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I Like Baseball
I love baseball, not so much because I find it fascinating but because I can find it fascinating at will. If I'm at a game or in a bar watching the match on the tube, I can suddenly make myself really really care about who's winning and what's going on. But if I need to, say, leave the bar before the game is over, I can just as easily stop caring and head out the door. I could watch every game in a week, or miss an entire month without any regrets. The minute the Mariners blow a big match I can opt to throw a fit or shrug my shoulders.
Not so for many Seattle fans. We recently had a brouhaha of major league proportions. It all started with this letter, in which ex-Yankees fan Matt Villano labeled Mariner game attendees as a bunch of passive wussies.
People who call themselves "fans" know something about the game they watch. They encourage root, root, rooting for the home team, they stand and clap at two-strike counts, they're not afraid to boo an opponent or a hometown goat, and they always cheer more for a stolen base than for a stuffed Moose (or that idiotic hydroplane race on the Jumbotron). What sedentary Seattleites have proven is that the term "Mariners fan" is an oxymoron. These are the same people who sway like prom dates at a Built to Spill show and drive 50 mph in the left lane on I-5 ... With such somnolent Seattle game sitters -- fans who'd rather read four- sentence out-of-town game summaries on the scoreboard than scrutinize Lou's strategy behind an intentional walk or a safety squeeze -- it's no wonder the Mariners can't beat the Yankees when it counts.Mariners management then deftly proved his point by banning "Yankees Suck" t-shirts at the next game in the name of "avoiding confrontation." Villano, who atteneded that game and wrote a second article in the following week's paper, said "The pathetic M's fans meekly accepted this suspension of their First Amendment rights in the name of a 'good time'."
If Villano's goal was to get Seattle fans worked up, he succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. According to a blurb at the top of The Seattle Weekly's letter page the following Wednesday "Villano's recent articles have got the Weekly inundated with more mail than ANYONE here can EVER remember getting -- more than WTO, more than the Palestinian conflict, more than the 100 Favorite Restaurants special in which we said that Ristorante Machiavelli is closed on Monday when really it's only closed on Sunday." And there followed half a dozen pages of missives sent by Seattleites who either thought Villano was a breath of fresh air or a complete ass. Typical line: "Who are you? The Mariner Moose? No. You're a Yankees fan. God, I can't think of a worse insult to put on you, Matt. Let's just leave it at that."
Incidently, at the next game the Mariners' management dropped their ban on the "Yankees Suck" T-shirt. Why did they cave in? "We didn't want to appear confrontational," they explained.Posted on May 16, 2002 to Games, Seattle