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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