You know those people in your life who are really into holidays? Like, decorations two months early, costume planned out way too far in advance, holiday songs blasting out of season? I regret to inform you that the Baltimore Orioles are those people.
Look, I work in sports marketing, I get it. When the team is going through a rough patch, you crack open the ol’ distraction playbook. When it comes to half-Christmas though...I have
some, several infinite questions.
Anyway, the Mariners and Orioles played a baseball game amid this Festivus-like nonsense. Félix and Andrew Cashner teamed up for a pitching matchup that would have been really fun in 2015, and is unfortunately a little less fun in 2018. Félix upheld his end of the deal, turning in a vintage Félix performance of dancing changeups and looping breaking balls for the first few innings.
The Mariners, realizing they were facing literally Andrew Cashner, got the bats started early. Credit the bottom of the lineup, including Chris Herrmann (!) for initiating the first rally. A pair of clutch walks from Herrmann and Heredia loaded the bases for Dee Gordon. There is perhaps no one on the team who could have used a bases loaded at-bat against Andrew Cashner more than Dee. In desperate need of a slump buster, Gordon punched a single to plate two runs and give his team an early lead.
Even though Mitch Haniger shut down the party with an infield pop up, the second inning was still a good time for all who attended. Those who made outs did so on hard contact (minus Mitch), and a Gordon RBI single to score the eight and nine hitters was an excellent gift (a surprise half-Christmas present, if you will). Staking a two-run lead on Cashner looked like a stocking stuffer to complement the bigger gifts to come.
In the home half of the fifth inning, Félix assumed the role of drunkest relative at the holiday gathering. His drunkenness began to show when Jonathan Schoop cracked a home run, but Félix composed himself enough to get the next two outs. Walking Colby Rasmus – the kid at every family gathering who doesn’t quite fit in with the adults and needs something to do – was a charitable gesture akin to slipping a child $20 when nobody’s looking. Getting Adam Jones to line out on the very next pitch was a perfect “See?! I’m not drunk. I had this under control the whooooole time” moment.
When the small was fire put out and the attention shifted back toward the actual holiday, everyone could gather for the gift-giving portion of half-Christmas. The set of gifts included a Denard Span home run, complete with a cool new celebration!
Doubling the lead looked like a great plan for easing Félix into the end of the night. The King is not the ruler he once was, as the kingdom has found and exposed flaws in his governing style – oh my God where’s Félix? Someone was supposed to keep an eye on him. He was right here a second ago! Wait, I know where he is.
I think Félix found the secret stash between the fifth and sixth innings.
Allowing a hit to Manny Machado, as Félix did to begin the sixth, is nothing to be ashamed of. Walking Mark Trumbo and hitting Chris Davis on the foot, however, reinforced my initial feeling that someone needed to cut Uncle Félix off before he derailed the entire holiday. Thanks to sparkling defensive plays from Jean Segura and Denard Span, the Orioles managed just two runs from the bases loaded, no out conundrum. Every family needs someone to check their sibling, cousin, uncle, grandparent, etc. when they start acting up. Bless Jean and Denard for stepping up and handling the situation like responsible adults.
Back to the gifts! A walk, a bunt single, and another walk set up Haniger to supply the gift of the night. He was upstaged a bit by Caleb Joseph free-kicking the ball 50 feet away and allowing a run to score, but Mitch still came through with a fiscally responsible sac fly to please everybody. This made it 5-3 Mariners, with Félix safe in his bed and Papa Pazos in charge. The large lefty did his job, passing the buck to Alex Colomé, who effectively put the kids to sleep so things could really get buck wild.
The top of the ninth featured a balk, two ejections, Caleb Joseph getting punched in the throat by a baseball, Ryon Healy working his 11th walk of the season, and a 1-2-3 double play. Half-Christmas is super lit. All that was left was for Edwin Díaz to make a toast or light the tree or whatever you do on half-Christmas. Looks like Edwin’s family goes with the quick, efficient method of celebration.
Sometimes, a nice, simple, straight to the point celebration is the best way to do holidays. The Mariners came to someone else’s house (for an entirely made-up holiday, mind you) and respected all the customs. Aside from Félix getting slightly lost in the sauce, everyone was mindful of their surroundings, and avoided stepping on anyone’s toes or committing an embarrassing faux pas. I’ll take that every day of the year, and twice on half-Christmas.