Kids in the Northwest have been back in school for a few weeks, which means that undoubtedly cliques have been established. You’ve got your jocks, nerds, cross-country kids, meatheads, and goths all awkwardly co-existing under one roof. In honor of this annual occurrence, let’s look at the cliques that have been established over the past 16 seasons at Safeco Field:
The Giveaway Enthusiasts– They may not know who’s pitching tonight, but by god they got to the gate in time to claim their Ryan Franklin Fanny Pack. After tonight it will sit next to the Kuma Bear Hat, Felix Bobblehead, Edgar Bear, and Gutierrez Fly Swatter. After it gets a bit chilly in the 6th they will throw on their Mariner flannel from last season for about an inning before heading out around the 8th. Part hoarder, part baseball fan, this loyal cohort of fans will need to check the paper the next morning to see who actually won. The giveaway lovers are in baseball heaven in Seattle, as they get a new piece of obscure, cheaply made memorabilia just about every week at the giveaway-mecca that is Safeco Field.
Garlic Fry Gurus – Isn’t it nice they let you watch a baseball game at the Garlic Fry restaurant? With about 3 cloves loaded onto a few pieces of potato, you can smell garlic fries throughout Safeco Field. After walking through the turnstiles, these spud sniffers immediately dart to the shortest line they can find, where they drop about $80 on a couple beers and their first course of coveted fries. If they aren’t growing garlic out in that garden in front of the batters eye, somebody needs to get fired.
The Pen – Not far from that cute, weird little garden (did Mike Cameron give permission for that to be put in front of the batters’ eye?!) in center field are where the infamous faithful of “The Pen” hang out. This college house party style atmosphere is great if you want your personal bubble invaded from all sides and don’t give a damn what’s happening on that patch of grass just over that fence. But after a couple Coors Lattes you better ready to talk shit to that guy warming up in the actual pen. If you’re in this clique don’t bother heading to your actual seat (ever), because in those things you are forced to face the field.
Too Cool For the M’s– Have you lived in Seattle the past ten years but are still too cool to root for your home town team? Well this clique is always accepting applications. You will likely specialize in the Red Sox, although the Blue Jays and Yankees are other options, too. So just dig out that Big Papi jersey (you will soon learn he’s retired) and watch Fever Pitch before heading to the park. Odds are you can find someone else who’s uncle ALSO lived in Boston for a couple years after college. What are the chances?!
The Suits – People in suits in are usually in suites, which suits them. Their company is picking up the tab, under the assumption business deals are happening and relationships being formed. These dudes show up and put their baseball knowledge on display to impress their clients. The self-appointed baseball experts know it all, and, in their minds, could teach Jerry Dipoto or Scott Servais a lesson in how to build a winning ball club. Hell, they’d even be on the field playing for the Mariners if they hadn’t thrown their arm out in that state championship game.
The Autograph Seekers – Armed with their giant binders and obscure collectables, you will need to arrive especially early at Safeco if you want to join this clique. They are waiting for the guys to finish BP so they can get that Taylor Motter rookie card signed. To be successful in this clique you also have got to be willing to travel a bit. Hey, nobody said it was easy. The wait staff at TGI Friday’s in Peoria knows you by name, as you feast there nightly after a hard day of scouring the practice fields of Spring Training, looking for that most recent draft pick. But damnit, it’s all worth it for that Richie Sexson signed mini bat and Jeff Clement game-used batting glove.
Mix in a few kids, some nice old ladies with their knitting projects, and the people that just want to do “The Wave”, and you’ve got yourself a nice little crowd. So the next time you’re walking north through the beautiful streets of SODO to avoid paying $40 for parking, keep your eye out for these cliques of Safeco patrons. Just as parents tell their awkward middle-school kid on the first day, don’t feel pressured to join. Maybe just watch some baseball for a while and root for the M’s.