The 3rd day in our 10 day long Advent Calendar celebrating moments of joy from the 2015 Seattle Mariners
Day 3 - Both of 'em are out, ohhhhh baby! We'll take it! Absolutely take it!
Now according to Blowers, what you're supposed to do as the tagging player is just fucking wallop the runner while screaming OUT in the hopes that general confusion will give way to surrender of safety on the paths. Well sure enough, it worked. For just as he tags Pillar (on the right,) the safe Carrera, arguing with nearby umpire Jim Joyce, just launches himself off the bag with the assistance of Jays' third base coach Luis Rivera.
"In that situation, you're told to tag both guys and let the umpire tell you who's out," Zunino said. "It just sort of happened, and luckily I saw it enough to just keep the tag on [Carrera]. It was a big momentum change and helped Taijuan [Walker's] pitch count."
The holidays are a time for family. Baseball season is a time for explaining truly insane, rare things to your family, and hoping you never have to do so again. Franklin Gutierrez's walk off home run in the 11th is our enduring memory of this game because watching a man almost take literal flight like a beautiful person-bird has a way of worming its way into our hearts. But earlier that Sunday, your Seattle Mariners turned what was only the second 3-6-2-2 triple play since 1955. And it was among the more spectacular oddities of the 2015 season.
First, let's set the stage. It's the top of the 4th inning. Taijuan Walker is having an up and down day, and is about to throw his 70th pitch against the offensive juggernaut that is the Toronto Blue Jays, who lead by 1 run. Tai has runners on the corners, and no outs. Ryan Goins hits the ball sharply. And then? A descent into madness.
Ok. So. Goins is out at first on the force (good job, former Mariner, Mark Trumbo you know, not goofing that up). Mark throws the ball to former Mariner short stop Brad Miler for the double play, but Brad says, "HEY RUNS ARE BAD" and abandons the run down at second to try to nab the more important out at home from across the field. Ezequiel Carrera (great Christmas name) get an inexplicable hitch in his giddy up and hesitates. Brad tosses the ball to Mike Zunino as Carrera attempts to make his way back to third. All of this is weird but not bananas until you remember that Kevin Pillar was never out at second, and is scooting his own baseball self over to third. Carrera continues to mosey back, apparently caring not a lick for Pillar's "Hey this is my continent in Risk now, you get your own or take the out like a gentleman." Carrera arrives first, albeit barely. Pillar is out. But the play doesn't stop there for Mike "I can do a thing shut up, you guys" Zunino.
On the broadcast, Mike Blowers informed the audience at home that what you're taught to do when you're a little baby baseball man who still believes in Santa Clause, or is a catcher at the University of Florida, is to madly tag both runners occupying the bag yelling "OUT OUT OUT YOU'RE OUT YOU MADE A BASEBALL OUT" in the hopes the runners will get confused and vacate the bag long enough for you to apply the tag, get both outs, and receive a tasty Italian Christmas treat. Being taught to do that is one thing. Actually having it work is another. Pillar is already out here, because we are stingy Grinches and only allow one baserunner on the bag at a time. But Carrera isn't until, busy arguing with the ump and aided by third base couch Luis Rivera, he comes off the bag and falls over. That's when Mike Zunino pounces. "OUT OUT OUT." They were all out. Every single one. Like a Christmas miracle.
I don't know which part was my favorite. That another team TOOTBLANed so spectacularly? That Rivera was trying to be a good helper and but then was not at all a good helper? Kyle Seager's stoic reaction, as if his old baseball soul had seen this many times before? The image of Mike Zunino furiously tagging both runners while yelling "OUT OUT OUT OUT"?
No, I think my favorite part was endeavoring to explain to my family what the hell just happened, a conversation that took half an hour and literally included the question: "Who's on first?" So as we mark this, the third day of Lookout Advent, let us remember that baseball can be fun. It can be zany. It bring you and yours together. We can delight in things we haven't seen in a very long time, and may never see again. Even if it's a largely forgotten play, from a largely forgotten game, in a lost season. Even if we don't completely understand it the first few times around. Because sometimes, baseball gives you Christmas in July.