Open Letter To A Safeco Field Usher

This was a busy weekend for me. Attend the Mariners home opener on Friday. Hang with my mom and a couple of my siblings Saturday. Then hang with Mom back at the ballpark Sunday to see King Felix Hernandez make his first home start of 2016.

I go to a fair amount of games. This means that I–and the person I’m traveling with; on Friday my uncle, on Sunday my mom–are always well prepared. We bring a clear bag for easy searches upon entry into the park. In the bag is my binoculars and radio (important to me since I’m legally blind, and these implements greatly enhance my enjoyment of the game). Sometimes, you might be able to find a ticket or two to an older game loitering in the bottom of my bag, because I’ve forgotten, or haven’t had time, to toss the papers in my recycle bin.

Sunday I got tickets in section 147, row 10. Who knew my section marked the boundary line of the newly expanded King’s Court on days when King Felix starts? I sure didn’t. This seat location entitled me and my mom both to our own “King’s court” shirt and “K-cards” to wave like crazy people whenever Felix got to two strikes on a hitter. Mom was told to go to the team-store, take her ticket with her, and she would receive our merch.

So she did that.

While she was gone, a couple people came by and said I was in their seat. Now all of our stuff (my bag, my mom’s purse) were underneath the seats we had been occupying. I was sure Mom had simply made a mistake, and I told them once she came back and I could check the ticket for our exact seats, I would move. The people were fine with this. “We’ll go get something to eat,” they said.

The usher–the same woman who, not five minutes earlier, told my mom to go up and get the shirts, acted like she was about to blow a gasket. “You have to move! These aren’t your seats!” She then picked up my clear bag, saw the tickets for opening day that I hadn’t removed from the bag (I sat on the 200 level Friday night) and pointed out to one of her cohorts, “These tickets aren’t even on this level!”

“If you’ll give me a second to explain-” I tried.

“You need to move!”

“I get it,” I said. “My mom is-”

“Where is your mom?”

“She’s up in the team store, where you told her to go, getting our stuff.”

“Oh… and it’s probably busy in there, isn’t it?” she guessed.

“Probably,” I agreed.

Just then, a very nice woman came up to me, held out her hand and said, “I hear you might be moving down the row. My name is Cindy.”

I introduced myself and told Cindy I’d be down the row just as soon as my mom came back, and it was nice to meet her. The overzealous usher said, “What’s going on now? What’s going on?”

I felt like John Goodman in The Big Lebowski. I wanted to tell that woman to: “Shut the F**ck up, Donny!”

If the Safeco Field seating host (that’s a nicer title than I’d give this particular woman)  truly has the goal of making the Mariner experience the best in baseball, as the team claims, perhaps they could learn to respect the fans who occupy the park in which they make a wage and treat them like guests rather than unwanted trespassers.

It’s just a thought.





Eavesdropping At The Ballpark

Last month (wow, it would be last month; welcome to July, people), I wrote about eavesdropping. How the best place to do so was a restaurant. But just as good: A baseball game. Here, a quick and mostly accurate run-down of some of the things I heard from the people my girlfriend and I sat in front of at the game Sunday. My best guess is that this was some sort of a toned-down bachelor party between former college friends, a few of whom are already married and have kids, to celebrate one of the friends being married on the day of our nation’s independence (ironic much?).

A Mutual Friend Throws Away His Relationship:

“Did you hear about Mark?”

“No, what about him?”

“He slept with a co-worker.”

“Oh, Mark”, in a tone suggesting such a choice was not unexpected from the oh-so-wonderful Mark.

A Groomsman to the Groom:

“So what kind of jobs will you have for me on Thursday?”

“Just show up, man. (The bride) might want you to put streamers up, but that’ll be something we all do together.”


One of the friends’ sisters is about to have a baby with her “partner”.

“We’re just not sure how her Grandma is gonna take it. She doesn’t even know (this person is) gay.”

“Maybe it’ll be fine.”

“Maybe. She is pretty cool.”

“How old is she again, a hundred and six?”

