Sharing the American baseball culture

Sports commentary -- Part 2 of "A game unlike any other"

The shock has worn off. The awe has subsided. A week has passed, and I have finally returned to normal after last Saturday’s epic visit to Safeco Field.

But because that night was so unforgettable and so unbelievably fantastic — like something out of a movie for me — I felt it deserved another look.

I merely skimmed the surface of my Safeco experience in Wednesday’s article, touching on only a few of the elements that made Saturday’s game with the Red Sox “the night of all time.”

My experience went so far beyond sitting next to the Mariner dugout and walking onto the field during the game. In fact, some of my best memories of the evening don’t even involve either of the two teams on the field.

Last Saturday was special for me on multiple levels. Not just as a member of the media, but also as a friend. I was able to show my buddy Alejandro — who arrived last week from Venezuela — what the American baseball culture is all about.

You should have seen his eyes light up when we passed through the turnstiles and walked around the main concourse. (Come to think of it, I’ve even seen my fair share of Seattleites react the same way during their first visit to Safeco).

“Is that real grass?” he asked. “$6 for a beer? 46,000 people, you said? Ná guará!”

As a matter of fact, “ná guará” may be the best word to sum up the experience for both of us. It’s a word that few Spanish speakers outside Venezuela have even heard of. But when something is so cool that it requires extra emphasis — like saying “duuuuuuude!” — that’s the only word you can use.

So how do you think Alejandro reacted when I told him I had talked to Freddy Garcia and Carlos Guillen in Español?

“Ná guevonaaaaá!” (An even more emphatic version of ná guará that’s not as appropriate at the dinner table.)

However, had Alejandro not been with me at the game, I may not have summoned up the courage to talk to these two Venezuelan nationals. But because I wanted to make his first trip to Safeco even more unforgettable, I figured I’d try my hand at an autograph or two.

“Hey Freddy, come here,” I said to him in Spanish. “I’ve got a buddy here in the stands who arrived from Venezuela just yesterday. Is there any way you could sign this piece of paper?”

“Well, I’m kind of in the middle of a game,” Freddy responded. “What was his name again?”

Not wanting to overstep my media boundaries, I said, “Well, maybe I’ll catch up to you in the tunnel after the game.”

He said, “Sure, that’ll work out better.”

Having already surpassed my expectations for the night, I didn’t make it back down to the media tunnel. Mostly, I couldn’t wait to tell my Seattle friends about what had just happened.

The one person who was even more awestruck than Alejandro or me was my buddy Gabe, the definition of a baseball junkie. He lives and dies by the Mariners and would give his pinky toe to be where I was on Saturday.

But ol’ Gabe may have to wait a while for his chance to meet the Mariner guard. Alejandro has priority while he’s visiting the United States.

“Will we go back this summer?” he asked me.

“Sure,” I told him, “but next time, I’ll let you ask for your own autographs.”

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