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About Last Night: The injustice of fan-less baseball games

The North still remembers, you chuds.

Houston Astros v Seattle Mariners
the debt is still unpaid, jerks
Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

In my mind’s eye, I can see it so vividly. The 7th inning during a crisp, late September Monday night home game. There’s a somewhat sparse, but very dedicated crowd—maybe around 15,000 or so on hand. They came to let ‘em know. They came to punish the cheaters. They came to boo the Houston Astros.

So when the Ty France doubled to put the Mariners on the board, breaking up a 0-0 pitching duel between Lance McCullers and Marco Gonzales, the small yet spiteful crowd at T-Mobile Park came absolutely unglued. A raw, guttural release of rage and vitriol aimed directly at the offending party. The large-scale public catharsis continued through the inning as Evan White hit a three-run homer and respectfully flung his bat back toward his dugout for ease of recovery by the bat boy. Kyle Seager got in on the action and drove in two more runs in the bottom of the 8th inning. The fans, delirious with the satisfaction of revenge, were happy with their decision to attend a Monday night game in a mostly-lost season. It was well worth it to be present when the cheating Houston Astros first came to town in 2020. A fan even stormed the field after Dylan Moore was hit in the head by a pitch in the 8th inning and was quickly subdued by security, but this blatantly irresponsible act of defiance only fueled the bloodlust more. The crowd demanded justice.

That is what should have happened for fans last night at T-Mobile Park. When a public figure (or team) does something the majority of the population finds to be unscrupulous and inequitable, the public eventually gets to have their say. They get to let the offending party know that they fucked up and that we, the public, do not appreciate such behavior.

The Astros deserved to be greeted with full-throated boos in every city they visited in 2020. Instead, due to a devastating, cruel and profoundly poorly mitigated pandemic (in the United States), fans are not allowed to attend games. (Let me be very clear here and say that that fans should NOT be at sporting events right now in our hell reality because of COVID-19). The Astros have faced plenty of hostility, rightfully so, from their opponents like the Dodgers and the Athletics, but again, due to COVID-related restrictions intended to reduce contact and shared oxygen between players, the types of physical confrontations between the Astros and everyone who thinks they need to humble the fuck up have been rather prosaic. The worst altercation came after Astros bench coach Alex Cintron said something insulting about Ramón Laureano’s mother AFTER Laureano had been hit twice in the same game by Astros pitchers. So yeah, the Astros haven’t exactly received their full comeuppance for their sins against baseball.

MLB: Houston Astros at Seattle Mariners
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

There have been several times during this absurd 60-game season that I’ve thought to myself, “God damn, THAT would have been a fun game to have enjoyed three $16 beers and some dirty tots (BRING ‘EM BACK) at with some of my best and dearest Mariners fan friends.” The 10-1 routing of the Texas Rangers on August 22 comes to mind, as does the dramatic 5-run comeback last week in the smoke against the A’s. Seeing Kyle Lewis’s Griffey-esque catch in person during the second game of that double-header would have been incredibly thrilling and I’d cherish that moment forever.

But, last night, man. Last night should have been ours. Last night should have belonged to us, the long-suffering Mariners fans, who have watched in horror since 2013 when the Astros drunkenly stumbled into to the AL West only to gradually build themselves into a world-beating team of assholes that repeatedly prevented the Canó/Cruz/Félix Mariners teams of 2014-2018 from ever securing a postseason birth. Last night should have belonged to us, the Mariners fans who spent the last offseason watching in horror as the truth came out that the Astros had been systematically stealing signs and cheating during that entire run of success. Stole signs on their way to winning a World Series. Stole signs while prematurely ending or completely derailing pitchers’ careers throughout baseball.

We won’t forget. When it’s safe to do so, Mariners fans will be there the first time the Astros come to town without the shield of an empty stadium. We will be there to let ‘em know. We will be there to hand out some degree of public punishment and shaming. Rest your voices and prep your trash cans. We will be there and we will be heard.