Tag Archives: San Francisco Giants

My Week in D.C.

9 Oct
Me at the Lincoln Memorial, looking out to the Washington Monument

Me at the Lincoln Memorial, looking out to the Washington Monument

*Note: To try to avoid any confusion, here is a warning. I will be using various 1st person pronouns as well as using specific people’s names throughout this piece*

Thursday: My flight out of Seattle was supposed to take off at 8:20am pacific time. It was the following sequence of frustrating events that really made me think back to the recent luck I’ve had while flying. Once all of the passengers were seated and strapped in, the cabin doors were about to close when it was announced that there was a water leak in one of the lavatories in the back of the plane. 5 minutes later the captain got back on the intercom to announce that we had to change planes. We all got off the first plane at Sea-Tac’s C20 gate and had to make the trek all the way to N2 in the north satellite. After standing in line again we re-boarded with no organized order so basically we boarded in the order that we had arrived to the new gate, which easily pissed off those in first class and those who had priority boarding the first time. We pulled back from the gate and after almost a two-hour delay we were in the air and on our way to Baltimore.

Due to thunderstorms in the Midwest our plane was forced to do a “V” around the country. Instead of flying directly to Baltimore we flew south all the way to Dallas before turning back north into Baltimore. Of course I was seated next to an elderly couple. Just my luck. Luckily I was able to listen to music without interruption for most of the flight. There was also a family of four sitting in the row in front of me. The mom and dad were sitting in the aisle seats and every once in a while they would lean into the aisle to either seductively rub each other arms or briefly kiss. Kind of weird but whatever I guess. Total flight time was roughly 6 hours, almost one full hour longer than scheduled. After landing we headed to a shuttle that took us to an offsite Amtrak station where we would take a “MARC” train into downtown Washington D.C. After nearly an hour long wait on the train platform, we got on the train and rode it about 45 minutes into Washington D.C.’s Union Station. Upon arriving at Union Station we needed to ride the red subway line three stops to get to our hotel. After struggling for almost 15 minutes trying to figure out how to buy a subway pass, we rode the subway to Metro Center, and did about a 5-block loop to get to our hotel. After almost 11 hours after leaving Seattle, we were finally able to settle in at the hotel.

After unpacking my Dad and I went down the street to eat at a restaurant called “City Tap House” and although the food was pretty good (I had a pepperoni pizza with sliced Chile peppers), the menu was somewhat sophisticated and I had a hard time landing on something I thought I would enjoy. After dinner we headed back to catch the end of Thursday Night Football between the Vikings and Packers and after the game I headed for bed in preparation for a hectic, busy, and fun touristy day on Friday.

Friday: I woke up relatively early and headed down to the first floor for a full breakfast buffet that included classic options such as hash browns, eggs, bacon, sausage, and French toast. After breakfast my dad and I headed out and hit many of the sites most people go to Washington D.C. to see. In order we saw the White House, the World War II memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam War Memorial, the Washington Monument, the Museum of American History Smithsonian, the Museum of Natural History Smithsonian, and the Capitol building. It was a long day on my feet but it was very fun. If you were only able to see a couple of these things I would recommend the Lincoln Memorial and the American History Smithsonian. My favorite exhibits at the Smithsonian included “Food: Transforming the American Table” which showed the evolution of food in the United States, “American Stories” which was a timeline of important faces, artifacts, and inventions in American history, and “The Star-Spangled Banner” which included the original American flag from the Battle of Baltimore, which inspired Francis Scott Key to write the song which became our National Anthem.

Upon arriving back at the hotel my Dad and I awaited the arrival of my uncle and my two cousins who were also coming into town for the Seahawks game. Once they arrived we went out to dinner at the Capitol City Brewing Company which was just a couple blocks away from the hotel. Capitol City’s beer selection reminded me of the Ram, as they only had four house brews and they also cycled in seasonal beers. I enjoyed the baby back ribs with a pint of their “Amber Waves Ale” and a pint of their Oktoberfest. Following dinner my friend James arrived into town and since he had not eaten since leaving Seattle we trekked to the only quality restaurant still open past midnight, a “Five Guys” about 15 minutes away from the hotel. We randomly ran into my cousin Chris who was coming back from a night out with his friends and convinced him to join us on our burger adventure. After we ate we walked back through the pouring rain to the hotel.

