[Note: fellow staff writer Grant Bronsdon and I attended other fellow staff writer John Trupin’s baseball game tonight. There was far more offense than the alternative.]
It’s a perfect Pacific Northwest night: temperate and mosquito-free, with just a hint of impending winter chill.
10 miles from Safeco Field the Ravens are taking on the Dodgers in the first game of the playoffs for the Cascade division of the Puget Sound Senior Baseball League. There is a very good Golden Retriever in the stands, his coat shimmering under the Bellevue College lights.
Baseball like this is a good reminder of the humility of the game. From our perch in the fourth row of the stands along the third base side we can hear every grunt, every swear, every belch from the Ravens starter who perhaps suffers from stress-induced acid reflux. When the Ravens’ shortstop scores from first on a line drive to left field we can watch the way his chest heaves with the exertion.
”Fuck, man,” he pants, as he makes his way past high-fiving teammates.
There’s a smattering of fans with us in the stands, and some of the players peacock past parents, grandparents, partners, when they perform well. During a time when it’s all too easy to feel disenchanted with baseball, this return to the “purity” of the game - the vocabulary here is decidedly impure - is welcome. The players span two decades in age, from 21-41; some are college players keeping in shape during the summer, others are grown men with families and 9-5s, but they’ve all gathered here tonight for the crack of the bat, the hum of the lights, the passive camaraderie of Saturday nights spent in decrepit dugouts.
17 minutes away the Mariners flail futilely against the Yankees. Mike Zunino homers, but so does Andrew McCutchen. A Giancarlo Stanton sac fly, then a Dee Gordon single, makes it a 2-2 game, but then a phone chirps with the notification that Austin - yes, Austin - Romine hit a solo shot. We each take a swig from the six-month-old can of red blend we found in the glove box of the car. It’s pretty good. The wine, not the baseball (or the Romines).
We arrived at Bellevue College late, not by much but just enough to be wildly unable to know what inning it is. At some point, while Shawn Armstrong is doing his damndest, the Dodgers score the first run of the game on a single up the middle. It’s real grass out here, the kind you want to picnic on, and the ball dies within seconds of landing. Noodle arms abound, and Ryan Cook gives up a sac fly to make it 4-2.
We’re rooting for the Ravens, and when they score one, then two in the following inning on a close play at the plate we’re both on our feet whooping before realizing...we’re the loudest ones cheering. It doesn’t take a psychologist to recognize transference.
The Mariners lost 4-2 to the Yankees, and Robinson Canó and Félix Hernández left with injuries. At press time the Ravens were beating the Dodgers 4-1.