Saying goodbye to Seattle wasn’t easy.
Saturday was the last day of the trip on the American side of the border, so I went for one last run around Woodinville and tried to soak in its beauty. I immediately ran into a couple of beautiful horses as I left Conor and Chery’s house, making me pause for a moment to wonder why we would ever leave, but then I had to run up a giant hill so I lost some of that sentiment. That’s pretty much how it works for me.
I did a quick run around the neighbourhood, and saw an awesome political campaign sign playing off of the movie Napoleon Dynamite, so of course I took a picture. It looked like the homeowners were inside so I was kind of worried they would see me taking pictures of their house, but they didn’t come outside and yell at me or anything, so that’s a win for everyone.
Before getting ready to leave for the day and starting to pack up my belongings, I got a little bit of work done, but mostly just prepared for the interview I had set for the afternoon with SuperBowl champion, Seattle Seahawks tight end, Toronto Blue Jays signee, and former Canadian Junior National (baseball) Team member Luke Willson.
When I was set to head to Seattle I made an attempt to obtain media credentials for the week I was going to be there, before the Seahawks pre-season game against the San Diego Chargers, which I chronicled here.
It was seemingly next to impossible to get credentials however, and I’m sure part of it could have had something to do with the fact that I was writing for a baseball entity, on top of the little tiny fact that the team became world champions just a few short months ago.
But I thought it would be worth a shot to try and talk to Luke anyway. I had already failed at trying to interview him once two years ago, when I arrived at Blue Jays extended spring training just after he had left to go back for his senior year at Rice University, so I didn’t want that to happen again. I did get a chance to speak with him earlier this summer when he hosted a charity event in support of lymphoma research and Kevin Siddall, which you can read here, but I still wanted to talk some baseball with the guy. So when I messaged him and told him my media scenario and said that I wanted to try to speak with him in person if possible – being in Seattle and all – he made sure it happened.
The 24-year-old tight end agreed to meet me on his off day, so I travelled down the road to Bellevue to a coffee shop of Conor’s choosing (I am thankful to have had help, though Conor’s first suggestion was to head to place with poutine) called Café Cesura, and ordered the only thing on the menu that looked remotely appealing – a lemonade – and waited for Luke. It was a beautiful day so we sat outside as I fired off questions and he ever-so-kindly-and-patiently answered every last one. He was fantastic. We talked baseball, chatting about players he’d teamed up with in the past and me attempting to update him on where they are now, we talked SuperBowl, the experience, the ring, the parade and everything that goes along with it, and we talked a little bit about home and other things of that nature. All in all, I took up almost an hour of Luke’s time, probably too much but he was too nice to say so.
From there I headed back to Conor and Cheryl’s place to pack up my stuff before we, along with Nathan, Aly, and my mom, spent our last night all together at – what else? – a baseball game. Earlier in the week I brought up the idea of going to an Everett AquaSox game, mostly because I really wanted to buy one of the team’s hats after seeing the one James Paxton had up in his Seattle Mariners locker from pitching in one rehab game for the team, and everyone eventually agreed to go. My mom was the last holdout, hoping to get back to Vancouver sooner than later, but she caved. Love you, mom.
I also found out just a couple of days earlier that Spruce Grove, Alberta native Logan Seifrit had been called up to the AquaSox roster, after I saw him a couple of months ago with the Arizona League Mariners and wrote about it here. So of course I wanted to take the opportunity to potentially try to talk to and write about another Canadian. In the end, I didn’t get a chance to talk to him, but it was worth a try.
Before we drove to Everett, the six of us stopped at Panera for dinner. We didn’t want to be late to the game so we had to find something quick and easy, and it seemed like the answer to that question. I made the mistake of ordering something I had never tried before, and I won’t say what it was because I don’t want to start any issues with Panera (just in case, you know?) but I didn’t like it. It was not to my satisfaction. But my main course was accompanied by their broccoli cheddar soup, and I will say that was delicious.
It didn’t take long to get to the ballpark in Everett, so we got a chance to look around a little bit before the game started. The facility is shared by some local high schools, or at least that’s what it looks like, so behind the third base side of the stadium is a football field, also where the baseball teams warm up and where the clubhouses are. Behind home plate is a large open space, and for the game it was covered with stuff for kids, bouncy castle-like structures and other similar things.
On our way through the park to get to our seats, I caught a quick glimpse of the lineups for the night and happened to see a familiar Canadian name starting for the Vancouver Canadians, who the AquaSox were hosting on Saturday night. Somehow I had missed that Peterborough, Ontario native Mike Reeves was with the team.
I’ve seen Reeves multiple times this season, first writing this story from spring training, then this one from his time with the Dunedin Blue Jays, which I actually wrote completely based on things hitting coach and fellow Canadian Stubby Clapp said about him because the catcher had just found out he was moving and had other things to think about before an interview with me, and then I wrote this after seeing him with the Lansing Lugnuts. I was surprised to learn that Reeves was with Vancouver, but happy I would probably get a chance to talk to him when I return to Nat Bailey Stadium next week.
From the visiting team clubhouse to the field in Everett, players have to walk through a crowd of fans, which I found incredibly interesting. As the Canadians started to hit the field, I saw Reeves making his way through the crowd and signing some autographs. I stopped him and we chatted quickly before he took to the diamond. He told me he had just been with the team for a couple days, an unexpected move. He asked how long I was staying, I said just for the game, and I mentioned I would see him in Vancouver, too.
The game started a half hour late, with the home team announcing that it was because the Canadians got in late with some travel issues. My assumption is that they meant the border held them up, and I was shocked that the team wouldn’t take that into account when travelling anywhere. I’m actually sure they do, but I guess it didn’t work out on Saturday.
Before the delayed matchup began, Nathan introduced me to a Blue Jays scout and a crosschecker, one of whom would be headed to Vancouver when I was going to be covering the Canadians, so we would cross paths again. It was cool to talk to them a little bit, though I did get one question I thought was strange. Apparently on the show How I Met Your Mother, the Canadian character reveals at some point that Canucks are afraid of the dark, so the scout asked me if that was true. For those who are unaware, no, that is not true.
I was a little bit disappointed during the national anthems. The flags were presented by the colour guard – color, I guess – and there was no Canadian flag. I got pretty upset and made it clear that I was adamant I didn’t think the anthem should be played without a flag, so as the Canadian song started Conor was nice enough to bring up several red-and-white flag looks on his phone, hold them up for me throughout. It made me laugh through pretty much the entire thing, so I ended up being ruder than the people who chose not to have the actual Canadian flag anywhere. My bad.
We had a lot of fun at the game, and it was great to be a fan. I got to cheer for the Canadian players, though I didn’t know what to do when Seifrit came on in relief and faced Reeves, and we ate the greatest and freshest kettle corn in all the land, and laughed a whole bunch.
It was far less awesome to depart at the end of the night and leave Conor, Nathan, Cheryl and Aly, but I am glad we got to have time all together and do a bunch of great things throughout the week. As a wrap, during my time in Seattle, I got to head to two Mariners games, the Seahawks pre-season matchup, the AquaSox game, plus do some sightseeing downtown to visit the Space Needle, ride the Monorail, head to Pike Place and make this fantastic video at the Post Alley Gum Wall, among other fun stuff. It was an amazing time and I hope to see all of the aforementioned people again soon.
I will leave this post on that note, and refrain from talking too much about how long the border took and how unpleasant that was. The trip was a huge success so that part can be skipped. But for now, back to Vancouver. Au revoir, America.