What I’ve Learned From 4 Months Of Diehard Mariners Baseball Fandom

Although there are endless wonderful things to do in Seattle to be a diehard fan about, one recent development is my four month (or could be more than that?) relationship with America’s pastime (does anyone see the sarcasm in this name for baseball?). Living in Seattle my whole life means automatically you are a Seattle Mariners fan. Well you like to make people think that. Still, even back in 2014 when I was dating a diehard baseball fan, I still had not embraced fully the “true to the blue” motto that I was surrounded by on a daily basis ( Yes, I have spent a Friday evening watching a single game in sweltering evening sun, but tell you that would take away from the atmosphere I am trying to get you to envision. So ignore that post).

In the four months of summer, I decided to not only punch out a four part series on baseball as the road to God (I know you are sick of me typing this out again, so this is the last time 😉 ), signing up for a 5K that let you run inside the ball park, and buying not one ticket, but a few, I dived navy blue ball cap- first into the apparent heartbreaking nightmare that is the Seattle Mariners. Yep I said that! I attended games at T-Mobile Park, streamed the games online, had the scores posted to my home-screen on my Galaxy phone, bought the ridiculously priced apparel- you know the drill right?

In fact I went so far as to venture out to some guy I knew who was a diehard fan to go to a game with me (boy did that turn out to be a three strikes out moment!). Still I found my grandma would be proud of me if she knew I went to a baseball game with a bunch of girls who liked baseball and still could sit through all nine innings. Even with trying to pray- praying hard- for the Mariners to win more than a few games, I still found the whole experience be a fabulous time (beer may have been involved) to do something old school American. Since we have reached the end of the season, I hold my steadfast commitment to “staying true to the blue.” For now.

Through the months of diehard (sorta) Mariner baseball fandom, I’ve learned quite a bit:

Those Baseball Sayings:

There are a ridiculous number of terms for various things in baseball that can be hilarious when you put them into everyday terms. Case in point;

Or is just me? When I really think about, dating is like a game of baseball and the terms above can be applied to the whole process. Take “home run” has many versions of meaning the same thing; “dinger, ” and “fat bomb” Just imagine during a baseball game, a date turns to you with a zinger of “playing hardball” with my heart. Let along the other variations of home run! Okay I will leave it right there.

Pitchers vs. Cows in Bullpens:

There is a sizable chance cattle would do a savvier job at maintaining a team’s lead than many of the pitchers paid millions to throw a ball come waltzing out of the bullpens. Mariners may no longer have ‘King” Felix anymore, but jeeze what the hell was that pitch? Same goes for batters, if someone pays you $330 million to hit a baseball, it’s advisable that you do so.

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Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame

Baseball Pants and… I lost train of thought:

I have this thing for a particular third baseman on the team

Since the Mariners franchise went in and cleaned up the roster, there has been some really nice new players to watch. I realized I should have held on to that dream I had in high school of marrying someone who gets paid $450 million (or in Kyle Seager’s case $19.5 million) to play a child’s game.

Also those baseball pants don’t hurt either! I think from this day forward I rather take a guy in baseball pants then skinny jeans any days.

Baseball Hall of Fame:

…is by far better than watching any entertainment award show. Plus when the new inductees this year had a Mariners player, it got even better! Just like how Seattle celebrated the Seahawks winning the Super Bowl, so did all the fans celebrate Edgar Martinez getting the much deserve Hall of Fame status.

Always fashionable in the stands:

I don’t know, but donning a baseball cap, sunglasses, team shirt, blue jeans, and sneakers never goes out of style-ever. Well for girls is does not. No matter what body shape someone is, everyone looks good in the team jersey or shirt. Look up baseball outfits on Pinterest and you will see what I mean.

mean look at those smiles!

Maybe next year I can move on to being a diehard Tacoma Rainer’s fan? After all that is the Mariner’s minor league peeps are at! As every Mariners fan keeps saying “keep up the fight.” (Now I’m going to put away my Mariners shirt with my summer stuff).

Running The Bases| Refuse To Abuse 5K

What does a person do on a beautiful sunny morning in Seattle? They get up early to run 3.1 miles around a baseball stadium. This past Saturday I participated in Refuse to Abuse 5k at T-Mobile Park. The race benefited the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence (WSCADV), a non-profit that seeks to end domestic violence through advocacy and action for social change. This advocacy towards ending domestic violence is close to my heart since I am a survivor of dating violence and as of today eight years later, I am thriving in a life I could never have imagine if I didn’t get out of that relationship. For a few years I have wanted to participate in this run, but it was not until this past March I could finally do it. Yes I did the whole thing by myself with my mom at the finish line cheering me on.

Sooo… I got up at an early hour to make my way to T-Mobile Park for the fun 5K race. For the past few months I have been training for this moment, and the day had come to see if it worked.

