The Seattle Mariners released their 2019 commercials today, unveiling four brand new 30-second spots that will infiltrate your television all summer. Some of them are better than the others.
SpeeDee: 4 out of 10
The premise of this commercial, and try to stick with me here, is that Dee Gordon is fast. So fast, even, that he has is own NASCAR-style pit crew while rounding the bases. Get it? Because he’s fast, like a racecar! You’re forgiven if this concept is going over your head. Cinema contains layers, you see.
For as charming and gregarious as Dee is, it feels like the Mariners could have done more with him beside going for the low-hanging speed fruit. Nothing about this commercial is necessarily bad, per say, it’s just a little unimaginative. Everybody already knows that Dee is fast. If not for Dee Gordon’s unassailable charm and Hollywood smile, this would have been a complete swing and a miss, rather than a weak dribbler through the hole. One particular frame from the outtakes did present excellent meme fodder, though.
With several new players this winter speaking highly of Dee as a leader or mentor or brother, something with him showing the new guys around like a tour guide or sharing a bunk bed with Mallex Smith would have been Oscar-worthy in both the screenplay and acting categories. More bunk beds in the future, please and thank you.
Hanimal Fanimal: 1 out of 10
This one is just, uhhh, awful? On several levels? And feels low key insulting to the fans?
Maybe that’s a bit of an overstep, but from a bare bones perspective, this commercial is “Haha, our fans are obsessive weirdos. Who would ever get excited about Mitch Haniger liking their tweet?” (Answer: every single person who would attend a Mariner game.) Even worse, in this hypothetical scenario—which is based on a Haniger catch that happened in real life—the play is still going on! Why actively choose to portray Mariner fans as clueless to the actual rules and game play of baseball? Rather than helping the face of the franchise get to his feet, this dude instead hovers over Mitch like he just finished harvesting his organs.
This is what I imagine sleep paralysis feels like. Conscious but unable to move, caught between wakefulness and sleep, with an unwanted demon visitor asking if you want to go to Alki with them.
This ad is weird, and cringey, and makes a random actor the focal point over literally the beST PLAYER YOU HAVE ON THE TEAM! Mitch Haniger is a budding superstar, and you have him in a supine position on the stadium floor surrounded by discarded peanuts. The concept of fans being cuckoo for Mitch isn’t horrible, but the execution of this particular ad is. Although, if I’m being fair, the continuity of these 30 seconds were pretty good. Creepy Brad is wearing a teal jersey, just like the fan from this actual game clip who is seated closest to Mitch’s landing spot.
Writer’s note: Probably not a great idea to depict your extremely online fans as overzealous, tormenting people, when, you know, the first people who are going to watch these are the extremely online fans. It’s 2019, let’s stop reducing the internet to a digital cave of psychos neurotically hoping for their favorite player to notice them. People build entire careers on the internet. Getting noticed online by people you admire is cool, and wanting Mitch Haniger to follow you on Instagram is a perfectly normal desire. Having this fictional fan do it during a game while the ball is still live just pigeonholes the fans as know-nothings who care more about selfies than the baseball game happening 10 feet in front of them.
Moving Target: 6 out of 10
Kyle Seager is a wonderful actor. His understated delivery and on-point facial expressions perfectly convey his emotions while not feeling forced or overdone. In every one of these commercials Kyle has graced, he really just seems like he’s playing himself, and produces legitimate comedy without stepping too far outside his comfort zone. He is the Mariners’ Paul Rudd.
Mallex Smith debuted his magnetic personality in this ad, but like Dee Gordon, was shoved forcefully into the “You’re fast! Let’s run with that” narrative. Still, as our film critic Tim Cantu theorized, Mallex is the Nicolas Cage of Mariner actors, in that the script can be bonkers and we’ll still gladly watch every second of it. (Writer’s note: Mallex Smith is significantly more attractive than Nicky Cage can ever hope to be.)
This commercial has the makings of a cult classic, where hardcore fans appreciate its cinematography and editing while casual fans just laugh at Kyle Seager’s big ol’ head. Isabelle Minasian called it the indie movie that does well at Sundance but is met with an uncertain reception from a national audience. Either way, having Kyle and Mallex on your TV while the Mariners make pitching changes doesn’t seem like a bad thing.
Arts & Crafty: 8 out of 10
This year’s breath of fresh air comes, perhaps unsurprisingly, from Marco Gonzales and Wade LeBlanc, aka the Saoirse Ronan and Greta Gerwig of the Seattle film scene. The duo works so fluidly together, inhabiting each other’s best qualities and seamlessly working in harmony to create beautiful art.
“I call it sad batter” is far and away the best line from any of this year’s ads, made even better by Wade LeBlanc’s flawless delivery. Even the minute details of this one feel spot on. Thumbs up to whoever decided to put a framed photo of Jamie Moyer in the background. I could also totally imagine Marco Gonzales making quilts in his spare time, or Wade being that guy whose genius craft ideas are slightly undermined by his subpar crafting skills. Sad Batter, while hilarious, will not be appearing in a museum any time soon.
The cameos in this film are what really separate it from its competitors. Yusei Kikuchi bursts on to the scene like Timothee Chalamet with a boyish joie de vivre and a classically handsome face. All signs point to an illustrious on-screen career for the Japanese star. Finally, the King makes what could be his last appearance in a Mariner commercial, and uses the platform to playfully poke some fun at himself. Félix plays the role of other to perfection, in what may be a subtle indication that he knows his role has changed. In transitioning from main actor to a supporting gig, Félix lets the new wave of pitchers cook, while still reminding them that he has something left in the tank. For that, we award Félix the Michael Caine award for knowing when to take a step away from the spotlight.
For those who are interested, you can watch the bloopers from this year’s commercials, and get a behind-the-scenes look at how they’re made.