For a long time, going on 30 years of Mariners fandom, I've always wondered what it was like behind the scenes at a Mariners game. What goes on in the stadium before the game starts?
Well, today I got to find out. Nothing over the top or major here, just a peak behind the curtain from someone who was freaking out inside as he took it all in.
For the first time, and hopefully not the last, I got to enter T-Mobile Park as a member of the media. It wasn't full access, but I still got to check out a lot of cool stuff (even if I wasn't supposed to).
You're actually allowed into the stadium 5 hours before game time. Rolling in around 2PM for a 640PM start, you check in and get your credentials and head to the press box. They actually have assigned seating, which makes sense. Guys like Divish and Brock get great seats, right in the front row with full windows. Lowly part-time media people (hi!) get sat in the corner with said corner in the way of your view, as well as much smaller windows with big blind spots on them.
Looking out on the field, I was surprised and not surprised at all to see Ichiro out there fielding early batting practice for some of the guys. He looks spry as ever, and much more in shape and athletic than you would expect from someone who is quickly approaching his 50th birthday. Not only that, I got to see the team dog, Tucker, running around playing fetch on the field. He was super friendly, quickly finding anyone with treats and ignoring those without.
I saw Wong, Trammell, an absolutely jacked Tom Murphy, and D-Mo out there putting some impressive swings on balls and getting that extra work in.
I made my way through the dugout, peeking in to look at the batting cage underneath the field, although no one was in there yet, either hitting out on the field or hanging out in the clubhouse. I did see something pretty neat on my way down though.
The Mariners have the trident posted up on the wall down the hall from the dugout, making it easy to grab and bring up to the dugout should anyone go deep.
I hung out for a bit watching Teo and Piedra play pool. France was walking around in good spirits despite being hit in the wrist yesterday. Plenty of guys were just chilling at their lockers, scrolling on their phones, or hanging out chatting with the media vets. Tucker was roaming around, and everyone was just relaxing.
I was too, until I found out that my level of access didn't allow me in there. Oops.
Back to the field I went, stopping by to definitely not take a picture with the trident. That would be a no-no. Especially for someone who already got a talking to.
It's so cool seeing all the big Mariners names you know about wandering around and chatting. Angie, Jen, Divish, Brock, Sims, and Rizzs. They're all there for Servais's media session in the dugout, and then people start milling around again, either speaking with Scott or heading back to the booth.
The players take the field WAY before the gates open. They dink around playing catch with a football, and then start getting a bit more series with defensive drills and some more BP. Everyone goes through their drills until about 2:15 before the game starts, and then they all disappear. The visitors come out, and soon after you start to see fans trickle in.
It's pretty cool being on the other side of things, but really difficult to not fanboy out when JP, Jarred, or Julio give you the head nod and say whatsup. Back to the pressbox I go, to silently scream in my head like a 13 year old girl at a concert.