Saturday: I woke up early on Saturday morning to work out before heading down to breakfast. Following breakfast James and I did many of the things I had done with my Dad the day before. The only new thing I saw on Saturday was the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial which was very spacious and beautiful. After walking around the Mall a little bit more we decided to stop for lunch at Shake Shack. We had Shake Shack for the very first time back in New York in February at the Super Bowl so when we learned that Washington D.C. housed a “Shack” it was clear we had to make a stop. After devouring a double smoke shack (my personal favorite menu item), fries, and a s’mores concrete (blended custard dessert) we headed back to the hotel to rest up for what would become a very eventful night.

Late Friday night James and I had bought tickets to game 2 of the National League Division Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Washington Nationals so in the late afternoon Saturday James and I hopped onto the green subway line to head to Nationals Park. I had not been to a playoff baseball game since the Mariners played the New York Yankees in the 2001 American League Championship Series so I was really excited to be a part of postseason baseball again. We then got swagged out in red at the Nationals team store before taking a lap around the inside of the stadium. Nationals Park is a relatively young ballpark and I was very impressed with the amenities it provided, the quality view from every angle, as well as the food selection. I highly recommend the pulled pork/brisket combo from Blue Smoke BBQ in right-center field. We sat in the very last row of the upper deck down the left field line and we only stayed at our seats for 4 innings because I was drastically underdressed and an intense cross breeze made it uncomfortably cold to stay in my seat as the game wore on. The game ended in 18 innings with the Giants winning 2-1 but due to plans we had made later on that night we only stayed for the first 10 innings. Even though it was disappointing we couldn’t stay, this experience was the best part of the trip other than the Seahawks game.

Upon arriving back at the hotel we met up with our other friend from high school Brent and the three of us walked up 14th Street to meet our friend Amy for a night out at a bar called Café Saint-Ex. Let me say first that 14th Street in D.C. gives off a feel similar to Capitol Hill in Seattle. There are several bars and other nightlife options in the area, bringing a varied range of groups of people into the area. Café Saint-Ex reminded me of two different places in Seattle. The main bar reminded me of the front room at Finn MacCool on the Ave. The entire room was filled to capacity and it was difficult to find an open place to stand. The downstairs room was much more fun as it was a dance floor reminiscent of the top floor of Grim’s on Capitol Hill. After a long, wild dance party that included a few shots of Fireball and a few Miller Lite’s, James and I headed back to the hotel.

Sunday: Thanks in large part to my late Saturday night out, I slept through breakfast on Sunday morning. Oh well, at least I was able to get a cup of coffee and a scone at Starbucks across the street once I finally got going. The bulk of our Sunday was spent at the Newseum, a museum dedicated to the history and evolution of news across all media platforms. As a sports blogger with a passion for learning about news and media I found the Newseum to be the most interesting and most fun museum I went to on this trip. Among the exhibits on display were these three that I found to be the most interesting and noteworthy. The “Berlin Wall Gallery” which included a portion of the Berlin Wall along with a timeline which told the story of how television among other media covered the events surrounding the take down of the Berlin Wall. The “FBI Exhibit” had artifacts of some of the most famous cases the FBI has ever worked on stretching from the manhunt for John Dillinger to the manhunt for Osama Bin Laden. The last exhibit that really got my emotions going was the “9/11 Gallery” which presented the September 11th terrorist attacks through the eyes of the journalists that covered them around the world. The gallery included a picture timeline of the day’s events, a theater that played a documentary of interviews from some of the media that covered the attacks up close, a wall of newspapers featuring the front page of every major newspaper published on September 12th, 2001, and a tribute to photojournalist William Biggart who was the only journalist who lost his life covering the 9/11 attacks. The tribute included never-before-seen pictures from his cameras as well as some of Biggart’s personal effects that were found in the World Trade Center rubble.

We spent three hours in the Newseum which was more time than I spent in both Smithsonian’s on Friday combined. Upon leaving the Newseum and grabbing a quick lunch we headed on the subway to see the Pentagon and Arlington Cemetery. Although we did not get to the cemetery until after it closed, we were able to walk around the Pentagon and see the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial. The memorial consists of a wide gravel space along with trees and includes 125 benches in honor of the 125 people who lost their lives at this site. I found the benches to be interesting, as those that were pointing towards the building represent those who were on the plane that crashed. The benches facing the opposite direction represent those who were inside the Pentagon at the time of the crash. I am always intrigued to learn more about 9/11 as it is American history that I remember, unlike other memorials recognizing events that I have no personal memory of.

