Saturday, May 07, 2022

Endless Eating with the Mariners

They were having an irresistible free day at the Pacific Bonsai Museum. I was really impressed.

I've seen a lot of bonsai, in Japan especially, but I don't think I've seen such a variety of tree species before. The museum claims that this is "one of the most botanically diverse bonsai collections anywhere". 

Chinese Hackberry, Oki
In training since 1962

Bonsai artist Ben Oki was an inventive man and generous teacher who knew how to draw out the best in his students and his trees. In 1858, Oki began studying bonsai with John Naka. Oki became known for his lightning-fast, detail-oriented writing technique as well as his rugged aesthetic. His popularity as a bonsai artist grew over time and he began to attract his own students. Later, he went on to serve as the Founding Curator of the bonsai collection at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California.

At one time, this Hackberry tree was a "volunteer" that had grown up in Oki's yard, too close to his house. The four-inch stump had bonsai potential, so it was transferred to a container for development. Today, after more than 50 years of training, it has an ancient-looking hollow trunk and beautifully formed branches and twigs.

Hinoki Cypress, Mahoney
In training since 1983

Hinoki cypress has become a popular garden tree in the U.S.; this tree was originally field-grown for that purpose. Its discovery by the artist Hal Mahoney in 1983 in a shipment of 5-gallon nursery stock was followed by six years of intensive "clip and grow" training before he finally placed it in a bonsai container.

Attentive trimming created a feeling of good proportion, and thinning and wiring the branches after its arrival here revealed more of the graceful, curved trunk. The well-balanced rootage completes the composition, creating a feeling of age and stability. This tree is a "textbook example" of what can be achieved when an artist takes average material and turns it into something very special with dedication and cultivation. Mahoney achieved a perfect trunk taper from base to tip through rigorous growth management.

After we had our fill of tiny trees we headed over to T-Mobile Park for a Mariners game. After the fun times we had with Wing and Joel in the fancy all inclusive seats at Busch Stadium I thought it would be cool to try out the Mariners' inclusive Diamond Club seats. We got to skip the lines and enter the stadium through the press entrance.

Ken Griffey Jr. is one of the main gods in the Seattle sports pantheon. He was in a different league than my St. Louis Cardinals so I don't recall ever seeing him play, but oddly he still holds a big place in the baseball memories of my youth.

If memory serves I actually borrowed Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball for the Super Nintendo from my buddy Justin Rossman. I was never a super sport-watching kid but I played the absolute crap out of this game. This 1994 masterpiece is also probably when I first became aware of the Seattle Mariners in the first place. Seattle may as well have been Tokyo to me at the time. 

Speaking of which, in 1992 the Mariners were not doing so hot, and the team was being shopped around and in danger of being relocated away from Seattle. Washington Senator Slade Gorton contacted Nintendo and asked if they were interested in buying the team. Later Gorton got a phone call from Minoru Arakawa, the head of Nintendo of America and son-in-law of Nintendo owner Hiroshi Yamauchi:

“Mr Senator, my father-in-law says Seattle and the state of Washington have been very good to us. We have done extremely well here. We believe we owe something to the community. If you need $100 million to buy a baseball team, you’ve got $100 million.”

Amusingly when Yamauchi said the purchase was just a show of goodwill, he meant it. He didn't seem to really give a crap about the team otherwise. He never attended a single game, even when they traveled to Tokyo to play a series of exhibition games, and he never even visited Seattle after the purchase.

The interesting story of why the team still plays in Seattle likely explains why some of the signs had Japanese subtitles.

The food was pretty good.

I was especially excited about the candy wall.

I thought it was funny because they had a lot of old-timey baseball pictures all over the walls, but the team only dates back to 1977. So the pictures were all of other teams.

In true Seattle fashion they had a whole coffee section with a barista.

Lydia had an affogato, a scoop of ice cream with a shot of espresso.

Some of the tables of people eating were in the press room.

You know I continued ordering food and drinks after sitting in my seat.

White Russians

Lydia lost all moral bearings and started pouring candy on top of her popcorn. She can be a real sicko when she thinks no one is watching.

It looks like they are going to remodel the Diamond Club next year, so we have no choice but to come back and check the place out.

The only thing that was a little creepy about the experience was some of my old coworkers from the Climate Pledge Arena work here as well. I had to dodge them.

I don't remember who won but I do remember what's actually important: I got some screen time. Lydia unfortunately was not mentally ready for a close up and was not featured. Sad.

We got some looks from farther away during gameplay as well. Not too shabby. The legend continues.

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