It was a lazy morning in Seattle when the Mariners infield walked into a dive cafe. They had just flown in from a terrible, rainy day in Cleveland, and all they wanted was to enjoy a quiet breakfast together as a group.
As the five fielders walked into the cafe, each dreaming of their own egg and meat based delight, they saw something that shook them to their very core. In the back corner of the restaurant, seated at one of those fancy round booths that you always want to sit at but never have a group of the right size to justify it, was themselves. Their clones, their doppelgangers, whatever you wanted to call them, mere yards away.
No one could move until, finally, Eugenio Suarez started walking to the table. As he approached, he discovered that they weren’t really identical at all. Although they bore an uncanny resemblance, the customers seated at the round table were off in some ineffable way.
“Hey,” Suarez said. “What’s up?” The diners looked up from their meals, and their jaws dropped.
As the two groups chatted and got to know each other, they discovered that the doppler Mariners were actually part of a Beer League softball team. They were the worst in their league, but they had fun. Then, inspiration struck. Doppler Ty France had an idea. The real Mariners had a Wednesday day game coming up. No one goes to or cares about games a 1 pm on a weekday. What if, for one game, these doppler Mariners played defense. The regular guys would still go out and hit, but these other guys, with vibes just slightly out of sync, would handle the infield defense. The real mariners, still drowsy from their midnight flight from Ohio, agreed.
Two days later, it came time for the dopplers to take the field. Filled with anxiety and trepidation, wearing their borrowed uniform and gloves, they took the field with the real Mariners back hiding in the clubhouse. The dopplers were relieved to see Luis Castillo take the mound. Surely the Mariners’ new ace would make things easy on them.
And, for the first three innings he did. In fact, Castillo struck out the first seven batters he faced, a franchise record for the Mariners. The 8th out came on a weak ground ball to doppler Crawford, and the 9th on a flyout that the dopplers didn’t have to worry about. Unfortunely, by now their practice was hours ago, and standing around in the sun doing nothing for three innings wasn’t great for the dopplers’ athleticism. That may come back to bite them.
Meanwhile, the real Mariners were making themselves known at the plate. Julio, for example, hit a ball 403 feet deep straight to center, just barely not enough to clear the wall, scoring Curt Casali, slowest man alive, from first. He was able to move up to 3rd on a 101 mph single by Ty France, and then scored on a Mitch Haniger sac fly. Ty wouldn’t have to stand on first for very long, as Eugenio hit a homer to deep left field to make it a 4-0 ballgame.
In the bottom of the fourth, though, things started to get out of hand. Castillo walked Elvis Andrus to lose the perfect game, but thankfully after Moncada lined out to Julio, the inning ending double play was in order. Unfortunely for Castillo, the doppler Mariners were behind him, and although he induced the ground ball he needed, doppler Suarez and doppler Frazier couldn’t quite get rid of the ball fast enough to get Abreu at first. The inning would continue.
And that’s when the wheels came off. Eloy Jimenez brutalized a baseball, sending it over the wall and cutting the Mariners’ lead in half. Even still, things remained relatively stable until the sixth. That’s when it was made known to all the the Mariners playing defense were not the Mariners we’re used to seeing.
No, instead of one of the premier defenses in baseball, the Mariners tonight were clearly their Beer League dopplegangers. In the 6th, doppler Eugenio bungled a routine play, with the ball bouncing off the heel of his glove, allowing Zavala to reach. Castillo, his eyes suddenly opened to the imposters behind him, lost his grip and gave up two singles, two doubles, and a sac fly to give the White Sox a 2-run lead. As Scott came out to replace him with Penn Murfee, Luis was heard mumbling something like “it’s not them. Why isn’t it them?”
Thankfully the real Mariners were able to it competitive with a Swaggerty walk, a J.P. single, a Julio walk to load the bases for Ty France. Who hit a first pitch weak grounder that thankfully was too slow to become a double play, but was still a groundout. An RBI groundout, but still a groundout. Mitch Haniger then struck out to end the inning and send the dopplers back out.
Thankfully that wasn’t a problem since Festa was able to strike out two of the three batters he faced, and get the other one to pop out. Only two more innings of Imposter Ball to go.
The real Suarez kept on doing his best to support his dopplers by launching his second dinger of the game and tying the game back up.
It couldn’t be enough, though.
In the eighth, doppler Curt Casali was fiddling with his borrowed catcher’s gear. It didn’t quite fit right. As he adjusted his knee strap for the 78th time, he briefly looked up to see that Eloy Jimenez was trying to steal second. He remembered distantly that he’s supposed to do something when someone tries to steal. Oh yeah! He had to throw the ball. Without thinking, doppler Casali hucked the ball as hard as he could straight forward, and straight past doppler Crawford’s glove. Jimenez made it to third easily. And, of course, immediately scored on a groundout.
In the ninth inning, the dopplers stopped pretending to be the real Mariners. On a play that is too dangerous to be seen with human eyes, evil doppler Toro simply gave up on a pop up, thinking that Julio was capable of running the entire breadth of the State of Washington in 0.059 seconds. Julio is capable of many things, but not that. While technically this counts as a base hit, it should go down as an error on ROOT Sports NW for broadcasting it.
What does actually count as an error is the play that immediately followed it. Zavala bunted, and recent reliever Chris Flexen did his best to field his position, but instead decided that he didn’t like the look of one of the fans sitting by the home dugout, and pelted the ball straight at them. Thankfully the net saved the fan’s nose, but Flexen’s play did not save a run and AJ Pollock scored from second.
A sac fly later, and the score was 9-6 heading into the bottom of the ninth. The real mariners, justifiably tired of this baseball game, let Liam Hendriks strike out the side, and returned to the clubhouse, where they firmly castigated their mirror universe selves.
After all, they put up six runs! Six! And while it’s true that the White Sox put up 9, only three of those were earned. I’ve said before that defense is arguably the most important aspect of the game, and I think this game proves my case. The pitching and hitting were both fine, but poor defensive play from the dopplers lost the real Mariners this game.
Here’s hoping that the team takes tomorrow’s day off as an opportunity to ban the dopplers from the stadium. Or better yet deposit them on the top of Mount Rainier where they can live out the rest of their days as a mountain-cave dwelling wiffle ball team where they can never hurt anyone again.