I started out some how in the section where all the walkers were instead of the joggers. By the end of the 3.1 miles I came into the finish line running my hear out. YEP!

I did do mostly power walking through most of the course, but there were times where I jogged a bit to make up for lost time. At one point I jogged-more like ride jogged- down the ramps from the top deck to the players tunnel. A part of the course ran through areas normally restricted to to the public like the tunnels below the stadium where all the player locker rooms, Mariner offices and operations are all located. I even saw people handling player uniforms before the game that night!

I did same most of my energy for running across the warning track towards the third base line where the finish line was. I think some people where a little muffed by my full on speed past them, but who cares I wanted to run the bases from home plate to third ( I know backwards!). Just having your name announced as you cross the finish line like done at the beginning of a game was to awesome for words.

I’m the one in the background!

After coming across the line, I strolled towards the bullpens to collect my prize, a medal to commemorate what I had just done. Having my mom waiting to cheer me after finishing was my “grand slam” and me finishing was my “home run” after all those years of healing.

Runner’s high was real!!!

I finished my 5K at 45 minutes and 10 seconds! A little bit slower than my last, but this time I stopped to take it all in.

Seeing T-Mobile Park all lit up by morning sunshine so early in the morning is a breath taking sight to behold, and as one person has said to me, magical-majestic. Time truly holds still in that moment.

Seats At First Base| Night At A Mariner’s Game

Weekend of July 20th was a very busy weekend not only for the Refuse to Abuse Mariner’s Care 5K, but the weekend where all baseball fans turn their attention to Cooperstown for the Baseball Hall of Fame inductees. This year the Mariner’s own Edgar Martinez was inducted into the class of 2019. For both Saturday and Sunday the Mariners celebrated this monument milestone with Funko Pop heads of Martinez, replicate plaques and a live streaming of the event to all fans in the ballpark before the afternoon game on Sunday. Oh how exciting to be a part of history-baseball history.

The game on July 20th was against the LA Angles (yep saw them in June) and this was the night to celebrate not only getting a free collectable Funko Pop of Martinez, but to celebrate all the hard work leading up to me crossing the finish line earlier in the day at the Refuse to Abuse 5K (more on it later this week). Originally I was going to go with a friend, but the friend ended up bailing on me last two weeks before show time. In the end I found someone else to go with me in the end. Hence my Dad enjoying a beer, Mariner dog and watching baseball live in action.

The Funko Pop up figuring was handed out to the first 20,000 fans entering the stadium. At one point while walking to our seats, a guy bought (yes bought) one of the Funko Pops off us for $20. I still cannot believe that happened to us! Apparently theses Funkos’ will be worth some money on the eBay market once Edgar Martinez is established in the hall of fame.

Edgar Martinez

Our seats this time were the best! I had picked them out back in May after the discount tickets were available from Refuse to Abuse 5K. The seats were along the first base line, and had a great view of the action. Throughout the game, there were so many foul balls flying into our section and at one point a person in the first row did get hit pretty hard by a foul ball. The kicker, those where my original seats before Ticketmaster timed me out for taking so long to pay! I could have ended up with a ball!!

There were a good few people who were Angles fans sitting near us. At one point there were some crazy comments going on around us over one of the players on the Angles team. Mike Trout is the name. At one point a few of the Mariner’s fans started to call him “salmon” as if something funny. There were three Angles fans with jerseys with Mike Trout’s name on them sitting in front of us.

There were a lot of crazy moments in the game, and a few moments where you could not believe you just witnessed some funny thing a player did. I have always loved baseball when it is not being serious all the time, but has some humor to it. I even got to see my favorite third baseman Kyle Seager. Man I love baseball pants!

At the beginning of the 9th inning, it was time to start making our way home before the large crowds started. At this point the game was a tie with 2-2 since 4th inning. When I got home, the score had changed to 2-6 with the Angles beating the Mariners. At least the game was good and not watching a team loose without a fight.

As you read this, by the beginning of the coming week, another Mariner player will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Maybe one day the Mariners will make it to the World Series. There is always next year!

Baseball As A Road To God|Part 4

Whew this has been one long stretch to write this series on this blog. In the last installment of this series I will be going though the last three innings to the final destination, the clubhouse. The place where baseball legends never die.

7th Inning: Saints and Sinners:

When I think of saints and sinners in baseball, the movie Sandlot comes to mind. There are references to Babe Ruth littered throughout the whole movie, and yet one scene that comes perfectly clear of saints is the chewing tobacco scene before the fair ride. “Chaw-saving for a good time.” Well you know exactly what happens after they chew it.

