Planes, Trains and Automobiles…the Mariners on the Road
The Mariners are in the midst of a four-city, two-league, 10-team roadtrip, featuring stops in New York (3 games), Boston (2 games), Cleveland (2 games) and Colorado (3 games).
The trip begins a streak of 20 games in 20 days. Major League rules are that you cannot play more than 20 consecutive days. Seattle played 16 straight days before the “off day” on May 10 that was used to fly to New York, so the team is in a tough stretch of 36 games in 37 days in four time zones.
Seattle’s travelling party is nearly 60 people: 25 players, 27 staff people (Eric Wedge, the coaches, trainers, strength and conditioning staff, interpreters, public relations, broadcasters and broadcast staff), as well as a reporter from ESPN 710 Seattle (Shannon Drayer) and from ROOT Sports (Brad Adam) and ROOT broadcast staff (a producer, cameraman and graphics person).
The Mariners travel by chartered plane (normally). On the travel day, luggage had to be at Safeco Field by 10:45 am, and two chartered buses left for Sea-Tac at 11:15. (The President was due to land at Boeing Field at 11:30 and Ron Spellecy, the Mariners Director of Team Travel, was worried about getting stuck in traffic if the motorcade took the freeway). After a five-plus hour flight (and a three-hour time change), the Mariners landed at La Guardia in New York at about 8:15. The team bused to the New York hotel and arrived about 9:15 pm.
New York is always one of the busiest stops off the field for the team. On this trip, non game related stuff included Brandon League, Charlie Furbush and Steve Delabar visiting the MLB Fan Cave and spending nearly two hours there on Friday; Alex Liddi meeting with Italian media from four outlets; Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi meeting with 20+ media in English, and another 10+ in Spanish on their first return the city, and Jack Zduriencik being surrounded by New York media to discuss the Montero/Noesi trade this past off-season.
On Sunday, the Mariners ruined Andy Pettitte’s return to the Majors after a year away from the game. (The Mariners are 12-11 against Pettitte in his career, and have beat him more than any other team in the Majors.) His first game back brought out even more media than normal in New York.
Sunday was also, of course, Mothers Day.
As part of Major League Baseball’s support for breast cancer research, players used pink bats, or wore pink spikes, pink wristbands, and all players and staff had pink ribbon stickers on their jerseys. Justin Smoak homered with his pink bat, and Charlie Furbush recorded a key strikeout of Mark Teixeira in his pink spikes.
The trip is also a “squeeze week” trip. Each year, to make the 162 games in six-months schedule work, each team must play a “squeeze week”; a week that includes a pair of two-game series, and a three-day series in seven days. Seattle will play a pair of games in Boston and Cleveland, before travelling to Colorado.
The Mariners took the train from New York to Boston, and throwback to old-time baseball. The ride from Penn Station to the Back Bay Station in Boston was a four-hour ride that dropped the team off literally across the street from the team hotel. Midway, the train had to stop for 10 minutes to allow a train travelling in the other direction to go by. The brief layover allowed time for Felix Hernandez to join the conductor in the locomotive and sound the train horn several times.
The team was only in Boston for a pair of games, a night game on Monday and a day game on Tuesday, and batting practice was rained out Monday afternoon. The inclement weather didn’t stop Rick Rizzs, Blake Beavan and Kyle Seager from taking a brief expedition inside the Green Monster.
Fenway’s famous left-field fence towers 37-feet above left field, and is a mere 300 feet from home plate. Inside the wall, players and visiting dignitaries over the past 100 years have left their autograph. Rick, Blake and Kyle added their signatures to the timeworn collection.
After dodging raindrops in Boston in an unusual afternoon (4:10 start) game, the Seattle travelling party cleared TSA security in the bowels of Fenway Park, bused to the airport and flew on to Cleveland for the next leg of the trip.