I haven't been to a baseball game in a year or so. Not out of protest or anything (although you could argue that my distaste for public support of Bud Selig's product has pushed me away from regular attendance), but mostly because the Seattle Mariners just suck. Yep, they suck. My apologies to our Japanese owner who's never attended a game in person. I will forgive you if you let me design my own game for Nintendo.
It's a sumo-wrestling game for the Wii. Call me.
I'm not a bandwagon guy, I've spent my whole life rooting for teams that don't win, I'm used to it. But if I'm going to physically go to a baseball game, it better be special. I went to a game recently with my wife, so you could argue that that alone is what made it special (aww), but, really, what happened during the game redefined my definition of "special" (or just reinforced it). It wasn't one thing specifically, just a conglomeration of the human experience ... a welding of jaw-dropping stupidity and hilariousness that reminded me what it's like to be around large groups of people. I wouldn't say it made me want to go to a baseball game again, no, it just opened my eyes once more to the true wonders of American life. NPR should've been there to document it.
But instead of NPR, you get a less-pretentious version of it called Me. And you know what that means ... QUICK TAKES!
- I got a free unfitted Mariners hat upon arrival at Safeco Field, which I think I gave to a homeless man on the way home (you're WELCOME). Have we learned nothing from "Seinfeld"? Also, the irony of that sentence about "a homeless man on the way home" just hit me, and I sincerely apologize to the homeless, as they are an easy and unnecessary target for Internet-based humor. Lack of computers, etc.
- Standing out by the bullpen before the game, Felix Hernandez was warming up despite the fact that he wasn't pitching that day. I guess that's what pitchers do on their off days: Toss a wad of chew in their mouths, throw some pitches in the bullpen, spit a little (see my photo above), and call it a day. But as Felix wowed fans with every snap of the catcher's glove, a group of dudes (and they really were "dudes") ran up to the bullpen fence and yelled, "Hey Felix! Thanks for the shutout the other night! I have you on my fantasy team! You're finally paying off!" To which Felix quickly replied, "You're welcome, you owe me $20!"
- I've now discovered that anyone wearing a T-shirt to a Mariners game with skulls, swords, or some sort of skull/sword combination is not there to watch the baseball game. He is there to drink beer, hit on women, and yell obscenities at whoever looks at him funny while he walks laps around the field for four straight hours. He will also, strangely, stand outside the bathroom for lengthy periods of time while holding his cell phone and smirking like an idiot. Is that where people like him find their pick of the litter? Right outside the litter box?
- Been to a baseball game lately? If not, it turns out that everyone there is rooting for every other team BUT the teams playing. Please take off your Cincinatti Reds jersey, sir, they aren't playing today and you're just confusing your children.
- We sat next to a man with no teeth who was wearing a Mariners-branded T-shirt that said "#1 Dad!" as he fed his kids packets of Crystal Light and home-brought peanuts from a Ziploc bag. One of his three boys was about 20 years older than the other two and was utterly enthralled by the ability of the Crystal Light packet to turn his bottled water red. Safeco Field is supposed to be a family-friendly environment, but let's not make it a refuge for the cast of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre." Shudders.
- Mariners fans got more excited about the damn digital hydroplane race than they did at any other point during the game. I may or may not have mockingly yelled "BLUE!" throughout the race, despite the fact that there was no blue hydroplane in the competition. It was in the shop, I was just rooting for a speedy recovery.
- In Chicago, everybody sings "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the seventh inning stretch at Cubs games as loudly and passionately as they can. It's tradition and it really goes a long way toward bringing fans together. In Seattle, people stand around and wait for that song to be over before launching out of their seats and dancing around like Emily Rose when "Louie, Louie" comes on, which, I contend, is a completely non-sensical song and not worthy of the adoration it receives. Oh baby now me gotta go? What the hell.
- If I'm walking down the street and I see a sign that says, "CLAP YOUR HANDS!" ... I don't clap my hands. I make a quizzical face and then move on. Why should I clap my hands if I don't feel like clapping my hands? It's preposterous. If I'm watching TV and a commercial comes on for Taco Bell, I don't immediately get in my car and go to Taco Bell. Sometimes I think about going to Taco Bell, but I don't actually do it. I have free will. I make my own decisions. I decide when I'm hungry and what I should eat. At a Mariners game, however, free will is strongly discouraged. When a sign comes on, people profoundly adhere to making noise, chanting a player's name a specific way, or, in the case of the sign, "Let me hear it!", letting whoever the me is in that sign hear whatever it is that he/she is hoping to hear. When a clapping sound comes on, everyone immediately claps along. The second the signs or sounds disappear, everyone stops. It's absolutely terrifying. And we're sure the robots haven't already won?
- Explain to me the allure of a gigantic mound of hot, sweaty garlic fries.
- A kid sitting next to me got up to go to the bathroom with his dad (full of teeth, not the #1 Dad from before). He tapped me on the shoulder, handed me a bag of hot peanuts his dad had purchased from a vendor, and said, "Can you hold this?" before walking up the aisle. Now I was holding a stranger's bag of warm peanuts. I do not understand human behavior.
- Fun fact: The last book Rob Johnson read was "The Bible." Maybe he should read a book on catching. And then one on hitting. And then one on less-creepy fun facts.
- Around the third inning, two wannabe cast members from "Jersey Shore" showed up in our section wearing LA Angels jerseys (surprisingly, the team the Mariners were playing that day). It was immediately clear that a) they were drunk, b) they were related, and c) they were obnoxious dbags that were going to provide endless entertainment for our section. While hurling slurred insults at Mariners fans in the fifth or sixth inning, a beer vendor came down the aisle and the two brothers yelled "HERE!" to get his attention. They obviously needed more liquor. The section collectively screamed, "Don't serve them!" at the bewildered beer salesman. He served them anyway (why listen to 100 sober people when two drunk kids are going to give you money?) and, a half inning later, on a sweltering summer day, the brothers had finished their beers and were looking a bit shaky excusing themselves from their annoyed row. Not one or two steps onto the stairs and one of the gel-slicked brothers, in mid-walk mind you, passed out and crumpled onto the stairs. He passed out while standing up! Can't say I've seen that before. His brother tried quickly to wake him as security began to descend the aisle, but Tweedledee was lights out and firmly planted. Out of nowhere, four old women appeared around the unconscious boy and started checking his vital signs. I whispered to my wife, "I bet they used to be nurses!" ... because old people obviously can't be nurses anymore once they reach a certain age (I'm an idiot). Alcohol enforcement finally showed up, called the paramedics, and then four paramedics showed up and pulled open his now-ironic Angels jersey, exposing a robust beer gut to the hundreds of people standing and watching. One guy got out of his seat and moved right up next to the scene, taking pictures with his cell phone while the paramedics gave "Are you effing serious?" looks and shooshed him away. The paramedics finally got the kid's eyes open and dead-body carried him up the aisle, placing him on a stretcher that was waiting in the rotunda as fans clapped. Their first non-suggested clap of the day. Whew.