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Welcome back Raul!

26 Dec

IbanezIt’s only today that I found out that Raul Ibanez signed a one-year contract with the Mariners. I agree that it’s a strange way to spend $2.75 million in the offseason, on a 40-year-player… with sad home/road splits…and limited defensive offerings. But let’s not focus on the negative. I’m excited! I have a soft-spot for Raul, because I believe he is semi-responsible for me getting a job with the Mariners.

In July 2007, I had just returned from a whirlwind trip across Europe. It completely changed my outlook on life, and it also left me completely broke. Back in Seattle, I was hard at work as a barista, but those meager latte tips were not cutting it. I searched CraigsList and found out that the Seattle Mariners were hiring part-time employees to sell game-day merchandise. I had been to one game back in my freshmen year of college and loved it, so I thought I had nothing to lose and applied.

I got the interview and headed down to SafeCo Field. I walked around the stadium trying to find the entrance that would lead me to the front office. I looked at the large banners hanging by the home plate entrance. There was the recognizable Ichiro and a bunch of other dudes I had never heard of. One of which was Ibanez. I liked the name, and as happens with words/names I like, I started repeating it to myself in a variety of tones and accents.

In the interview, I was asked if I was a Mariner fan.

“Oh yeah, huge Mariner fan here.” I told him, lying completely.
“They’ve had a really great run at the playoffs, everyone’s really excited around here.”
“Yep, great run.”
“So, who’s your favorite player?”

I paused to think this one through. I didn’t want to say Ichiro, because that was the obvious choice. So I blurted out that odd name that had been stuck in my head. I might have even mispronounced it.

“Ib-a-nez?”
“Oh, he’s my favorite player! Some of those hits he has gotten? Did you see that one last week?”
“Er, I must have missed it…but I’ve heard about it?”

So I got the job and consequently fell in love with baseball and the Mariners. All because of Raul. I remember working Sunday day games and seeing him and his sons play catch in the outfield before the gates opened. I remember watching him getting home runs this last play-off season and feeling like he was still my guy.

Man, I can’t wait for baseball season to start again. Less then 100 days! This year I have little hope that the Mariners will make playoffs of any kind. But I still feel like I’ve got to get back to Seattle. I’ve got to get back to SafeCo field. And I must cheer Raul’s name when they play “Werewolves in London” for him.

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