The right way to watch a Seattle Mariners game

The disadvantage to your city's baseball not having their home opener until a week into the season is that you get to see a handful of games before you see your team on the field.

And in Seattle's case, judging by that first handful of games, the Mariners stink. And if you're reading this, you've already missed their home opener.

That's good for two reasons: In bypassing the opener, tickets are much more available now that you're not fighting the rubes who show up for that first game, then go away for the rest of the season. And you can still have a great time.

Here's how:

The easiest way to park is at the stadium garage itself (duh!) or other nearby facilities, and you can reserve these spots ahead of time on Ticketmaster. However, be prepared to pay a premium with prepaid parking going for $25 -- or more.

If you park a few blocks away closer to downtown, you can find parking for half of that. Or even street parking, if you're lucky.

Of course, you can have the light rail drop you off near the stadium, and remove the parking issue entirely. (If you want to be campy, call it by it's original name, the South Lake Union Trolley. You, too, can take a ride on the ... well, you know.)

One of the benefits of parking a few blocks away is the walk through the Pioneer Square area, which feature a handful of great pubs -- alternately known as your last chances for beer at non-stadium prices.
Here are three to check out, from farthest to the stadium to closest.

The Central Saloon
First opened in 1892, the Central is billed as the oldest bar in Seattle and has the atmosphere to match. It also holds its own place in Seattle Mariners lore, once setting beer prices to match the batting average of a slumping catcher. The catcher wasn't amused.

F.X. McRory's Steak Chop & Oyster House
This bar/restaurant was immortalized by a work by the late artist Leroy Neiman. Inside, you'll find the stacks of bottles shown in Neiman's painting, as 30 taps heavy on locally produced beer and a solid food menu.

The Triangle Pub
This flatiron building was built in 1901 and it's a historic landmark, not to mention a former brothel. Now, it's a tiny dive bar with basic beer and pulltabs. It's worth a look, but be prepared to continue on if it's too crowded.

Safeco Field is one of baseball's most scenic ballparks, but depending on what you're looking for, the seats aren't created equal.

Best to watch the game: This isn't that complicated, the closer to the field, the better. Sitting along the third-base line will keep the sun out of your eyes as it goes down.

Best for scenery: Want to enjoy the beauty of Elliott Bay and Seattle skyline while the game goes on in front of you? The upper deck along the first-base line might be your ticket. Not only is this the best view (especially as the sun goes down), but since you're sitting in the upper deck, it's still one of the cheapest tickets in the stadium.

Best for socializing:Just go cheap and get bleachers tickets. One of the best ways to watch the game is watching from the standing room beyond center field. So if you're not going to use your seat, why pay more than you need to?

Rob Shore is a Seattle baseball fan who sometimes misses the Kingdome. Except for the part that was a concrete, antiseptic mausoleum.