By Josh (9 Inning Know It All):
When ‘experts’ talk about baseball they often overlook the northwest. It’s always raining up in the northwest and there really isn’t a lot of good baseball up there anyways right? Wrong! I firmly believe that baseball in the northwest is the most underrated locations for America’s pastime in the country. From the Major league level down to little league there is great baseball up here in the northwest.
At the Major League level the Northwest may only have one team in the Seattle Mariners, and that team may have had some struggles the past few years, but they play in one of the best ballparks in the country, Safeco Field, and have one of the most exciting pitchers in all of baseball as their ace (King Felix Hernandez). The atmosphere of Safeco is one of the most enjoyable places I’ve ever watched a baseball game. Everything from the retractable roof, the King’s Court and even the train whistle makes this a great place to catch a game or a series.
The northwest also has 9 amazing minor league teams ranging in location from Eugene, OR up to Vancouver, BC and across to Boise, ID. Eight of these teams make up the short season single-A Northwest League. This season top prospects like Mike Zunino, Chris Stratton, Albert Almora and Joey Gallo all played in the league. The stadiums in the Northwest league are fan friendly and at the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes there was only rain at one game and it wasn’t even enough to stop the game.
The 9th minor league team in the northwest is the Tacoma Rainiers who have a completely renovated stadium that offers an amazing location to watch minor league baseball along with a lot of fun for families before games, in between innings, and after games.
Minor League baseball is not the only summer baseball that is in the northwest. The West Coast League offers baseball fans an opportunity to watch future draft picks begin to make the adjustments from metal bats to wood bats. Current major league players Tommy Hanson and Bud Norris played in this league along with NFL quarterback Jake Locker.
The teams in the West Coast League make the fan experience the main priority and I have to admit there are few things better than seeing tons of kids rushing to grab a thousand dollars in ones at the Corvallis Knights game, or watching my little niece sweep off third base at the Cowlitz Black Bears game.
Even at the college level the northwest is often overlooked but thanks to some great performances by Oregon State, back to back College World Series Titles, and University of Oregon, a Super Regional Appearance and a Regional appearance in only four years of existence, college baseball in the northwest is getting a lot of recognition.
Whether baseball is played in a sandlot, on the street or in a 50,000 person stadium the game itself is a beautiful thing, and here in the northwest there are a lot of amazing locations, teams and leagues that fans can go and enjoy.