Afterwards we headed back to the hotel to catch the last quarter-plus of the late afternoon NFL games. The three of us then went out to dinner and following the completion of my fish and chips at Gordon Biersch we decided to head back and call it a night. We had a busy day ahead of us on Monday and we needed to get as much rest as possible.

Monday: When it comes to Seahawks gameday, I am the kind of fan that treats the day like a holiday; there is nothing that I want stopping me from having a football-filled day. When the group of 6 of us decided to take a short day trip out to the Air and Space Smithsonian close to Washington-Dulles airport, I was worried that the time spent at the museum would interfere with any other Seahawks-related activities I was hoping to do prior to heading out to the game that night. If we had gone to see this museum on any other day I would have loved it even more. Although I found the Space Shuttle Discovery exhibit, the Concorde, and the various military planes to be very interesting, the fact that I was worried about being late to the game on Monday night made me kind of a pain to be around as I felt my body language made it seem like I did not want to be there. What added to this behavior was that it took two hours to get there, as we had to take the silver subway out to the end of the line with a 30 minute bus ride on top of it. Talk about frustrating. After spending only about an hour at the museum we headed back to the hotel to get ready for Monday Night Football.

After grabbing a quick bite to eat at the Capitol City Brewing Company one more time, the entire group of 7 of us headed to the subway station to take the ride out to FedExField. Upon arriving out in Landover it was about a mile walk through a new residential complex to get into the stadium parking lot. We decided to head immediately into the stadium.

FedExField reminded me a lot of MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. The stadium is a simple three-deck bowl that had interior decorations that were the colors of the FedEx logo (purple, orange, and green). The seats were all orange but I stood for the entire game so I have no gage to determine if they were comfortable or not. The concourses are wide but they show signs of aging. It is all concrete that gave off a vibe of older stadiums I have visited such as the Oakland Coliseum or Candlestick Park. The 12th Man showed up in full force this week. While walking around I heard several moans and groans from Redskins fans about how their stadium was being invaded by opposing fans once again.

There are also a few points that need to be made about Redskins fans in general. First, Redskins fans seem to fully understand that their team is struggling and any banter between them and fans of the defending Super Bowl champions, they knew they did not stand a chance. Therefore there was almost no smack talk hurled my way throughout the game. Secondly, Redskins fans are very quick to give up on their team. After the Seahawks took a 24-10 lead with 6 minutes left in the game the majority of the crowd started to head for the exits. The game was not over by any means and the Redskins were able to quickly drive down the field to cut the Seahawks lead down to 7. A few loyal fans stuck around while showing clear anger that other fans were choosing to leave. That is something that you almost never see happen in Seattle. Lastly, it is amazing how few people I saw wearing Redskins gear around the city from the time I got in on Thursday night. I do not know if it has something to do with the fact that the Washington Nationals were in the playoffs and most fans had their full attention on baseball. I do not know if the Redskins name controversy has scared fans away of wearing Redskins gear in public. What I do know is that I walked close to 100 miles in my first 4 days in D.C. and I could count the number of people wearing Redskins gear on one hand. I found that number to be absolutely stunning.

After the Seahawks sealed the win we decided to head back to the hotel. We got back around 1am and I decided to crash. Monday night had been one of the more memorable Seahawks road experiences I have had.

Commentary: A Tribute to Candlestick Park

4 Dec
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Photo Credit: pro32.ap.org

*Sunday will mark the fourth and final Seahawks game I attend against the 49ers at Candlestick Park. The stadium is set to be torn down at the conclusion of the 49ers 2013 season. As a part of our second 49ers “hate week” of the season, I commemorate Candlestick Park with a special tribute post about the stadium from a Seahawks fan’s perspective*

Over the past decade-plus there have been many instances when my friends and I talk about the Kingdome. Those talks include topics such as what our most memorable experiences in the Kingdome were, what we miss about it, and how sometimes we even wish the Kingdome was still around today. On March 26th, 2000 the Kingdome was imploded and the most iconic part and the most special era of my childhood came tumbling to the ground.

