Tonight, if you haven’t heard, was Gluten-Free Night at Safeco Field. The Mariners acknowledged those among us that abstain from gluten, either by necessity or choice, by providing a variety of gluten-free ballpark fare at a pregame event inside Safeco. It was, by several accounts, a raging success.
Let it never be said that the Mariners aren’t dedicated. Over the past several years, they have seemed determined to see things through in all of their gory entirety. Tonight was no different. No, gluten-free food alone wouldn’t have been enough. In order to truly capture the spirit of a gluten-free meal, the Mariners put on a full nine-inning display of unadulterated gluten-free baseball.
Gluten is a protein complex primarily found in wheat, barley, and some other grains. Its presence in wheat means that it’s also present in most flours, which are ubiquitous in foods you wouldn’t normally associate with being wheat-based. There are so many foods that rely on wheat flour for their texture and substance. If we’re going to make gluten-free versions of those foods, we’re going to need a substitute flour.
As the celiac among us can attest, those other flours are often two parts bland, one part dry, and all parts boring. Still, they do get the job done. Tonight, Wade LeBlanc served as the Mariners’ gluten-free flour. He was as uninteresting as a mixture of sorghum and millet flour, and yet just as filling. Each 85 MPH fastball felt as dry and loose as a poorly baked gluten-free cake, but you’ll still end up full eating a dry, loose cake.
On the other side of the ball, Dee Gordon served as the binding agent to LeBlanc’s base. You need something to hold everything together, or it’ll all fall apart. Dee has been Captain Contact over the past few days, and continued that trend tonight. He led off both the first and third innings with hits. In the first, he immediately stole second base. In the third, he got there on a double. Dee was the one who brought everything together. He was xanthan gum.
Both innings, the Mariners had the stage set for good innings. Dee on second. Jean Segura, Robinson Canó, Nelson Cruz, and Mitch Haniger due up. But no. This is a gluten-free dish, and it’s not trying to do anything flashy. Sorry Jean Segura, but you’re not a spice tonight. I’m not really sure if your job is necessary, but I guess you do it anyway. Tonight, that job was to sacrifice bunt two consecutive times in order to advance Dee to third base. Flashy? No. A good idea? Probably not. Does it accomplish something? Yes. Tonight, Jean Segura was tapioca starch.
And then finally, something of substance. We need something to actually make our dish into something. We’ll throw in something that people normally eat, like cheese, or vegetables, or something like that. Gluten-free isn’t all bad, and no dish is complete without something to make it at least pretend to be good.
Robinson Canó singled Dee home in the first, and did the same in the third. However, as we learned last night in harsh fashion, two runs aren’t always enough. Fortunately, Nelson Cruz continued his recent tear with this.
Sometimes, when you’re eating something gluten-free, what you’re eating stops making sense for a second. “Wait,” you say. “How is this actually super good?” Sometimes, it just is. Don’t question it.
As the initial spice of the game ground down into the dull slog of blank frame after blank frame, the game began to take on a familiar hue. As with last night, there were frames where a dude reached third, and didn’t score. It was frustrating, and at times it was boring. Especially with Wade LeBlanc and Chasen Bradford eating the majority of the innings.
Let it not be said that gluten-free food lacks spice. Indeed, it’s usually the spice that makes it fit for human consumption in the first place. Juan Nicasio was due for a bounce-back tonight after a horrible miscue last night. He finally looked like the guy we thought we were getting this whole time.
Finally, what dish is complete without just a little bit of sugar?
Sure, maybe Wade LeBlanc and Chasen Bradford pitched a combined 6.1 innings tonight, and the Mariners went 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position while stranding five, and they were shut out for their final five frames of the game.
In the end, though, we still had Dee Gordon hitting and wreaking havoc on the base paths. There was still Robinson Canó trying to prove that clutch does exist, and Nelson Cruz defying logic at 38 years old. And there were definitely two relievers wearing their emotions on their sleeves, defying anyone who dared to call this game dull.
Maybe gluten-free food isn’t so bad after all.