Mariners find a home away from home

Ichiromania hit Portland for the first time ever last Friday when the American League West champion Seattle Mariners tussled with their Cactus League “roomies,” the San Diego Padres.

But while many of the PGE Park-record 19,778 fans showed up for a chance to see — maybe even meet — the reigning AL MVP, Ichiro Suzuki, the majority dropped in for a taste of what Major League Baseball in the Rose City might feel like.

The Padres, who share their Peoria, Ariz., spring training facility with the Mariners, won the meaningless Opening Day tune-up 3-1. But in a couple years, no one will remember the score or even the result. All they’ll talk about is how the “major-league record holder for wins played in our own backyard,” and how “I caught a foul tip off Bret Boone’s bat!”

“Remember when Kazuhiro Sasaki smiled at us? Remember that tip of the cap from John Olerud? Remember how our city turned into Disneyland for a day?”

I can’t be certain if anyone took away these exact memories, but in the three hours I spent at PGE Park, I could tell that the spectacle of the event far outweighed any pitch counts, earned-run averages or squibbed grounders on that day.

Even the diehard stat junkie was content to just kick back and take in the experience.

If only for nine short innings, the fans of Portland were given a chance to bask in the infectious goodwill brought about by the Great American Pastime. Everyone — even the security guards and alcohol enforcement officers — had smiles on their faces that day.

My theory that “baseball is a unifier” has now been granted even more credence. But my experience wasn’t limited to inside the ballpark. The entire city had a buzz about it on Friday — and I’m not talking about the $6.50 pints of Full Sail.

The blue skies and 60-degree mercury may have contributed somewhat, but Portland felt like Seattle does during the playoffs — when baseball is the first subject on everyone’s mind. “Are you going? Do you know anyone with tickets? Who do you think will win?”

The city of Portland was in a verifiable frenzy — the kind of chaos you associate with a wedding, bar mitzvah or children’s birthday party.

The three-month build-up was so great and the excitement so genuine that it was hard not to imagine, “what if?”

What if MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and his board of trustees granted Portland a permanent dose of this infectious enthusiasm?

What if Portland baseball fans had another I-5 rivalry to look forward to each year? Afterall, the AL West could use a fifth team.

What if PGE Park were transformed into the next downtown baseball mecca? It could happen.

But in the meantime, let’s just hope it doesn’t take the Mariners another 18 years to make their next pilgrimage to the Rose City.

Last Friday proved that Portland deserves an annual dosage of Ichiromania.

Hopefully, Bud was taking notes.

Latest stories

Latest video:

Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

Log in to comment

News from our Community Partners