The same is about to happen to San Francisco 49ers fans.

San Francisco sports fans have already gone through this once when the San Francisco Giants moved downtown to AT&T Park in 2000. However once the 49ers move out of Candlestick Park at the conclusion of the 2013 season, the clock will have struck midnight on the legendary building most famously known for hosting the final concert of the Beatles and hosting game 3 of the 1989 World Series when a magnitude 6.9 earthquake struck the San Francisco area minutes prior to the start of the game, shaking the stadium and postponing the series for one week. Following this season, Candlestick Park will be torn down to make way for a proposed shopping center at the site of the stadium. Next season the 49ers are moving into Levi’s Stadium, their new state-of-the-art facility in Santa Clara and thus will shift into an era of playing their home games in a modern day football stadium they can call their own. After the final game at the end of this month, a remarkable run including 42 years of memories will come to an end.

Let me get this out of the way now. Personally I hate Candlestick Park. It is an absolute dump of a stadium. The seats are uncomfortable, the bathrooms are claustrophobic, and the concourses are so narrow that it takes forever to get out of the stadium after the game. Not only that but the sole fact that it housed the team I despise the most for 42 seasons gives me reason to hate the building by itself. On the inside it reminds me of a more cramped Kingdome without a roof. A lot of people would say the Kingdome was the same but many Seahawks fans including myself loved that building. That feeling of “home” for 49ers fans at Candlestick Park is the same feeling I miss about going to the Kingdome and the “home” of the “Niner Empire” will be permanently relocated which could come as a traditional shock for many 49ers fans. For those Seahawks fans that have never had the opportunity to attend a game at Candlestick Park, let me attempt to paint you a colorful picture of a 49ers gameday at the Stick.

The Drive: For my first two games at Candlestick Park, we drove north on highway 101 to get to the stadium. The Stick sits along the San Francisco bay just east of the highway. You know you are getting close once the highway curves past South San Francisco and you can see Candlestick Park in the distance on your right-hand side. Once you can see the stadium you hit a straight stretch of the highway and the stadium becomes larger as you drive closer, much like seeing the skylines of large cities become closer as you drive closer. The view is even better on a clear sunny day. The highway exit wraps around “Candlestick Point” and leads cars into multiple directions into the handful of parking lot entrances, which can be a big pain if you arrive closer to game time.

The Parking Lot and the Tailgating: The Seahawks are at a disadvantage when it comes to tailgating in Seattle because CenturyLink Field is located in the downtown core. There are limited parking lots surrounding CenturyLink Field and because of that fact many fans choose to drink at the surrounding neighborhood bars before the game. Candlestick Park does traditional tailgating the right way. The stadium is surrounded by roughly 8,800 parking spaces, housing the grand majority of fans attending each game. It is always best to arrive shortly after the gates to the parking lot open to avoid the inevitable traffic congestion that is promised both before and after the game. Once you park (around Seahawks fans of course) the fun really starts. As soon as you crack your car doors open you can smell the sweet aroma of meat being prepared on the numerous charcoal barbeques. You can see the different beautiful layouts of each car’s food and the large coolers stuffed with different types of liquor and beer. You can hear the mixed sounds of NFL pregame shows on the radio and the latest hip-hop/rap tracks blasting from car speakers. You can see the sights of fans playing beer pong, flip cup, beanbag toss, and throwing around footballs while engaging in friendly football banter. It is always a very merry atmosphere; an atmosphere that would get even the most bandwagon of fans excited for the rest of the day’s events.

The Walk: If you a 49ers fan this part would not be nearly worth talking about but as a visiting fan, the walk into the stadium is a very intimidating, yet very cool thing to experience. Most fans walk down a designated stretch of blacktop that leads straight to the gates of the stadium. Tailgating fans line the sides of the walkway and it is custom for 49ers fans to boo the Seahawks fans making their way into the stadium. I personally feed off of their energy, often signaling them to boo me louder. I absolutely love it and it is even better when the Seahawks are a better team on the field than the 49ers are. The walk into Candlestick Park serves as a preview of what to expect inside the stadium as an opposing fan.

