Major League Baseball has designated Portland as one of three spots it is considering relocating the league-owned Montreal Expos, but don’t hold your breath waiting for the Expos or any other big-league ball club to call Portland its home. It seems like MLB is using little backwoods Portland, Ore., as a ploy to make the fine, cosmopolitan candidates of northern Virginia and Washington, D.C., compete just a little bit harder for the Expos. What a drag.
What about us in Portland, you ask. What are we supposed to do? Well, you’re not stymied if watching live, professional baseball is your passion. Living in Portland, you have options.
First, there’s always the Portland Beavers. The Beavers are the Triple-A farm club for the San Diego Padres. They play in the Pacific Coast League against teams like the Edmonton Trappers, the Tacoma Rainiers and the Calgary Cannons. And there is a little major-league flavor on the team, as Brady Anderson and Charles Nagy (trust me, they used to kick butt) add some backbone to a team that has rocketed to an amazing early-season record.
The Beavers also have some pretty rad promotion nights at PGE Park that you’ll only find in the minor leagues. For instance, June 19 is Piercing and Tattoo Night and July 17 is Tribute to Mullet Night. Mullet Night? Start growing some shag now, guys and gals, you’ve only got three months!
Singles can enjoy Bachelor and Bachelorette Nights on May 22 and Aug. 14, respectively. Conveniently, those nights are also Thirsty Thursdays, the weekly blessing where $1 adult beverages can be purchased in the beer garden on the right-field line. There might not be as many singles by the time the seventh-inning stretch rolls around, so go early.
Prices at PGE Park range from $2.99 in the Fred Meyer family seats, which are alcohol-free, to $6 for general admission tickets (read: beer garden), to $10 for good infield seats, to $25 for seats so close to the action on the field that you can see the home plate umpire’s Fruit of the Looms. All the information is online. Just log on to www.pgepark.com/beavers for schedule and ticket information.
But the real surprise for baseball fans at Portland State might be the relatively cheap cost of a trip to Seattle to watch the Mariners play at Safeco Field. Seat prices in Seattle don’t cost much more than tickets to a Beavers game. There are still the $6 centerfield bleacher seats, and the spendiest ticket, behind the dugouts and home plate, is $45. Prices in the middle are reasonable. For $12, the bleachers in left field are available, and you can have a chance to snag an Edgar Martinez homer, or for $23, you can sit behind the amazing Ichiro in right field. If you don’t want to drive, Amtrak has a train station just outside the field, and round-trip tickets cost about $50.
Once you get to Safeco, if you’re of age, check out the Outback beer garden. It is a sure-fire way to get yourself fired up for the game. I mean, nothing gets me more riled up than paying $5 for a plastic cup of marginally carbonated beer, but the sense of community there is awesome. Inside, perhaps the best deal, especially if you have the cheap-seat tickets, is the beer garden over the centerfield wall in the deepest park of Safeco Field. There is nothing like hearing the fat crack of a well-hit ball and watching it scream out toward you, only to be caught just feet in front of you by someone slamming into the outfield wall with the force of a Mini Cooper. And from the garden you can heckle relief pitchers as they warm up in the bullpens in left field.
All totaled up, the Seattle experience costs about $100 for a round-trip train ride, some good seats, and all the beverages and sausages you can handle. You can get the Mariner’s schedule and buy tickets at www.seattle.mariners.mlb.com. Amtrak’s Web site is www.tickets.amtrak.com.
Maybe Major League Baseball will eventually come to Portland, but until then, America’s Pastime is closer than you may have thought. Have fun, wear some sunscreen and if you have an extra ticket, drop me a line. I’m all packed and ready to go.