In the middle of all this comes the advent of social media, and we have friends in most of the states we visit.
Two baseball seasons ago, we visited Arlington, Texas, and we met some Mets fans from the San Antonio area. When I told them we wanted to make it to a San Antonio Missions game simply to meet Ballapeño, their pepper-inspired mascot, they made it a point to mail us a stuffed critter replica.
Since then, Ballapeño Pepe Sanchez Gomez has taken a life of his own.
You won’t meet a bigger Jets fan than him. He’s not only green but their quarterback is a Sanchez, a fellow Mexican-American.
Speaking of being a Jets fan, I often say that out of all the sports, I like football the least. It doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy a game every now and then. It’s just that I prefer baseball and hockey, and well, with hockey not being played any time soon…football is going to have to suffice. Of course, the New York Rangers were my closest team winning a championship anytime in the near future. But my football Jets…uh…yeah. The furthest thing from it. And it doesn’t seem like they’re interested in winning anything, let alone a stupid game, at all. Just to, you know, torture me.
My husband, though, is a rare one. He’s a Bronx boy who roots for the Mets, and his other two teams – basketball and football – have nothing to do with one another and have to do with serendipitous circumstances. He happened to like John Stockton and Karl Malone, and roots for the Utah Jazz today as a result. (True story, is that I also used to root for the Jazz, since they were the only team to play the Bulls it seemed when I really wanted Chicago to lose).
He happened to catch a playoff game in 1983 featuring the Seattle Seahawks. It turns out it was their first. He’s rooted for them ever since.
He also celebrated a milestone birthday this year. Coupled with the Jets visiting Seattle to face his Seahawks this year, which like never ever happens, his birthday and me completing the marathon a week before (which did not go down, obviously), we figured a quick getaway to Seattle was in order.
I told Gal for All Seasons podcast regular “WHOOMP!” ThereItIs Jake that I wouldn’t mind if the Jets lost the game we were going to — I mean, a team HAS to lose right? (no one told that to San Francisco this weekend though) — but that the Jets would probably win just to fuck with me.
Well they didn’t, and even the TD they scored was completely by accident. In fact, good friend Wooooo was nice enough to send this picture to remind me of how annoying this game was for a visiting Jets fan.
When I was in high school, a music movement called “grunge” infiltrated our vocabulary and our ears. This movement was based in the Pacific Northwest region, and most importantly, Seattle. Being a huge music fan, I always made it a point to want to travel to Seattle, I just never had a reason to go. I guess that it’s unfortunate that there will be a few states in the Union that I’ll never visit, simply because there is no baseball or the Mets won’t be visiting that year.
But Seattle has baseball…so that I haven’t made it to Safeco Field at least just once yet surprises even me. But I had no reason not to go this time.
I had never followed my football team on the road. I had never been to Seattle. My husband will only turn 40 once. Therefore, it was on.
On Friday, our first full day in the caffeinated city (where I had a hard time finding a place that was non-Starbucks), we decided to do stadium tours of both Safeco and CenturyLink. On the light rail over to the stadiums area (they are little spitting distance from one another), we met some other Jets fans in from out of town. Though they lived on the west coast now (California), they were from Long Island. And up to see the Jets play.
On the CenturyLink tour, we met another couple from New York where the wife was a Jets fan and the husband was a Seahawks fan.
I thought…it was nice to see others traveling to see their teams play. No matter what side of the fence they were on.
But people were still surprised we traveled that far. Especially with the chance of one of our teams losing. Here’s my thoughts on that: one will have to lose. I travel all over to see my teams play, and there’s a 50/50 chance they may lose. I make my peace with it before I travel. There’s more to it than just my team winning at that point. It’s not like the Jets are going to the playoffs or anything that this game was a must-win.
So I got a drink out of it. A few, actually.
Jets fans are known to be a little bit on the uncouth side, a tad rowdy, and lots of fun. I know there’s also a bit of a reputation of us being douchebags (it’s true, but let’s be fair – ALL fan bases have them), so I was curious to see how we’d be on the road.
One of the things I noticed first off, though the stadiums are in an industrial and underdeveloped area of what is known as “SoDo” in Seattle (technically borders the area), there is not a lot of parking available. I remember reading a few years ago that Seattle is the worst state for traffic in the 50…I didn’t drive, but I can attest that it didn’t look pretty to drive around in some areas. Kind of reminded me of Boston, essentially one highway in and out of the city. Anyway, the next time New York fans complain about how expensive it is to park for baseball games will get smacked upside the head by me. Parking — not even in PRIME LOTS — can cost upwards of $40-50 for events. Talk about price gauging, hubby noticed that any other days (since we were there two days before the game), it’s like EIGHT BUCKS. Plus, much of the prime location parking lots are covered. Therefore, that means not lots of tailgating.
