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Monday, April 04, 2005

Hardball Rite of Spring

Hardball Rite of Spring

Opening Day has been one of my favorite spring rituals for longer than I care to say. It’s always a good excuse not to work, a better excuse to drink a beer and have a hot dog, and I don’t need much of an excuse to watch baseball. The days are getting longer and I don’t wear the heaviest of my winter coats much anymore. Opening Day of baseball is like the second half of the spring equinox, letting you know that the rain will end (in a few months), it’s time to look for your own ball and glove, and there will be something to watch on those horrible sports channels they force-feed you in bars.

I’m one of the lucky few people in America who can actually walk to the baseball stadium from where they live. Safeco Field, where the Mariners play, is on the other side of the downtown from my apartment, but I always walk to games. Driving is out of the question because of the lack of parking, and busses are slower than walking because of all the pre-game traffic. I could ride my bike, but I’m the only bike freak out of the crowd going with me today.

I love walking down First Avenue towards the stadium on game days. By the time I reach Pioneer Square the sidewalks are teaming with other fans on their way to find a place to have a beer before they get to the stadium. There are dozens of great old saloons in this historic district of Seattle. My favorite is FX McCory’s. It’s old and elegant with lots of varnished wood and dozens of beers on tap.

We’ll finish the beers, pull out our tickets, and head down the street to the ballpark. I love walking the last two blocks past all of the hot dog and peanut vendors, ticket scalpers, and merchandise hawkers. What, besides baseball, could be more American than selling shit? Baseball is all about facilitating commerce—just talk to any business owner in Pioneer Square. It’s not just about putting asses in stadium seats; baseball puts 45,000 extra asses on top of Pioneer Square bar stools for 82 home games each season. On about 20 of those dates during the season, one of the asses on one of those stools will be mine.

At some point in all of this a baseball game will be played.

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