Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Brad Emerson from Etobicoke, a teacher who made his first trip to Safeco Field this year.
“Please, just let this team win once for me this weekend.”
It was the morning of August 2nd when that thought popped into my head. Just the night before, the Oakland A’s had just completed a crushing sweep of my favourite team, the Toronto Blue Jays. I had spent the past two weeks working as a temp in a warehouse to save up for the journey to Seattle to finally get to watch them play at Safeco Field. Skid-pulling boredom was overcome with thoughts of anticipation for my upcoming trip. I didn’t tell people at my summer job that I was a teacher who was only going to be there temporarily to fund a vacation, going far enough to tell the manager that I was leaving only because I got a new job at Amazon. On my last day I took in a “Happy Retirement” cake and a balloon into the lunch room to celebrate my time at the company. It confused many. Now I could truly make it rain dollar bills in Seattle.
Long before anyone knew that this season would be a write off for the Jays, this fan and 15 of his friends, mostly from the Greater Toronto Area, purchased tickets to watch the Jays play in Seattle. By all accounts, I heard that those games were like a home game away from home. Year after year, tens of thousands of Blue Jays fans would take over an opponent’s ball park, drowning out the cheers of the home crowd. As a devoted Jays fan – a fan who remembers begging his parents to let him stay up during the final game of the 1993 World Series as he lay on the living room floor in a sleeping bag, and a fan who remembers the 18+ years after that ensued where Blue Jay fandom was few and far between – Seattle was something I had to see for myself. I was going to cross off something on my bucket list.
My trip began at the wee hours on Saturday. I was shocked to see Toronto take those first two games in Seattle as I watched them from the comfort of my living room in Etobicoke. At three in the morning, my Lyft ride arrived at my house to drop me off at Pearson Airport. After a connecting flight out of Atlanta to watch the players play, I was in the state of Washington. In total, it was a 15-hour journey, something that could have been drastically reduced by a direct flight. From the Seattle airport I hopped on “The Link” (a small light rail system), transferred over to a city bus, and then walked a short distance to the Airbnb. Hello, Pacific Northwest!
We spent the few hours before the Saturday game getting lit, as the kids would say. As we rode to the stadium in a Lyft, my ears popped like never before as we descended downhill towards sea level. The stadium looked massive, making CenturyLink Field, the venue that the Seahawks play in, seem secondary in nature. Despite feeling disoriented and not being able to hear well, nothing could tone down my excitement. Thousands of Jays fans wearing their blue gear were anxiously making their way into the stadium. Were there any Mariners fans here? Oh there’s ONE. Incredible. It was more of a Jays takeover than I ever imagined.
The playing of O Canada was the first treat. Thousands of Jays fans sang loudly and proudly as chills ran throughout my body. Walking through the crowd to get to our seats was the next challenge. It was packed! The game itself was perfect… almost. After 7 innings, Estrada was pitching a gem of no-hit baseball. He couldn’t get the no-no, but by the bottom of the 8th, the Jays were up 4-0. Then something absolutely magical happened. Something that is rarely televised. A STREAKER!!! A fully naked man took the field. Multiple security guards chased down the elusive culprit and the fans went WILD!! It was beautiful.
“Let’s Go Blue Jays” was a common, loud and clear, chant throughout the game. The Jays ended up winning 5-1 and made the weary travelled Jays fans very happy customers.
Afterwards we followed the crowd downtown where, for one night, Jays fans took over almost every spot in downtown Seattle. As a matter of fact, we couldn’t even get into the main bars because of huge lines everywhere.
Game 4, the next day, had a different outcome, but also lived up to the hype. We were now sitting in the nosebleeds facing the downtown Seattle skyline. It was a beautiful sunny day, we were shaded, and the cool ocean breeze was an added bonus. Fighter jets and antique war planes roared above the stadium, as the air show coincided with the game. The massive scoreboard (is this the biggest one in all of baseball?) and the HUGE retracting roof (who knew) were the dominant features of the stadium. The Jays swarm and chants continued even as we were down 3-1 after 6. Then, another reason for the fans to go wild. With a man on base, Aledmys Diaz hit a line drive homer to tie it up! The Jays fans went wild! This was unreal. Could we actually sweep the Mariners in a 4 game series, on their (our) home field? This is, of course, a Mariners team that has a good chance to make the playoffs. But, folks it just wasn’t meant to be. Big Nelson Cruz, a dominant hitter against the Blue Jays and the rest of the MLB, hit a no doubter to make the Mariners go up 5-3. Then came a Kyle Seager solo homer, and the Mariners ended up winning 6-3 to take ONLY one of four games against the woeful 2018 Blue Jays. The whole four-game set was a fantastic experience for Jays fans that made the trip.
Afterwards we were on to check out the shoreline, the famous market, and an alleyway that by all accounts was completely covered in… used bubblegum? Yes, it exists and it’s kind of gross, but it’s also pretty damn cool. Jays fans, this trip is a must do! Going to Seattle for a Jays baseball trip is a truly unforgettable experience.
Sorry Seattle, but it must have really sucked to be a Mariners fan this weekend! #SorryNotSorry #GoJays
This article is dedicated to my Dad and my late Grandfather who instilled in me the importance of being a Jays fan and are in large part the reason why my blood runs blue. A big shout out goes to my buddy Gagan who planned and made this trip possible. Where are we going next year, buddy? Lastly, thank you Richard Lee-Sam, a Jays Nation writer, journalism student, and most notably – a former co-worker at that pre-trip warehouse job. Thanks for giving me this opportunity to share my thoughts and thanks for being apart of my lunchtime “retirement” party.
– Brad Emerson