On average, I make it to one Major League Baseball game a year, with circumstances dictating whether that’s in Seattle, Oakland or San Francisco.
This year, the Mariners’ schedule showed the Detroit Tigers — my favorite team — would be in Seattle for a three-game set ending June 1. A Sunday afternoon game featuring the powerhouse Tigers and the underachieving Mariners? Sounded like a mismatch made in heaven.
I invited a couple of friends, Bob and Leroy — the latter a Detroit native and lifelong Tigers fan — to join me, and so we headed up the freeway early yesterday with Leroy at the wheel. We arrived at Safeco Field around noon, an hour ahead of game time, and had plenty of time to wander the stadium and eventually get to our first-row seats in the third deck.
I couldn’t have asked for a better setting: sunshine, a light breeze, cold beer, unobstructed view and the company of two great guys. (Bob and Leroy aren’t just poker buddies and fellow sports fans, they also are contributors to my annual Voices of August guest bloggers project.)
Trouble is, the Tigers didn’t do their part. Even with last year’s Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer pitching (meaning, the best pitcher in the American League in 2013), they lost 4 to 0.
Leroy and I never got the chance to celebrate a single run scored. Not a single fist bump or high five.
But, hey, even if the Tigers had won, it wouldn’t have changed how I felt about the day. Sure, we three amigos talked plenty about sports. And, yes, we enjoyed the fresh air and sights and sounds of a live ballgame. But the real treat was having three hours in each direction for uninterrupted guy talk — about food, movies, politics, race, genealogy, military service, television shows, kids, wives (or girlfriend, in Leroy’s case) and more.
By that measure, Sunday was a home run.
Photograph: Courtesy of Bob Ehlers