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    Our balls on ice

    Has the last Seattleite with local pride turned out the lights? A recent trip to Safeco Field makes me wonder.

    I need to set the record straight. I recently wrote that "If someone ... asked me to lower my testicles into a martini glass filled with ice, I would not do it." That's not really true. What I meant to say was that I would not do it without proper compensation.

    The entire fabric of our society is held together not by whether you should dip testicles into a martini glass but by the idea of a fair exchange of money or goods for something of equal value. Break that contract and society itself breaks down.

    The dangers of social decay came to mind as I engaged in what has become an annual ritual: attending a Seattle Mariners game.

    Yes, I know I'm crazy to be so obsessed with the M's that I take in one whole game a year. I used to share season tickets and take in many more games, but I just can't quit those crazy guys.

    As I sat in the outfield and watched the M's swept by the Boston Red Sox on July 23, however, I realized I was having all the fun of freezing my balls in a martini glass without fair payment. In fact, the compensation was all flowing in the wrong direction. I was paying more than $100 for tickets, peanuts, lemonade, and a hot dog for the rare privilege of watching the Mariners roll around in their own excrement. Why, I wondered, aren't the M's paying me to watch? The market is out of whack.

    Social contract? Fair exchange? The national pastime as played by the Mariners is as corrosive to the American way of life as, well, engaging in torture and throwing out the Geneva Conventions. It's baseball's equivalent to ripping up the Constitution to eavesdrop on citizens — not that we'd ever do anything like that in America.

    The game I witnessed was a fiasco. The Mariners played without fire, made key mistakes and errors, blew chances to win, took the game into extra innings, then fell apart. They had Willie Bloomquist at shortstop, failing to stop balls. They had Willie Bloomquist at the plate, failing to hit balls. Then they moved Willie Bloomquist to center field, where he inexplicably dropped a ball and cost the M's the game. It was hardly all Willie Bloomquist's fault — he wasn't pitching or umping — but he was more the team mascot this day than the Mariner Moose.

    Even before the final out in the 12th inning, seagulls began to circle over the infield as if it was the city dump. They seemed to know that a comeback was unlikely. Maybe they'd learned to spot Willie Bloomquist from way up there. End this misery, they seemed to cry, and let us recycle this garbage.

    The game's most entertaining moment, one that brought all the fans to their feet at once, occurred in the late innings when a half-naked guy bolted onto the field and broke a few tackles before being sacked and hogtied by security. It was perhaps the only time in the history of modern, politically correct, Barrack Obama-loving Seattle that the people stood and cheered for someone with a Confederate flag tattooed on his ribcage.

    Lest you think this is a story about baseball, let me make clear that this day at the game was about something more. Seattle, as you know, is being humbled in its sports ambitions. We've lost the Sonics to Oklahoma City, the Mariners are not simply one of the only teams that has never been to a World Series, they are the worst team in baseball, period. Our civic sports hopes are pinned to a changing of the guard with the Seahawks and a new professional soccer franchise partly owned by right-wing gameshow host Drew Carey.

    But I witnessed something at the game that took our sports — no, our civic — ignominy to new lows. A large percentage of the fans, I guess about half, were Boston Red Sox fans. Which meant that on the M's own home field you could not tell from the cheers whether the home team had scored a run or been called out. And these fans were openly carrying signs and wearing Red Sox red t-shirts, hats, and jerseys, as if they were in Fenway Park. Worse, for the most part they were the cooler, hipper, and better looking other people in the crowd. They also seemed more interested in baseball than the Seattle soccer moms and dads and their kids who trooped endlessly up and down the rows in the middle of innings in search of pink and blue cotton candy.

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    Posted Wed, Jul 30, 6:16 p.m. Inappropriate

    To make an estimate of Seattle's Future: To make an estimate of Seattle's future read the comment thread on Morrill's latest...

    Balls, yes Balls, may be just what's needed. As for me, I'm looking for some water east of the Cascades to float mine....


    Posted Wed, Jul 30, 7:19 p.m. Inappropriate

    You have no balls: You lost me after your first failed scenario.

    Posted Thu, Jul 31, 5:49 a.m. Inappropriate

    Seattle pro sports has no balls (except for the Seahawks?): Let me try to explain, though I'm not sure if Mr. Berger will appreciate my translation, but then again the customer is always right, be it reader or spectator, no?

    What's really going on with Seattle Sports is the folks WITH BALLS in this region are sick of Seattle. Seattle was once a destination, but due the increasing burdens of their cash sucking the 100 dollar a person sport date just isn't appealing, even if otherwise affordable.

    Four dollar a gallon gas is presumably making this much worse for the Mariners this year, so perhaps the tag line shouldn't be 'Balls on Ice', but Balls sitting in gasoline....

    FWIW, though the prima donnas in Seattle would like to believe the seattle centric light rail plan will increase their regional dominance may very well likely have exactly the opposite effect.

