I woke up today feeling older and never so much better - New Found Glory
The real reason for this trip was in-fact for my birthday. I have always made it a tradition to take a week off and i would typically stay in, but with the stress of my new location at work and at home, the last place I wanted to be was at home. I didn't know it at the time, but I just caught the travel bug. What started as a simple goal to visit each MLB stadium now transformed to see the world.
For a change, I DID have a game-plan for the day. I booked a stadium tour at noon and had a ticket to the game that night row 25 behind the plate. I started the day with a biscuit and eggs at Biscuit Bitch which I covered in hot sauce. Promptly stuffed I made my way to the ballpark via foot remembering the way from my first night going from King St Station to Downtown.
I knew I was getting close as I saw the roof of CenturyLink Field appear behind the buildings. Following the directions on Google Maps I found myself walking right alongside the massive structure and could only imagine how energetic and active this area would be on a game day. Turning the corner onto Occidental Ave I can see that straight ahead is the baseball only facility I was looking for, Safeco Field.
I arrived to the Team store and checked in for the stadium tour on the 2nd level looking over MLB authenticated memorabilia. Noticing my A's hat, the tour guide made a joke about how terrible the Coliseum is and I made a comment about how the M's have missed the playoffs since 2001 (I'm great a making friends). We toured the stadium, learning facts about the building (designed by a Seattle based firm), team history (0 World Series Trophies) and explored the inner guts of the stadium until we were led out onto the field. It's pretty amazing to stand on the dirt warning track of a MLB stadium, the grass is absolutely perfect, each single blade cut to the exact height. We toured the dugout and I was stopped from making a call to the bullpen in left field. After we left the field we made our ways through the ballpark, visiting the Press Conference room, the Diamond Club Lounge, finishing in the Press box where we found the framed dent of a foul ball and I stole the Media Wifi password.
Before the rest of the stadium opens their gates, the centerfield gates open 2.5 hours before first pitch, allowing fans to enjoy batting practice (and try for a home run) in centerfield and offers happy hour prices for drinks. I watched a kid get nailed in the gut during batting practice. He was behind about 7-10 grown men with gloves reaching to catch the Batting Practice Home Run and all of them missed it and the poor kid probably thought he'd be safe behind them and wasn't. He got the ball and held his gut trying everything he could do to keep from crying. I took this as a good time to walk away in case I couldn't hold back my laughs and went to the concessions to try the authentic Oaxacan chapulines (chili-lime seasoned fried grasshoppers). The grasshoppers weren't exactly delicious, but it was a new experience. They tasted like a bit sunflower seed, if you ate the shell and seed, a bit too salty for my tastes.
I found my favorite spot right by the bullpen, setting my beer down on the counter I would watch the pitchers warm up for the game. I made conversation with other fans nearby who were also from out of town, talking about our favorite ballparks and about our favorite teams. Before the game started it began to softly sprinkle, looking up I started seeing the roof close. A fun fact about the roof, it doesn't seal the ballpark, it works like an umbrella so even with the roof closed, the ball still plays like an open air stadium. The game itself wasn't memorable, nothing to write home about, but it was pouring at the conclusion of the game so I uber'd home and slept like a old man at 32.