The Mariners aren’t just playing bad baseball, they’re playing boring, bad baseball.
It’s like the first three months of the season were this magnificent distillation of all that makes the game so good, and now we’re stuck watching the wrung out husks.
It’s been a good experience, though. No, no, don’t get me wrong, the act of consuming Mariners baseball for the last two months has been grotesque and self-flagellating. But it’s been a powerful learning experience, because I now can empathize with those who say baseball is boring.
Imagine you’ve never seen a baseball game in your life. You arrive at Safeco Field in your borrowed Mariners attire, because that’s what your friend encouraged you to wear to fit in. It’s fun! Teal isn’t a terribly flattering color, but at least you’re surrounded by other blue-green-clad goombas.
Everything is loud, and those goombas keep jostling you as you make your way through the concourse. You wait a long time for dumplings, and nearly keel over when the dead-eyed cashier repeats your total back to you for the third time. A large drunk man steps on your foot, and soy sauce sloshes onto your hand.
You buy a beer, or perhaps a cup of wine, and you calculate how many more beverages you could’ve bought for the same price outside of these gates that are beginning to feel less like they keep others out and more like they’re trapping you inside.
The seats are a festive green, clashing nicely with your borrowed teal, and the harsh plastic curve of the back coerces you to recline your lower back while shoving your shoulders forward.
Men in pajamas take the field. Some look like athletic colonists, with slim pantaloons that bag around their knees, while others look like the “after” photos of weight loss ads, their bodies indiscernible beneath a strange mixture of polyester.
The baseball itself is very small, and as the game begins you’re preoccupied with an internal crisis about whether your hereditary degenerative eye disease has finally caught up to you. You think back fondly to the clear figures and sharp edges of your youth.
The matching men trade places with a different set of matching, pajama-ed men. And again.
There’s movement on the field, then everything settles down.
Some people are cheering. You dump $4 worth of beer onto your shoes when your companion grabs your teal shirt and yanks you back down to your seat.
“No,” they say solemnly, “That’s not what we cheer for.”
They trade places twice more, and then two more cracks in quick succession. This time you’re wise, and continue to try to embed the seat markings onto the backs of your thighs.
The men continue to trade places, with minimal discernible change. You’re not a real Broadway buff, but catch yourself wondering if this is what they based “The Pajama Game” on. You search “the pajama game plot.” It does not appear to have anything to do with baseball, but Harry Connick Jr. made his Broadway debut as Sid when it returned to the stage in 2006. Whoa, Harry Connick Jr. was arrested for bringing a gun to the security checkpoint at JFK? The 90s really were a different time. He seems to have most recently starred in “Dolphin Tale,” a movie about a dolphin fitted with a prosthetic tale. Was it based on a true story? It was! You vow to always clip the plastic rings from your six packs, even though Winter, the real life bionic dolphin, lost her tail after she got caught in the rope from a crab trap and the rope cut off blood supply to the tail.
You’ve gone too deep. You pocket your phone and readjust in your pricey, plastic prison. The figures on the field do not appear to have moved.
You lose sight of the ball as it disappears into the night air. There’s a smattering of applause and people start to stand up. You do so as well, shaking out your legs and turning to your companion.
“Is this what we cheer for?”
“No,” they grumble, “it’s not.”