Well I finally had enough of the Mariners and drove down to Tacoma to watch the Rainiers beat the Reno Aces 8-2 tonight, and it was fun! Yes, that is right, watching baseball can be fun, especially if the team you are rooting for wins and the atmosphere is relaxed and welcoming like it was at Cheney Stadium tonight.
I joined 7,571 other baseball fans on family night and got to see a great game featuring the first-place Rainiers who know how to score runs and even hit the long-ball.
I have not been to Cheney Stadium since Carlos Guillen was down there in 1998, and as far as the stadium and fans attending, not much has changed. Cheney stadium is 50 years old and has seen many a young prospect as well as fading veterans play on its well-manicured field.
The crowd was primarily families and working-class, and they know how to have fun. The place was full of youngsters gathering autographs from the players and older fans actually laughing and having a good time. Sure, the PA guy messed up a few names, and the electronic screen did not always match the correct numbers up with the right players, but I felt I was in a time-warp putting me back into the '70s.
The Rainiers brought up a young pitcher named Yoervis Medina to make his AAA debut tonight and he went 5 and 2/3 innings of three-hit, shutout ball while his offense, unlike the Mariners, gave him run support. As a matter of fact, the Rainiers look like they could beat the Mariners as far as position players go.
I got to see Greg Halman hit his 24th homer in the second inning, along with home run No. 15 for right fielder Mike Wilson, and No. 13 from Matt Mangini, who I would swap for Jose Lopez tomorrow.
Of course, the main event was watching young Justin Smoak, recently demoted, drive in a run with a screeching shot past third in the big eighth inning as part of a four run rally. All the while I was chatting with the friendly couple in front of me who have had season tickets since the '60s and even gave me a couple of tickets for Tuesday’s game.
Yes, this was a different experience from fighting the traffic to get into Safeco and paying $65 for a box seat. In fact I paid $25 for a seat two rows back behind the Reno Aces and felt like I was sitting in the dugout. The food is a little cheaper, though heavy on the carbs, but so what this team knows how to win games and the crowd was a lot friendlier and more into the game than I usual experience at Safeco.
I sort of felt like I was skipping school while I was watching this game instead of painfully going over today’s 4-0 loss to Minnesota and trying to create another clever post for a team that has sucked my creative juices dry.
It was interesting to watch Mike Sweeney dig in at the plate like usual. Sweeney walked three times, stole a base, and delivered a clutch two-out RBI in the third. He looks healthy to me and I really am starting to believe that Jack Z. is leaving him down there to help groom some of the younger guys in a winning environment.
I guess there is no point in bringing up guys like Dustin Ackley into the toxic morass of the Mariners' 2010 season, so Jack Z. has his little incubator of baseball players project going on down in Tacoma. Actually most of the starters in the field either have been or should be up with the big club this year.
So take my word for it and head down to Tacoma and enjoy the game of baseball in a fun, winning environment while it lasts.