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Chew Scene
The Sandlot

So how does it play into saints and sinners? Think about how the group of boys look up to the ballplayers of the day (1950s) and doing the same things as they do. Perspective is often central to how a fan feels about a ball player. The very definition of sainthood serves to make human beings whom we other humans can relate. Its an induction into a honor society of those who are the best of what we can be. Baseball celebrates its heroes, the legends, and immortalize them into what is called the Hall of Fame. Same goes for religion where Christians have a number of ordinary humans who managed to before immortalized as saints (Mother Theresa).

Yet what fans think players are saints, could be in fact a sinner. Yes I went there! If ballplayers are judge on their performance on the field, they would look like saints of the sport. But when you think of it, they are simply sinners or worst, nasty people at times. Now not all are nasty, but when you hold someone up to the highest, the not so great things are swept aside. See reputations do in fact follow on and off the field as most major athletes can attests to. Baseball shines a spotlight on each player on the field and in some capacity the player is fighting their own demons or moral dilemmas. Professional baseball is played by humans, surprising-if hardly- the sport reveals the human propensity to cut moral corners. Even as far as cheat. Baseball like in religion, judging others is a flawed endeavor whether in professions or in athletics because it is done by fallible humans. Still baseball celebrates both flawed heroes and it’s saints in equal measure.

7th Inning Stretch

Anyone who has been to an intense ballgame or religious service is well aware of the intermission. At the church I attend there is an intermission between praise worship singing and the preaching in the form of going around shaking hands in fellowship. The same can be said of baseball, where as a community of fans and players go through the age old tradition of a rousing version of “Take Me Out To The Ballgame.” No announcement, no request, just rise from the seat as a congregation and break from the intensity of action on the field. Just as different faith denominations, baseball does not have an uniform version of the seventh inning stretch. Each team, each stadium has traditions in which the all moving parts come together in unity. Really the seventh inning stretch is moment of prayer, a reflection, a pause of self awareness, and setting stage for the next moments of the last two innings. A moment of stillness before the storm.

With the stretch completed…. the ball, sacred symbol and reality, remains in play for all, and the game of life.. I mean baseball game continues.

8th Inning: Community:

The community of baseball has a power to bring people together in expanding levels of relationship: parents and child, neighbor and friend, community and city, state and the nation. Think of those summer days watching a game, all assembled as one in a park sharing in the awesomeness of the moment together with like minded people. Community made up of many different groups of people in one common shared belief. Collection of rituals, tall tales, homespun charm, carefully passed down from one person to the next. Same goes for religious faith where the belief is not confined to sect, class or race. A common faith of mankind. The community of rooting for one’s own team is accessible to anyone who simply revels in the beauty and gifts of the game. As of date the game reaches not only the American people, but around the world. Japan’s love affair with Ichiro Suzuki of the Seattle Mariners and New York Yankees runs deep. The community of baseball fans in Japan would lead the Mariners to play their first game of 2019 season in Tokyo against the Oakland A’s.

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Ichiro signing for fans in Tokyo Japan
Seattle Times

The best thing about baseball is the last attraction flows from the game’s ability to bring people together to create community to foster bonds of lasting power based on shared memories and experiences. Not only from a fan base, but also from a players base as well. Think about all the players in little league, middle school, high school, and college who build a community or are a part of a everlasting community for the rest of their life. Religious communities are more than the congregations that gather for services, but a community that shares a same belief and lasting bond. Baseball communities large or small is where the spirit lives beyond what appears to eyes and mind.

9th Inning: Nostalgia:

Baseball, almost alone among our sports, traffics unashamedly and gloriously in nostalgia, for only baseball understands time and treats it with respect.

Stanley Cohen

This inning is really about the myth of the eternal return. The throwback journey from baseball’s present to its past and back again. Nostalgia is one of baseball’s defining attributes according to John Sexton. The game’s past shadows its present, and there is conjured for instruction, to prod memories, and revive dormant emotions. On the road to God, Christians pay tribute to the past while in the present. The same rituals done over millennium still being done today, each paying respect to those who have come before in form of memorials. In baseball there is one important respect to the originals, the numbers stitched to the present player’s back. Today numbers memorialized a great player, each one retired for all time on a that team or in the case of Jackie Robinson, on all teams. These numbers are plaques marking a person’s life in baseball, as plaques are laid where a love one has been called home to the Lord. The practice of retired numbers started when Gehrig courageous revelation he was suffering from the disease (Gehrig Disease) that killed him and Babe Ruth’s in 1948 when dying of cancer. Old uniforms and numbers in baseball, as is in religion, are venerated and treated with respect.

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Retired Yankees Numbers
INSC

How can this be similar to religion you ask? Mircea Eliade wrote “nostalgia for origins is equivalent to a religious nostalgia.” We as humans desire to recover the active presence of the gods; we desire to live in a world as it came from the Creator’s hands. The pure, fresh, and strong aspects of the world. See the journey home (as it is in baseball’s ultimate goal) is what Eliade called the myth of eternal return; going beyond marking an event to reliving it. A ceremony (liturgy), a memory celebrated, and religious man attempts to approach the gods to participate in being. The past and present are more clearly linked, one enhancing, informing the other. The dialog between the past and present causes us to touch a spot deep within ourselves-to thank God for what has been.

