June 25, 2002
Justice Gets a Slap on the Ass

I should save that title for a political tirade, but I just can't walk away from the chance to use it literally...

The Justice in question is David Justice of the Oakland Athletics, the slap from first base coach Mike Quade, delivered yesterday during a game at Safeco Field. I don't know much about this baseball business - as will become painfully clear - and I'm a little confused about what the slap is meant to convey. I assumed it was congratulatory, but Quade did it just about every time there was a runner on base. Doesn't a "woo hoo you were walked!" slap devalue a "woo hoo a base hit!" slap? Maybe I've got this congratulatory thing all wrong. Maybe they were just "hey, nice to see you!" slaps.

I need more experience to make sense of the nuances. I didn't go to any games last season, although I did go to a few in 2000 (I was dating someone with season tickets. First date: Mariner's game. Second date: Mariner's game. Final date: Mariner's game). I thought I knew enough to at least get into the stadium without a hassle, but then I hadn't been to any kind of stadium event in the new world of tighter security.

Stadium Entry Mistake 1: I brought a bag, not realizing that meant I got to stand in a special, extra long inspection line. The line was, perhaps not surprisingly, mostly composed of women (grrrr...just when they finally start putting enough stalls in the women's rest rooms). I stood in line with my friend Tracy, who had invited me to the game and was very patient with my silly questions. Later on when I noticed that I hadn't heard the national anthem at the start of the game, and I asked Tracy whether they still sang it. She told me, "I think we just missed the national anthem - they were probably singing it while we got our purses searched."

Stadium Entry Mistake 2: I had a bottle of water in my bag. The inspector guy told me to throw it away, but a woman behind me piped up and said I could pour out the water and keep the bottle. Inspector Guy looked grumpy, but didn't disagree. So after looking around for a second I walked over to a damp spot on the concrete - it seemed to be the designated place for this apparently common activity - and was told by Grumpy Inspector Guy to pour it into a nearby trash can instead. I complied, but nevertheless was given a stern if incoherent lecture about running water and mud. What kind of crappy water soluble concrete did they use to be so worried about mud? And I know this is counterintuitive for a Seattlite, but on sunny days liquids really do evaporate here. I didn't argue, but as Tracy pointed out the janitorial staff must really appreciate the extra weight in the trash cans.

More about lines: I guess this is for the sake of, um, courtesy rather than security, but they've also started a new practice of holding people at the entrance of an aisle until the completion of an at-bat. The theory is that it keeps the already-seated from missing out on the action when people block the view while making their way to their seats. It doesn't work, though, because by the time Tracy and I climbed down 20 rows, the batter was in place and swinging. So as much as I disliked the gratuitous line and pointless waiting, I found myself enjoying the reversal of privilege: the practice actually benefited the people in the higher, cheaper seats, while pretty much ensuring that the people in the pricier seats would be inconvenienced. And how often does that happen?

Another nifty thing: little kids wearing bright yellow foam hands the size of their entire bodies.

Oh, and the hand soap in the women's rest room was totally cool, not just because it was "lotionized" but because inside the translucent gray dispenser you could see the vacuum sealed plastic bag of of soap, which collapsed on itself in a crinkled, brain-like sort of way - and it was called Dura View! It looked like a brain, and it was called Dura View! I desperately want to believe this was a deliberate choice by the fine makers of this quality hand soap.

Watching baseball was also fun.