Editor’s note: Please welcome Idaho native Nathaniel Baird to the staff. Nathaniel is a graduating senior who will be attending ASU’s Cronkite School of Journalism next year and will hopefully bring us some first-look scouting reports from his perch in the Valley. Welcome, Nat!
June 30th, 2018
South-shore Shopping Center Subway - Boise, ID
My eyes light up uncharacteristically bright for a Subway employee as I sit hunched over at the manager’s desk. My eyes fixate on my cracked phone screen as I house frozen pucks of white chocolate macadamia nut cookie dough. The Mariners are 21 games above .500 (!!!!), Nelson Cruz is mashing (Boomstick baby), Edwin Diaz is doing Edwin Diaz things and Dee Gordon is being just as fun and charismatic as ever. Our big brain friends over at analytics website fivethirtyeight two days later would give the Mariners an 81% chance of making the playoffs. Tonight the Mariners are playing the foundering Kansas City Royals. Yet why would I (a standup Subway employee in every sense of the word) be found skipping out on my very important Sandwich Artist duties to indulge myself in something as trivial as a silly baseball game?
That’s right: Turn Ahead the Clock Night V2, Baby!!
- Felix is on The Mound.
- Dee Gordon is patrolling 2B with a backwards hat and making Gold Glove caliber plays.
- Ben Gamel is showing off even more lumberjack than we thought was in him.
Ben Gamel tore the sleeves off the shirt he's wearing under his sleeveless shirt. He is my hero.— Danny O'Neil (@dannyoneil) July 1, 2018
- Edwin Diaz is saving Baseball games! (Number 31 on the season!)
- Nelson Cruz has no sleeves (HE HAS NO SLEEVES FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!)
Since @rchealy25 tied a career high with 4 hits, he got to judge best uniform on #Mariners’ Turn Ahead the Clock Night.— TJ Cotterill (@TJCotterill) July 1, 2018
Sleeveless Nelson Cruz: “That’s pure intimidation” https://t.co/foMrnJJkE9 pic.twitter.com/OBl5NeJ9kH
The Mariners would go onto win the game 6-4, but that’s not what this article is really about. (If you wish to get into the nitty gritty Amanda has you hooked up with the game recap.)
Do these jerseys look good? No, not particularly. Do these look anything like the gurus back in 1998 thought jerseys might in 2027? No, not at all (considering the uproar over a 2 by 1 inch swoosh recently these sleeveless wonders might have been more ambitious than initially thought). But here is the thing: these jerseys were ours, and more than anything they were different.
I was fairly apathetic to the game being played on the baseball diamond, yet found myself feeling the whimsical feeling I got as a young child on Tote Bag night at my local Short A ballpark. This was cool and fun because it was unique and it was different, the two most refreshing things in a sport as old as dirt with stubborn head honchos that permit changes about as often as Braden Bishop drops pop flies.
Yes, it was easy to get invested in this game because the Mariners had been winning, but winning is short-lived. Every team goes through dry spells, so in a ‘what have you done for me recently’-centric society, what keeps butts in seats and eyes on screens?
Turn Ahead The Clock Night was special because if you look past the corny gimmicks it was everything that I have grown to love about baseball in one shiny, futuristic package.
In all actuality a late June game against a team knee-deep in a messy rebuild shouldn't matter. Really there are few baseball games that in the current point of a season you know matter. Yet that’s the beautiful thing about baseball: none of it really matters, but it all matters. Us fans are simple, really; we don’t want wins or splashy free agent signings or big flashy new stadiums. We want to feel special and we want to feel cared about. We want to feel a part of something that matters.
Although I was negative-201 days old the last time Mariners played playoff baseball, it is acts like these that keep me just as engaged as ever. It’s very well possible that the M’s are master manipulators and I continue to fall right into their trap; however, there’s never been a time that I’ve seemed to care. It is these types of fun events that create lifelong fans. My favorite experiences with the Mariners have never been centered around wins or losses but rather the types of teams they field and the things they do.
The Mariners are a fun organization (every organization has its drawbacks of course) and more importantly they field fun players. This was the beauty of Turn Ahead The Clock Night, not the Mandalorians or cheesy space themed ads on MarinersVision. I love Dee Gordon not because he’s an exceptional second baseman, but because he brings me joy through his speed, smile and charisma. Seeing him march around the middle infield looking as swagged out as ever could make any normy M’s fan into a lifer.
Turn Ahead the Clock Night is a pick-your-own-adventure of Mariners fandom. Want to reminisce about the good ole days of Ken Griffey Jr? Sure! Go look back at 1998, when The Kid was still a kid and the Mariners turned it ahead for the very first time.
Want to think forward to 2027 when the Mariners will have won three straight World Series and the Astros are the laughingstock of the entire league? Sure, welcome to the (unrealistic and highly improbable) future!
Yet as a younger fan I preferred to keep it in the present where Dee Gordon, Nelson Cruz and Ryon Healy were enough.
*Edit*: Wait, don’t think you meant to mention Ryon here?
*Re-edit*: 4-4 3 RBI night babeeeeeeeee
Turn Ahead The Clock Night was special because for the first time in my Mariners fandom I felt special. For the first time my optimism for the future wasn’t hollow and unrealistic; rather, it was built on the shoulders of Edwin Diaz’s heroics and the unlikely performances each night like by players like Ryon on TATC.
The Mariners were going somewhere and, hiding between cases of Coca-Cola and frozen loaves of Italian Herbs and Cheese, I was a part of it.
I was no longer a part of the team with a washed King and an overpriced superstar midway through a PED suspension, but transported to the future. I was the fan of a team that was making the playoffs for the first time in 17 years and having fun doing it. I wonder frequently what it might have been like to frequent the Kingdome during our franchise’s glory days and I’ve concluded that it must’ve felt a little something like this. Instead of Ken Griffey Jr, I had Dee Gordon. While the two live in essentially two different universes as far as baseball talent is concerned, on TATC Night Dee Gordon was my superstar, and for the first time, that felt like more than enough.