Monday, September 21, 2009

Seattle Mariners, Washington Huskies and Elation (part 1)


I'm with Seattle Times columnist Jerry Brewer and UDub Football Head Coach Steve Sarkisian. Wow.

After attending the Mariners-Yankees game Friday night and the Huskies-USC game Saturday afternoon, I think my legs are still shaking. Our group of 4 on Friday was looking more for a good night together to see the Yankee juggernaut and entourage--always baseball history in the making. We were looking for a good hanging out activity.

This year the Mariners have their own history in the making with arguably the best pitcher in baseball (Felix Hernandez) and two future Hall of Famers (the still productive Ichiro and the larger than life Ken Griffey, Jr.). The Mariners are still a compelling storyline despite their exit from playoff contention about 6 weeks ago. No one really saw (except for my brother) Ichiro winning the game off of the rarely beaten Darth Vader of relief pitchers Mariano Rivera in the bottom of the 9th with two outs. I still have chills when I think of watching it live and seeing them all celebrate.

What was also fun was that our group of four sat behind a cohort of Yankee fans. I am not a Yankee hater, though I like them less and less as the years pass. I can't hate them because one of my baseball heroes was a Yankee--Don Mattingly. I modeled my own game and preparation after his. I even celebrated his birthday as a high school athlete (April 20, BTW). The Yankee fans were a bit obnoxious (must have been that they sucked down copious amounts of beer and passed around a flask). But they were popping off to the Mariner fans around them--a game 10 year old boy sitting in front of them took the best approach and just cheered louder for the Mariners. I basically ignored them for most of the game (actually, didn't respond to them). I took note of some of their ramblings, but this joke typifies their banter:

Q: What's the difference between a Mariner hot dog and a Yankee hot dog?
A: You can eat a Yankee hot dog in October!

In my first of two responses during the contest, I pointed out to the Yankee fan that one could eat a Mariner hot dog in October this season, because with the World Baseball Classic being held this spring, the final Mariner home stand of the season took place in October. One could buy a Mariner hot dog then. And technically, one can buy a Mariner hot dog at any Costco in Western Washington, as one can buy the Mariner Dog brand there and serve them at home. I told him that if you really want to create an accurate joke, he could say that a Yankee hot dog can be eaten in November, since the recent advent of the opening round of the playoffs now is a best of 7 series, the World Series can fall on the first week of November. But that would also be inaccurate, since the dawn of the expanded playoff series, the Yankees have either been inept in the playoffs or the regular season. Therefore, he can't really tell a joke, and he was just popping off.

My second response was delayed after he said the game was over after the Mariano Rivera entrance. I can't say I held out too much hope for a response. But I did openly call for Mike Sweeney to pinch hit in the 9th, since he's been swinging such a hot bat in the past few months and would be one of the least likely to be intimidated by Rivera. My friend who flew in from Kansas City, part of the hapless KC Royals fan base, was at least happy to see someone with Royals connections do well. With Sweeney's double in the gap, and Ichiro coming to the plate, all things were possible to tie the game. I thought he would double in the gap to tie the game. My brother declared Ichiro was ending it and going yard.

My brother was right--and we went berserk. Pandemonium. Pure elation. My dad and I each shared that our legs were shaking. Such a calm evening turned into a gigantic celebration. No one wanted to go home. We soaked in the moment and gave thanks we didn't have to run around like Jim Valvano looking for someone to hug. We had our troupe right there. We were the re-incarnation of the High Five'n White Guys.

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