The Concourses: Since I have sat in the same area of the Stick in each of my visits, I am not familiar at all with the lower level concourses. Once you enter the stadium, in order to get to the upper level you hop on an escalator that takes you right up to the upper deck. The concourse wraps around the entire stadium and they are very narrow, thus they can get very crammed as you get closer to kickoff. Concession stands and beer stands are continuously within spitting distance. The best part of the upper level concourse is the incredible view of the South San Francisco Bay, the downtown skyline, and the Bay Bridge along with the massive parking lot flooded with cars and people. It is a beautiful, picture perfect sight.

The Upper Bowl: Inside the bowl of the stadium, the first thing you see is the large Candlestick Point hill that neighbors the stadium. It is directly behind the stadium and provides a pretty backdrop to everyone that sits on the opponent’s side of the stadium. The seats are a bright orange color that are big but are very uncomfortable. It is a workout to even push your seat down and the seat stays down if you decide to stand up. Although I have sat in the same area of the stadium there is no bad seat in the upper bowl. The only problem I have is that the sun is constantly beating down on the entire stadium during day games, which has resulted in two terrible sunburns to my pale pigmented redhead skin.

After the Game: Leaving the stadium is a nightmare regardless of whether the Seahawks win or lose. 60,000+ people leaving the stadium all at the same time with one main road to get back onto highway 101 is the recipe for a long wait to exit the premises. Many fans go back to tailgate at their parking spaces to kill time while others try to get in the multiple car lines to leave the parking lot. It is very similar to the set up at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, where they turn the neighboring golf course into a giant parking area. I waited in that parking lot for over two hours following the 2001 Rose Bowl. Most fans wait for upwards of one and a half hours to leave Candlestick Park which is a gigantic pain. In my experiences, I have left Candlestick postgame both in the light and in the dark and after a night game the stadium (like many other stadiums) looks cool with all the lights on, especially from a distance on the highway. As you leave the parking lot the reality sets in that your trip is over but in my past experiences, the anticipation of my next trip to Candlestick Park starts to set along with the sigh of relief that you survived the current trip, which is a very exciting feeling.

Sunday will be the fourth and final Seahawks/49ers game that I attend at Candlestick Park. I have been through both good and bad moments in the games I have attended there. From the Seahawks 23-3 thumping of the 49ers in 2007, to the sick feeling of witnessing Ted Ginn Jr. return a kickoff and a punt for a touchdown in the 2011 season opener, I can say that I had the opportunity to watch NFL football in one of the more famous stadiums in America. People like talk about bucket list trips and stadium visits they would like to make before they die. Lambeau Field in Green Bay and Soldier Field in Chicago are a couple of NFL stadiums that instantly come to mind, but in my opinion Candlestick Park is the Lambeau Field of the west coast. This season, as part of a Candlestick Park celebration, the 49ers are counting down the top 10 moments in the stadium’s history which includes a halftime ceremony honoring each moment. In this week’s game against the Seahawks, the 49ers will honor the number two moment: “The Catch III” which occurred on January 14th, 2012 when quarterback Alex Smith connected with tight end Vernon Davis for the game-winning touchdown in a Divisional playoff win over New Orleans.

Although I may not like the stadium, I have tremendous respect for the moments that occurred over the past four decades as well as the legacy that Candlestick Park will leave in the bay area.

Gameday In San Francisco

23 Oct

On Thursday I broke a record for the earliest I have woken up on a Seahawks gameday. My previous record of 4:15am was broken by my 3:30am alarm at my house in Wallingford. The only reason why I was up that early is because of my flight to San Francisco the morning of the game. After showering, dressing up in my Seahawks jersey and other attire, and doing some final packing, my roommate Jake gave me a ride to the airport. My flight left at 6:15am and I checked in and got through security with just enough time to grab my Sea-Tac airport signature meal, breakfast from Wendy’s, and head to the gate.

I had never flown Virgin America prior to this trip. I must say I was incredibly impressed with the luxury and the features that came with the flight which included satellite television, a map showing where you were, a full beverage service, and lighting that made every passenger feel like they were sitting in first class. Aaron Levine of Q13 Fox was seated in the front of the plane and before we took off we engaged in a friendly Twitter chat.

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You can see part of the plane’s interior lighting at the bottom of the screen picture just to give you an idea of what it was like on my flight down.

