Canadians Love Safeco Too

Each season Canadian baseball fans make the trip down Interstate-5 to take in Mariners games. Too often, that goes unnoticed. Dean Swanton of British Columbia talked to several M's fans north of the border while waiting in line for tickets last week, and wrote in to with their observations on the team.

In a country obsessed with the sport of hockey, and a province captivated by every single game the Vancouver Canucks play, I set out on a journey to find some Canadians who prefer to spend their hard earned dollars on the same thing I do-MARINERS TICKETS! I was pleasantly surprised to find many people in and around the city of Vancouver more than willing to make the two-and-a-half hour drive to Safeco Field to watch the Mariners play.

Now I must admit that I didn't start going to Mariner games on a regular basis until a few years ago. To be quite honest, making the trip across the border to watch a baseball game in the Kingdome wasn't exactly my description of a "great day at the old ballpark." Sitting in that dome with the artificial turf and the roof above was not the way I wanted to watch a baseball game.

I still remember the first time I ever walked into Safeco Field. It was an incredible feeling and I said to my dad, "Now this is the way to watch a baseball game!" I remember it like yesterday as the first hint of garlic from the garlic fries hit my nose. "What's that incredible smell?" I asked fans around me. I remember thinking of the line from the movie Field of Dreams where Kevin Costner's character's father asks him "Is this heaven?" Costner replies, "No, it's Iowa." I was going to ask that same question to someone sitting near me and realized that the answer would be "No, it's Safeco Field."

Now I might be going a little over the top in comparing Safeco Field to heaven, but this is one Canadian Mariners fan who thinks there is absolutely nothing better to do in this world than to be in Safeco Field watching the Seattle Mariners play baseball.

When single game Mariners tickets went on sale on March 6th, I woke up early in the morning so that I could be one of the first in line to buy my tickets and to also talk with a few of the other Canadian baseball fans in line who share my passion.

I spoke with Terry Arnett of Abbotsford B.C. She and her husband Brent will see at least four games this season. She likes to get to Safeco Field early to watch the warm up and to satisfy her appetite with a dose of garlic fries. She still pines for Lou Piniella but keeps an open mind to Mariners manager Bob Melvin's strategical moves. I asked her who her favorite Mariner player is and she quickly responded, "Bret Boone, he is the epitome of what the game is about."

Al Lewis of Surrey, B.C. plans to make the trip across the border to catch between 10-15 Mariners games in 2004. Al benefits from only a fifteen minute drive to the border which can make the drive to the doors of Safeco Field just a two-hour-and-fifteen minute jaunt.

Al says he loves the whole experience of attending a game at Safeco Field. "It's just a wonderful place to be!"

I asked him what he thought of new Mariners General Manager Bill Bavasi and the re-shaping of the ball club that has taken place since his arrival.

"I was a little suspect of the hire at first but I think he has done a really good job of improving the team over the course of the winter." He went on to add that he was really looking forward to the increased offensive production that should come from new Mariners third baseman Scott Spiezio and incoming shortstop Rich Aurilia.

Like many Washington baseball fans, Ichiro is Al's favorite player and he considers it a joy to watch him play. Ichiro was mentioned as a favorite by many, only adding to the suggestion that he is the most popular player to ever wear a Mariners uniform no matter what country you ask that question in.

Of course I found many fans that make the trip to Safeco Field for the sole purpose of watching their favorite team play. There were many Yankees fans standing in line and it seemed that if they were just a casual baseball fan with no real bias towards one particular team, they wanted to see the Yankees play and specifically to catch Alex Rodriguez in his new pinstripes.

I also noticed plenty of Red Sox hats on the heads of ticket buyers. It only confirmed that the rivalry is alive and well, even in Canada.

So it was very nice to see Canadians diverting their attention from the looming NHL trade deadline and the two-month marathon that is the NHL playoffs, and to find out that there were many who were looking forward to opening day on April 6th against the Anaheim Angels just as much as they were a Vancouver Canucks playoff game.

Mariners fever is alive north of the border!

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