    After all what is more important, the summer youth baseball game down the street or the overpaid folks in Seattle?

    Now, there are certainly a few people in Downtown Seattle who command the prices of worldwide competive victory, but not nearly so many as they'd like to believe, and that may well be their problem, as well as the Mariners.

    What we are talking about is the effect of small things on much larger arenas - a single dropped 'ball' can cost a team an entire season.

    For that reason, the Seahawks, perhaps as much for the historical quality local ownership in the Nordstroms, as well as the pretty good current management of Paul Allen, may well survive.

    A bigger challenge would be for KIRO 710 who gets the Mariner contract back next year. Personally, I'd be sceptical about a particular radio station having an effect on a team like they might think they do. But they are going to get a shot at it, and who knows, perhaps because of the price of gas people will re-discover the joys of listening to the game on that medium.

    After all, they were made for each other, no?

    Posted Thu, Jul 31, 5:58 a.m. Inappropriate

    The Mariners' management has no balls: And neither do you. This is a management that won't let you wear a "Yankees suck" T-shirt in OUR ballpark, harass gay women who kiss each other, and frisk you at the gate because you might -- heaven forbid -- have water in a bottle. This is in a stadium that WE paid for, mind you!

    Yet you continue to patronize this team, and support this failed management? That's because YOU have no balls! I won't support them until Howard Lincoln and Chuckles the Clown Armstrong are run out of town on a rail.

    Posted Thu, Jul 31, 8:21 a.m. Inappropriate

    Some cities are more sports crazed, and some of their fans live here: It's kind of hard to get people in to cheer for the home team when your town is full of people from other cities more sports-crazed than here. Some cities simply care more about their sports teams than others, especially cities that don't have as much to do outside the city as this one does. It's not a fair comparison to rate the home team against Boston - who just won the World Series and has a huge fan base, some of which lives here.

    I think you might have a chance if everyone who has moved here actually stays here - their children stand a good chance of being more of a local sports fan than their parents.

    Until the team gets better, the Mariners will have to depend on opposing fans coming to watch their team play. I know this problem well - I'm a die-hard Pirates fan (Mariners are my adopted American League team), who are on their way to posting their 16th consecutive losing season. Going to a game when I'm in Pittsburgh is always judged against what team they are playing and whether or not they have some sort of promotion going on (Boggle head, Fireworks, etc).

    Posted Thu, Jul 31, 8:45 a.m. Inappropriate

    A true Boston sports fan: My brother-in-law is from the Boston area, though he doesn't live there now. He's a sports fan, and a Boston fan, so that means he roots for every Boston team, everywhere. Doesn't matter where he lives or what the sport is; he's a Boston sports fan thru and thru.

    He was visiting me recently (in central NY; alas, I no longer live in Seattle), on the weekend of the Boston Marathon. I asked him if, given how much he loves Boston teams, he roots for the city in the marathon. He immediately said, "yeah, that's right -- if enough people don't finish, the city wins!"

    I don't think he's unique. Too bad Seattle doesn't have more fans like that.

    Posted Thu, Jul 31, 9:05 a.m. Inappropriate

    Why the label of Drew Carey?: Knute, I don't understand the point of this line in your piece.

    "Our civic sports hopes are pinned to a changing of the guard with the Seahawks and a new professional soccer franchise partly owned by right-wing gameshow host Drew Carey."

    What has Drew Carey's political leanings have anything to do with his ownership of a soccer franchise in Seattle? What specific actions in Seattle has Drew done to warrant this label? I just don't get it.

    Posted Thu, Jul 31, 9:18 a.m. Inappropriate

    Solution is Clear: If Seattle wants to become a real major league city, and attract both the teams and the throngs of fans, what the city needs is a domed stadium.

    Oh, wait...

    Posted Thu, Jul 31, 10:44 a.m. Inappropriate

    RE: Why the label of Drew Carey?: Is Carey really a right-winger, or is he more of a libertarian? Seems to be some confusion out there, no thanks to him.

    Posted Thu, Jul 31, 10:59 a.m. Inappropriate

    RE: Why the label of Drew Carey?: In areas that are democratically controlled the Libertarians do end up on the right side of the balance of power.

    Ron Paul's Houston area district was Democratic until Reagan, so arguably there the Libertarians are more Reagan democrat types. Curiously the predecessor incumbent whom Paul defeated had switched from D to R just one term previous.


    Posted Fri, Aug 1, 3:45 p.m. Inappropriate

    RE: Solution is Clear: Safeco does have roof, but holy christ it's cold when it's closed & it doesn't keep out the rain, kind a like the old Crapdome.


    Posted Sun, Aug 3, 10:30 a.m. Inappropriate

    Safeco vs Fenway: On Monday's game of the series, I wore my subtle grey Red Sox shirt.

    After having my purse searched for bombs (or whatever they're looking for), they guy at the gate said, "Welcome to Fenway Park!" as he took my ticket.

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