“She’s 93, dude, and she’s pretty cool. She is Southern Baptist, though, so you never know.”


Oh, baseball games, you offer so much fodder for the curious writer. I hope you guys enjoyed this brief glimpse in at baseball-game eavesdropping.


Why Sports Matter

I’m a writer. That’s what I do, and hopefully my love of words is clear. It is my job, and yet it’s not, because, like the old cliche says, If you like what you do, it’s never work.


Hi, I’m Derek. Have we met? I’m sarcastic. Did you get that?

That cliche isn’t true all the time, is what I’m saying. Sometimes, even if you love what you do, and sometimes because you love what you do, it is very much work. Hard work.

So, every now and then, from the chaos and confusion, the drudgery of cubicle living, that boss you hope posts some stupid crap on Facebook that gets him fired, you need a break, an escape. 

That is sports.

That is why sports matter.

And, more than an escape, they help to refocus life. Your team loses a tough playoff battle, and a year that seemed like our year isn’t. It hurts. It stings. But, in the end, it’s sports, and life, in all its beauty and complexity, moves on. We’ll get ’em next year! (Just keep saying it, Cub fan. Us Seahawks fans can tell you: It’s true!)

Eager, Yet Anxious…..

This weekend was a great one! My girlfriend’s always-wonderful company. Two episodes of Orphan Black (we’re two behind; no spoilers, please!), Spud’s Fish ‘N Chips, along with some sun and reading our books in the park. And, Saturday night, another viewing of the great Seahawks conquering those Peyton Manning-led Broncos. I call that a great weekend. Hopefully, you can see why. Now I move into this next week refreshed and ready. Ready for editing.

For writers–and especially this writer–the prospect of editing is daunting. But it’s more than that. It can make me downright anxious. Am I making the right edits? What if I’m making this story worse rather than better?

This week will be one full of editing for me. Long hours. Hard choices. My editor will be turning over to me her latest notes on what I have always called “the big book”. I really can not wait to share this story with all of you, and with everyone, but I am waiting because a good book can be made a great book through editing.

Wish me luck!


Baseball-Live In The Present, But Celebrate The Past

“Baseball’s boring,” I’ve heard many people say. “Why can’t it be more like football? Football’s got action happening all the time.”

I beg to differ. Baseball isn’t boring. Calling it boring over-simplifies and degrades it. But it is the thinking-man’s sport. There is a good deal of strategy in it.

After you’ve seen a game, the overriding memory you go away with isn’t so much of the score and the plays that made that score manifest itself but of the feelings you had as the game took place around you. How the third-baseman, crossing into foul territory, caught a pop-up for the second out of the second inning feet from your seat. How another foul ball might have taken the baseball cap right off your head, if not for your trusty glove. How a home-run in the sixth, a monumental shot to left-center, put your team ahead to stay. If only the bullpen can hold it, you remember thinking. They did.

As I head to another baseball game–I’ve been to so many over the years I’ve lost count–I am reminded once again that baseball isn’t boring. It’s never been boring to me. it’s the sport that, more than any other, engages you in a battle of strategy. It’s the sport whose games are all the same, in that each will run nine innings, yet every game is different. You’re bound to see something at a baseball game you’ve never seen before, no matter how many games you’ve witnessed.

And, later, when the game is over, all over, and you’re awash in  sentimentality, because the sport can do that, too, you’ll remember the grace of players whose spikes have sat in closets for fifty years, whose smiles were genuine, whose exploits between the baselines were grand.

I know I do.

Baseball gives us this lesson: Live in the present, but celebrate the past.

California Chrome Goes For The Big Prize!

There has not been a triple crown winner in American horse racing since 1978, when Affirmed accomplished the feat. Triple crown horses belong to a very select club.

This Saturday, California Chrome, America’s new favorite racehorse, could enter that club with one more good trip down the track in New York. I, for one, am rooting for him and for his owners, DAP, which stands for “Dumb Ass Partners”. (Really, horse racing needs this shot in the arm.)

Go, Chrome, go!