Monday, November 12, 2012

Joey's World Tour: Mr. Beartran Goes To Washington (State)

Hello, everyone!  This is your fav'rit roving reporter, culinary expert and sometimes tour guide, Joey Beartran.  So tell me, Mets fans.  Did you do anything interesting this weekend?  I spent mine taking a trip to the far reaches of the Pacific Northwest, visiting not one, but two stadiums in not one, but two sports.

That's right, faithful readers.  I went to Seattle, home of such musical legends like Queensrÿche, The Presidents of the United States of America and Sir Mix-A-Lot.  I'm sure there were other musical geniuses from Seattle, but those are the ones most commonly associated with the scene there.  They "experienced" the heights and depths of musical success.  They put their "hearts" into their music whenever they "jammed" in the Pacific Northwest.  Some of them left us too early, but I'm sure they've broken the "chains" of the "pearly" gates and are now planting the seeds to a new "sound garden" in their musical "nirvana".

But enough with the musical references.  You're here because you like sports, especially baseball, right?  So let's stop with the jibber-jabber and allow me to take you on a tour of Seattle's two stadiums located directly across the street from each other in SoDo (South of Downtown Seattle).

First up, Safeco Field, home of the Seattle Mariners.

My colleagues and I took an early tour of the ballpark, and we were promised by the tour guide that it would take no more than an hour and twenty minutes.  Hogwash.  The tour took as long as it took Steve Trachsel to finish an inning after allowing a leadoff walk.  And it wasn't like she gave me interesting information.  In fact, not only did she keep repeating the same information over and over (how many times can a person mention the 1995 American League Division Series), but she got much of her facts mixed up.

For example, prior to the birth of the Seattle Mariners in 1977, Seattle had another major league team in 1969 known as the Pilots.  But that team lasted all of one season in the land of Sir Mix-A-Lot, moving to Milwaukee to become the Brewers in 1970.  Of course, our supposedly knowledgable tour guide told us they played in 1968 and 1969.  Strike one.

She also talked about the year Ken Griffey Sr. and Ken Griffey Jr. were teammates on the Mariners, making sure to say that the father-son duo hit back-to-back home runs in the same game in 1995.  Uh, no.  That happened in 1990, when 20-year-old Junior was avoiding a sophomore slump and 40-year-old Senior was finishing out his career.  Papa Griffey had already been out of baseball for four years by 1995.  Strike two.

Finally, with all her talk about the 1995 ALDS, which ended with Edgar Martinez driving in Joey Cora and Ken Griffey Jr. in the bottom of the 11th inning to eliminate the New York Yankees in the fifth and deciding game, she claimed that the Mariners' victory in that game earned them their first-ever playoff spot.  Wow.  Even a non-baseball fan knows that the ALDS is a playoff series.  The Mariners clinched the AL West division title in a one-game playoff versus the California Angels to advance to the division series against the Yankees.  Therefore, that moment she was so proud of did not actually clinch a playoff spot for Seattle.  They had already done that the week before in a game that capped a miraculous comeback by the Mariners for the division title.  Swing and a miss.  Yer out!

Attention, tour guide.  The play depicted above happened in the playoffs.  It did not send Seattle to the playoffs.

Besides getting her facts mixed up, our tour guide didn't really talk much about the players who came through the Mariners organization.  Whereas other tours I've taken discussed that franchise's iconic players and managers (Baltimore's tour talks about Frank Robinson, Jim Palmer, Eddie Murray and the entire Ripken family), hardly anything in the Safeco Field tour focused on Mariners history.

The team store still sells Jay Buhner jerseys and T-shirts.  But not once was Buhner's name mentioned on the tour.  And this is the guy who would be the franchise's all-time leader in hits, doubles, home runs and RBIs if not for players like Ken Griffey, Jr., Ichiro Suzuki and Edgar Martinez.  Heck, Buhner's career Mariner numbers of 307 HR and 951 RBIs would rank first all-time in Mets history, a team that has been around for 15 years longer than the Mariners.  But we don't want to mention Buhner's name in a Mariners tour.  Not when the tour guide would rather make fun of A-Rod every chance she got.

Oh, and since I just mentioned Edgar Martinez, I feel like I should bring up the fact that he was also never mentioned by the tour guide other than when she mentioned his hit to end the 1995 ALDS.  This is the same Edgar Martinez who still contributes to the Seattle community eight years after he retired from an 18-year playing career, with all of those years coming in Seattle.  For Tim Bogar's sake, there's a street called Edgar Martinez Drive located right outside Safeco Field!  But no.  Everything he's done for the city and the team got him nothing more than a side note in the Safeco Field tour.

Can you tell I didn't like this tour?  I didn't.  But that doesn't take away from the stadium itself.  It has one of only four hand-operated scoreboards being used in the major leagues.  It was also the site of Felix Hernandez's perfect game in 2012, which was one of a major league record three no-hitters thrown at Safeco Field this past season (two by Seattle, one against).  Let's not talk about the tour guide anymore.  Let's just show you some additional photos, okay?

(And yes, that is former Mets first baseman John Olerud in the final photo.  He played in Seattle after leaving the Mets following the 1999 season and led them to back-to-back appearances in the American League Championship Series in 2000 and 2001.  Apparently, he's also 6'5" tall.)

Across the street from Safeco Field is CenturyLink Field, home of the NFL's Seattle Seahawks.  I don't pretend to like football, but my Studious Metsimus colleague is a big fan of that particular team, so we did a tour of that stadium as well.  Needless to say, it was superior to the Safeco Field tour.  Then again, anything would have been better than that tour...

I'll let the pictures do the talking for the CenturyLink Field tour.

Yes, Mr. Beartran did go to Washington (the state, in this case).  And yes, I did enjoy my time there.  But the next time I go to Safeco Field, I'll just go when the Mets are playing an interleague series there, when no tour guides can feed me false information and I might actually come away with a good taste in my mouth.

It's too bad they don't play baseball at CenturyLink Field.  That stadium was beautiful and the tour was exceptional.  Maybe I should watch a Seahawks game or two this season.  Hey, it beats talking about the daily David Wright/R.A. Dickey contracts that never seem to get signed.

Note:  A few years ago, I did a similar piece called "Mr. Beartran Goes To Washington", but that was referring to Washington, DC and not the state of Washington.  To reminisce with that piece, please click here.

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