Part of the charm of going to a football game is the tailgating. In fact, when the city talked about moving the Jets to the West Side Stadium (that was never built) a few years ago, I was dead set against it. The traffic for game days would be abominable but also, where would we tailgate? It would be a travesty, really, because even if the team loses, the tailgates really are a lot of fun. Losing that is like losing the green in our team colors.
But on game days, they do make accommodations for tailgating…they actually OPEN Safeco Field on the Center Field side to the Left Field concourse and have concessions open and sell beer for “happy hour prices.” The admission is free, but of course you pay for food. Keep in mind this is also west coast time. By the time this game started, many of the east coast games had finished or were finishing. There were TVs on the games around the horn. It was a great atmosphere. We were disappointed we were not aware of this soiree, as we would have LOVED to show up earlier to experience some of the charm.
Jets fans were there. We were politely heckled, but mostly, everyone kept their cool. I can’t say it would be like that in New York/East Rutherford. I remember seeing the Jets play the Vikings in 2002, I think, and some dude wore Helga braids and Viking horns. I thought he was cool, but the rowdy drunk Jets fans heckled him mercilessly, to the point where I thought the dude was going to punch someone.
For the most part, the fans were very chill here. On both sides. I introduced myself to other Jets fans, and got some pics as evidenced above. It was like we survived a war or something, traveling to follow our teams even though there was a good chance they’d lose.
Of course, they did. Which leads me to Mark Sanchez. I have made no bones that I am a Sanchez chick. He’s my guy, and I don’t get why the blame gets solely put on him. Yes, there was that funny pic of the interception which in essence changed the game dynamic. Yes, they scored on defense, and it was a complete accident.
He’s kind of like the David Wright of the Jets, if you think about it. The kid with talent who is completely misused, but is a complimentary player, not necessarily the “star QB.” That’s the difference between a Sanchez and say, a Tom Brady. Brady can carry a team, even with shitty defense. He’s that talented. Sanchez is talented, but if you remember two years in a row, he helped bring the team the conference championship game two years in a row. To paraphrase President Obama, he didn’t build that. He didn’t do it on his own. As quickly as the Jets rose to stardom, ownership was just as quick in dismantling it by letting key players leave and injuries.
Being a Mets fan, I guess I am a little sensitive to dismantling after a successful run with no reason or rhyme
Once the game was started, we sat in a section called the Hawks’ Nest. This was in the end zone, and I guess I was expecting a bit of a louder more rowdy crowd. You see, CenturyLink is called the “loudest stadium,” and holy shit, when the “12th Man Flag” was raised prior to kickoff, it was deafening. I don’t know if the blowout was the reason or just maybe I got used to it. But while passionate, the fans were also very laidback. There were two Jets fans sitting in front of us — we were dining our guts, meanwhile Seahawks fans were talking us down from the ledge. It was pretty comical.
The first pic of the Hawks Nest is from our tour. On game day, our weather karma ran out and it misted most of the first half, to rain-rain-rain the second half. When we left, we walked in the rain to Chinatown, the next neighborhood over. It didn’t let up, even as we left that evening.
Another thing I learned on the tour was that being that CenturyLink is considered the loudest stadium, and trust me, it was, some players complain about playing there.
As I got on the elevator with some other fans (Jets fans also took the tour), I was like, “I’m sorry, but aren’t these guys professionals? ‘WAH! It’s too loud! WAH!’ What a bunch of pussies.” That got a good laugh. But it’s true! Don’t go into pro sports if you can’t take a few loud fans. /RANT
So there’s not much else to tell. The Jets lost, and looked awful in the process. The Seahawks won, and the Jets fans around me all talked about how their defense was sick. Which is funny – wasn’t that supposed to be the Jets’ MO?
We had hoped that after the game there would still be tailgates open, but I guess like most stadiums, they close down concessions after a certain time. Most importantly, stop serving beer. So we hung out in Chinatown for a few hours, had some food, had some beer, and then went home.
Experiencing a road football game was something different for me. I’ve only gone to see my baseball team on the road, and even have gone to games for the hell of it, even if my team wasn’t there. It never occurred to me to go to a football game. Hell, even my hockey team I didn’t follow around all that often. Just across the river to Jersey.
In any event, I’d definitely do a trip like this again. I’ve heard great things about M&T Bank Stadium, where the Baltimore Ravens play, and I’ve wanted to check out Heinz Field.
All I can say is CenturyLink was a great place to watch a game – very spirited, fun stuff to do pregame. Doubt I’ll be going back to Seattle anytime soon though.
I was disappointed though in the coffee and the music. I didn’t find a good cup of coffee nor did I see any places to review local bands. However, I was one of those late bloomers who didn’t appreciate Nirvana till it was too late, but I still love me some Pearl Jam. We were also greeted by the voice of Jerry Cantrell from Alice in Chains at SeaTac Airport.
I came as I was, but forgot my flannels at home.