Posted by: bkivey | 24 October 2017

Going to a Baseball Game

Today is the start of the annual Fall Classic, as the Dodgers and the Astros battle for baseball supremacy. It’s been a good season and an exciting post-season, and as usual my team is languishing at home. The nearest MLB team is American League, but I’m a National League guy at heart, so I’ll throw in with the Dodgers this year. In six.

Earlier this year I made the trip to Seattle to watch a Mariners game. Here is my story.

Even though I lived in Seattle when Safeco Field opened, I’d never been to a game there. I’d attended football and baseball games in the Kingdome, but the prices at Safeco were off-putting. I’d heard it was a nice ballpark.

Even from Portland it shouldn’t be too big a deal to attend a game: people did it all the time. The train leaves from downtown Portland and five hours later deposits you in downtown Seattle. If you plan ahead you can make the trip for about $100 inclusive.

If you plan ahead.

If you do it the way I did, it will be considerably more.

I found myself with a day off and wanted to see a baseball game. The Mariners were playing at home the next day. I could have bought train and game tickets online in about 20 minutes, but just for fun I decided to do everything on a walk-up basis.

Portland Union Station 21 May 2017

Portland’s Union Station. ‘Union’ is a bit of a misnomer as only the national passenger service uses it. Built by the Northern Pacific railroad, the station also counted the Southern Pacific and Union Pacific as tenants prior to Amtrak.

Portland Union Station Interior 21 May 2017

At the counter I found there was one coach seat left. This was the only train that would get me there on time, so if I wanted to go that was it. Because of the way transportation pricing works, it was the most expensive seat on the train, almost comparable to a round-trip airline ticket. But without the hassle, so still a win, I guess.

Outside, some truth in advertising:

Portland Union Station China Shipping container

All Aboard!

Union Station trains 21 May 2017

The Amtrak Cascades provides service between Vancouver, BC and Eugene, OR, but there isn’t continuous rail service between the cities. To travel end to end one must change trains in either Seattle or Portland. The train sets were built by the Spanish Talgo company and feature passive-tilt technology to allow faster speeds through curves. It’s not really noticeable and the speedometer in the car shows 75 – 80 most of the trip. Not exactly bullet train speeds, but faster and a lot more comfortable than driving.

Train interior 21 May 2017

The most expensive (my) seat on the train:

Most expensive seat on train 21 May 2017

The seats have 12V charging outlets. Food in the cafe car is better than previous Amtrak culinary efforts I’ve had, but still a struggle to match airline quality.

Tacoma Narrows bridge. The nearer span was erected in 1950 to replace the original 1940 suspension bridge. The first bridge destroyed itself in high winds a bare five months after opening, providing lessons for structural engineers since. The farther span opened in 2009.

Tacoma Narows bridge 21 May 2017

The Olympic Mountains on the Washington Peninsula:

Olympic Mts 21 May 2017

King Street station in downtown Seattle, also built by the Northern Pacific:

Seattle King St station 21 May 2017

Safeco Field is about 1K south of the station.

Seattle stadium row 21 May 2017

Alaskan Freeway on the left, downtown Seattle, Century Link Field (NFL), and Safeco. The train station is North of the football stadium toward downtown. Walking up to the ticket office, I found the cheapest most inexpensive seats available were on the 200 Club level. OK. More than I’d spent on a baseball game, but a bit late to turn back.

Safeco Field veiw from seat 21 May 2017

View from my seat. It is a nice ballpark. The Club level has its own food court, so one need not mix with the groundlings. Prices are venue-reasonable. Great view, but the only drawback was that the game was visible from the stands.

The middle of the first inning:

Safeco Field scoreboard middle 1st 21 May 2017

5 – 0. Well, that game is over. Let’s see what else there is to do.

Looking out from the Hit It Here Cafe, and several times a season a player will, in fact, hit it here. I was hungry, but service time was in excess of 45 minutes. Moving on.

Hit It Here Cafe view

The $200 hot dog.

$200 hot dog

View from right field.

Safeco Field view from right field

The Mariner’s Hall of Fame is in the stadium, and is an interesting place to spend time when the home team is busy walking batters and not hitting. I returned to my seat about the middle of the fifth inning. In the seventh after Mariner’s pitching had walked their eighth or ninth batter, the man in front exclaimed ‘I can’t take anymore!’ and left. I had to agree. I was happy to get to see a game at Safeco, but the team wasn’t getting it done that day.

I haven’t been to Seattle in about ten years, and downtown has changed some. There’s a new transit system, and the area is much cleaner than it used to be, although considerable seediness remains.

Seattle Chinatwon gate 21 May 2017

Oh, so close:

Seattle trash so close

So I spent a lot of money on a baseball game where the home nine were disappointing. But I got to enjoy two of my favorite things, trains and baseball, on a beautiful day in my favorite part of the world. On the way home I met a family in the Seattle station who’d done the same thing I had: a day trip out to see a game. The wife remarked that it had been like a little vacation.

Indeed it was.


I was sitting at the bar recently watching the ALCS when an attractive woman struck up a conversation. She was interested enough to pull up a bar stool. Somehow the question ‘Did you vote?’ popped out of her mouth.

Yes, I did.

‘Who’d you vote for?’

I voted against Clinton.

Immediate look of disappointment and condescension (but mostly condescension).

‘Oh, Blair’.

And she left.

Blade Runner 2049

Go see it. A solid, well-crafted, beautifully shot, superbly acted movie that rewards a large screen. That’s all I have to say about that.








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