Clubhouse

Baseball is defined by wonder and amazement; it is defined by elements of faith, doubt, conversion, accursedness, blessings-all associated with religious experience-the spirituality of the game. Baseball is as in religion is a deep faith that cannot exist inless there is doubt, its handmaiden as John Sexton points out, confronting doubt is a central challenge on both religion and life from the earliest Christian theologians to the Seattle Mariners journey to a Wold Series game.

1st base is temptation, 2nd base is sin, 3rd base is tribulation. Jesus is standing at the home plate, he’s waiting for you there. Pitcher is Satan, Solomon is the umpire and the lead off man is Daniel, who gets the first hit. The game’s home run is hit by Job, wielding the ‘strong bat’ of prayer. The chorus ends with a rousing “Life is a ball game,” but you’ve got to play it fair.

Sister Wynona Carr “Life Is A Baseball Game”
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Good o’ Babe Ruth
The Sandlot

Baseball through in through is a game of life and one of the many roads to God. Each inning in a person’s life is played out in one game, whether loose or win, you have to play if fair.

After all…”you are killing me smalls!” 😉

For the whole series:
Parts: 1, 2,3

Baseball As A Road To God: Seeing Beyond the Game, by John Sexton

Play Ball Boys! First Seattle Mariner Game

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Hard to believe being a born and raised Seattlelite that I have never been to a Mariners game. I have always wanted to go and experience what all the hype was about, but there was never anyone wanting to go or ever asked me. This changed when I was asked by M if I wanted to go to a game with him and his friends. Of course I jumped on it. The game I went to was the Seattle Mariners vs. Baltimore Orioles. For some apparent reason I want to call Baltimore Orioles “Oreos’.” Yes I did receive dirty looks from a few Orioles fans when I accidentally called them Oreos’.

Our outing started with a trip to one of the many food trucks parked outside the ballpark. Between  M and his friends, this is what they both do when ever they go to a sports game. The food truck of choice was the El Camion for their huge burritos before the game dinner. The burritos were spicy and hot enough to make me not able to feel my lips after a few bites. Overall a great food truck to eat from. I unfortunately I did not sample the stadium food, especially the famous garlic fries that M’s friend told me is a right of passage for the first time you go to the game. After a while I think I could have lived without trying the fries since the smell after awhile started to become nauseating. I think I could pass on them, and go from something else next time.

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View from our seats

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Whats going on?

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View from our seats

Our seats were in the sunny outfield of the stadium in the lower half of the bottom deck. For the first three innings we were in the sunshine, which made it a little hard to see what was happening around the bases until it went behind the stadium. I will admit I have never been a huge baseball fan, and have found major league baseball to be boring (Little League has more excitement most of the time). Being between two baseball experts (both played baseball from little league through high school) made the game a little more exciting to hear with much crazy banter they both got into at times. Towards the later innings I started getting restless and may have started to drive M nuts with me asking when the 7th inning stretch was going to happen. Apparently in the middle of the seventh inning, stretching means to standup and sing Take Me Out To The Ballgame, than sit back down. Um that is not what I call a “stretch.” I think I will just chalk it up to me being a clueless baseball fan. M is slowly teaching me what I need to know about baseball, and other sports like golf (golf is even more boring than baseball!).

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Lemonade with a whole lemon!

Towards the eight inning I needed to have a lemonade. Lets say this was the only time I have ever witnessed how fast an exchange of goods can go. Within thirty seconds I had the lemonade guy give me my lemonade and my change in my hand. M and his friend commented on this, as they never seen anything like it before. This is the same lemonade sold at all the Sounders and Seahawks games and something I look forward to every time.

Unfortunately the Mariners lost the game when an umpire said one of the players did not have his foot on the base when the first base catcher caught the ball. This sent the whole Mainers fans in the stadium almost over the edge. At one point  a fly ball went into the stands in our section and a fan defiantly threw it back on to the field and that is when things started to be thrown on to the field. According to many fans, this rarely happens at the games because if you throw something on the field it is grounds of being kicked out or worse. At this time M and his friend wanted to leave before the fireworks started and to avoid a whole crowd of people leaving at the sometime. AS we were leaving it looked like people had the same idea as we did. There were crowds of people surging out of the stadium. From the backseat of the car I did see the fireworks as we left. Looked like any old fireworks display to seen at a fourth of July show. When Michael and I go home, we both were so tired from a very long and exciting day (or exciting for me mostly).

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Home plate entrance

My first Mariner game was an experience to check off my list of things I have done. I still am not sure if I want to go again. I think I would like to go to another game if the Mariners won a few more games. Will see what next year will bring.