Hello and welcome back to FanPost Friday. This week I want to talk about something that struck me last week about a very specific and unexpected silver lining hidden in the currently crowd-free games being played at T-Mobile Park.
Everything about games being played without actual cheering crowds is strange, but we’ve come to accept that as part of the 2020-ness of it all. We’ve got piped-in crowd noise, which varies in nature of intrusiveness and falseness from stadium to stadium. There’s the deafening silence when the road team does something good and hearing their players holler at each other much more clearly than usual. And then there are the cardboard cutouts of fans stationed all around the stadium, particularly in the sight lines of the most common shots of home plate from the centerfield cameras and the dugout camera wells on each side of the diamond. In some fancier MLB stadiums and in the NBA Bubble League, they’ve gone full “Blade Runner” with green screen fan images, moving and reacting like .gifs. The Mariners, and many other teams, took a more tactile approach with cardboard cutouts, and for that I’m thankful. The cognitive dissonance is much easier to get past when it’s a static, physical object.
For $30 (a portion of which goes to All in Washington to support COVID-related relief efforts), you too can join the Mariners Seat Fleet. The unexpected wrinkle comes from the fact that the photo does not have to be of yourself. The first example of this I noticed, besides the Mariners placing their own Hall of Famers and other local sports stars, was Dee Gordon having his daughter, wife, and his mother all sitting together in the stands.
Dee Gordon just jumped into the box seats and hugged three cardboard cutouts of family members during BP.— Corey Brock (@CoreyBrockMLB) July 31, 2020
As you may know, Dee’s mother, Devona, was murdered by an ex-boyfriend when Dee was six years old. She never got to see her son grow up and make his way to Major League Baseball, let alone meet her granddaughter or daughter-in-law. And yet, there they are, represented on cardboard cutouts, sitting together at T-Mobile Field. Watching Dee play baseball.
A few days later, I received a message from a good friend telling me that his step-dad had purchased a Seat Fleet spot for his own mother, who had passed a few years ago. Kyle Seager was her favorite player and she was even buried with some dirt from the third base area. She wasn’t able to attend many games in the final few years of her life for health reasons, but as my friend’s step-dad said, “Now, she’ll be at every game.”
My friend told me this was the first time something caused by the pandemic had made him smile.
It’s been a struggle to find joy this year. Sure, we’d all rather just be able to go baseball games in person like a normal season, but the fact that some people have taken this opportunity to publicly celebrate the memories of their loved ones in such an unexpectedly touching way is just about the best we can hope for in a silver lining.
So, that brings me to the prompt, this being FanPost Friday and all.
Have you purchased a Seat Fleet spot for a deceased family member or friend? Or perhaps for someone still living who wouldn’t be able to attend the games anyways due to mobility issues or otherwise? Tell us about it in a FanPost or just post a comment below. I’d love to hear your story.
Be kind to each other. We’re all grieving someone or something at this point, whether it’s a loved one, a specific experience, or a missed opportunity. Hang in there and find joy where you can.