I landed in San Francisco at around 8:30am. After de-boarding the plane I headed for the SFO tram which connected me to the airport BART station. I had never traveled via the BART before and at first I was confused how everything worked from getting your pass to knowing which train to get on and where to get off. After a good half an hour train ride I arrived in downtown San Francisco. I had a hard time figuring out the streets at first but I finally found my hotel after doing about a 4-mile loop walk. After checking in to the hotel I headed down to the Embarcadero (The street that runs along the San Francisco waterfront) and took a walk to Fisherman’s Wharf. I had not been to the Wharf since I went to San Francisco with my dad in 2007 so it was a treat to hang out and see what had changed and what was still the same from 5 years earlier. After taking some pictures and looking through some shops (which included a huge sports apparel/memorabilia store on Pier 39) I had an early lunch at In-N-Out.

After picking up some beer at a downtown Safeway, my friend Josh and I took a cab to Candlestick Park and arrived in the massive parking lot shortly after 2:30pm. After looking around for a group of Seahawks fans, we found a group of 5 Seahawks fans currently living in the Northgate neighborhood of Seattle who had flown down the previous day for the game. One of the guys works in the suites at CenturyLink Field and was in the Red Zone Suites during the Monday Night Miracle in week 3. He showed us a couple pictures of the ESPN broadcast with him in the background. We joked that he got to see himself on television thousands of times in the days following and he agreed while laughing along. Josh and I drank 3 Pyramid Hefeweizen’s and a shot of Crown Royal each (which I struggled with, since all I’ve been drinking recently is Fireball…). I was not heckled much outside the stadium during the tailgate. The only thing possibly worth noting is that a couple of 49ers fans were playing catch and the ball was overthrown and dribbled over towards where we were. The 49er fan chasing after the ball got close and screamed to us “don’t touch it!!” No worries though man, I wouldn’t touch your red and gold ball with a fifty foot pole.

After tailgating for about an hour and a half we decided to head into the stadium. We sat on an aisle with a family of Seahawks fans to our left and friendly San Francisco fans sitting in the row above us. The site from my seats was nostalgic because last season I sat in the exact same spot only one section over to the left. Here is the view from my seats at Candlestick Park; Section 51, Row 1, Seat 3.

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The game got off to a good start but the Seahawks got tired and fell apart in the second half. There were chants of “Seahawks suck!” multiple times in the second half but nothing too bad was said in my direction. The best heckling story I have is when I was having my picture taken at halftime. I knelt down at the staircase in front of our section and as I was getting my picture taken, a 49ers fan in my section screamed “Ginger on three! ONE, TWO, THREE!” Of course I just laughed it off and kept on cheering for the Seahawks. No beers were thrown in my face and no threats of physical harm were sent my way. Most importantly, I was not shot or stabbed as I was leaving the stadium. Great success in staying alive. Of course I was disappointed that we had lost and I did my best not to let it get into my head too badly but I ultimately failed, as I was unable to shake off the loss in order to have a good time for the duration of my trip. We got out of the Candlestick Park parking lot relatively slowly and got back to the hotel pretty late.

Among other stops on my trip to San Francisco was a trip to the Golden Gate Bridge, Ghirardelli Square, and we ate at well-known San Francisco restaurants such as Taqueria La Cumbre, Boudin Bakery, and Capurro’s, which was recommended by Coach Carroll during his Seahawks press conference the day before Thursday night’s game. I also had the opportunity to buy a standing-room only ticket for game 6 of the National League Championship Series on Sunday afternoon between the St. Louis Cardinals and the San Francisco Giants but I decided to turn the opportunity down.

I flew back to Seattle on Sunday night and it was the shortest flight I have ever been on. We took off from SFO at about 10:45pm and we landed at Sea-Tac at roughly 12:15am Monday morning. I might be flying United more often! After getting a ride back home I unloaded my bags and went to bed, thus ending my long weekend in San Francisco.

Next year is the final season of San Francisco 49ers football at Candlestick Park before they move into their new state-of-the-art stadium in Santa Clara. There is no doubt I will make one last visit to the Stick next season to see the Seahawks play. It will surely be a special trip and hopefully I can make the trip with many of my friends.

Programming Note: Look for my preview of Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions most likely on Saturday afternoon. Go Seahawks!