana wanted it down. It wasn't down enough.
The ball made it over the 3rd baseman's head. I never saw it land. I turned around and jumped into the arms of the stranger behind me. I high fived everyone within and some outside of my reasonable reach. We came to coronate our King. Anything less than victory was unacceptable. When Jesus Montero's stupid, underachieving, fat self swung that bat and made contact we knew we could party.
That's my Safeco Field moment. The sun is taunting us while we work and the Mariners don't play until tomorrow. What's yours?