A Friday night in July with the Seattle Mariners

If things were normal, I wouldn’t be watching a game tonight. If things were normal, the Seattle Mariners would be lining up to play the second of a four-game series against the A’s, two games from the end of 10-game homestand that would have already seen them lose consecutive series 2-1 to the Phillies and the Orioles.

As the Mariners would be sitting somewhere near 36-59 at this point, I would probably have skipped the 2.30am start and hoped I might wake up at 5.30am and get the final outs or any extras.

Things aren’t normal though. And so, at 10.30pm on a Friday night in July, I am sitting on my sofa with a beer in my hand, loading up YouTube to watch a stream of the Seattle Mariners playing the Seattle Mariners in an intra-squad game. And even less normally, I am terrifically excited about it.

Yes, it was stupid, irresponsible and fractious.  I want to be strong and say I don’t care. But the long build up to baseball being back has just got me more excited. Seattle have a team of genuinely exciting players, and I want to watch them as often as I can. Which is why I’m pouring another fancy Double IPA and rearranging the cushions.

22.27 I have loaded up the stream of the game on YouTube. It feels tremendously illicit when it’s 10.30pm and my wife has gone to bed. It’s all a bit seedy.

22.29 The stream is about to start! It says so on the screen! God, I’m giddy.

22.31 T-Mobile Park looks beautiful in the afternoon sunshine. The grass is glowing. Players are milling around, swinging bats and chewing gum. Everyone is smiling. It really is lovely. There’s no other word for it.

22.32 Mariners broadcaster Dave Sims can be heard in the background loudly exclaiming “YEEEHAAAA!” and whistling. “Test test test,” he says into the background. This feels like an adventure for all of us. Yee-haa!

22.34 I spot some of the young players who will form the players in this game –between the Pilots and the Steelheads, apparently – and the 2020 Seattle Mariners.

22.35 Imagine a t-shirt, like those Beatles t-shirts that were popular a few years ago. Plain white text on a black background, the surnames of the band with an ampersand in between them. John&Paul&George&Ringo.

Like that. Imagine one of those, but with the names of Mariners prospects and young players on it. Trying to work out who I’d have on the shirt is tricky. Should I give myself a four-name limit? Five, maybe. Yeah, five. Kelenic&Rodriguez&Crawford&Lewis&Long. Sorry, Jarred&Julio&JP&Kyle&Shed. I think?

22.39 “It’s a beautiful day for baseball,” says Dave Sims, now officially on the microphone and introducing today’s action. Why am I finding this so exciting? I am not entirely convinced that there should be a baseball season this year, and yet here I am getting giddy on my own on a Friday night watching a team play against themselves.

22.43 Jerry Dipoto is speaking with Dave Sims, sort of, in the background. He eventually gets his mic turned up. He’s talking about how good the Mariners could be in a couple of years. We could probably turn him back down to be honest.

22.44 I’m still waiting for the game to start. I glimpse the chat on the YouTube channel and on social media. It’s … different. It’s positive. What is this? The 2,500 people watching this are the eternally hopeful. It’s the first 100% positive thing I’ve ever seen from Seattle Mariners.

22.47 The Pilots take the field behind Justus Sheffield. I have realised I have no pitchers on my t-shirt. Oops. Jarred&Julio&JP&Kyle&Shed&Justus. That’s too long, isn’t it?

22.49 Dee Gordon leads off for the Steelheads. He flies out to Kyle Lewis in centre field, and Evan White comes up. He grounds out to Shed Long at shortstop.

22.56 It’s the middle of the first. The players are working some rundown and pick off drills. It’s like watching a Premier League football team have a quick penalty shootout rather than walking off the field at half time. It’s weird.

22.58 Bottom of the first. Justin Dunn is pitching for the Steelheads. Shed Long makes contact on the first pitch.

23.01 I grab a bag of Hula Hoops. I don’t know if I’m hungry or that I just want to give my mouth something to do.

23.02 OH HANG ON, HERE WE GO, CRAWFORD HITS A HOME RUN ON A 3-2 PITCH!! Well, that felt weird. I got all excited, then had to stop myself. Yes, a homer from our shortstop who hit .226 last year! But then: one of our starting pitchers just got taken yard by a man who hit .226 last year!

23.03 I have a Hula Hoop and try to make it last for the duration of one at-bat. It doesn’t, as Kyle Lewis hits a homer to put the Pilots 2-0 up. That’s back-to-back homers. I imagine if the eternally hopeful weren’t the only people watching this, they’d be saying that Dunn is already shot.

23.05 Confirmed All-Star Daniel Vogelbach slices one foul and the camera team try to follow it bouncing around the empty stands. Good practice for them.

23.11 The sound on the commentary is poor, but there are signs of improvement on the horizon. “Kyle Lewis’ mum, and my wife, have just requested an increase in the sound,” we hear Dave Sims telling some tech heads in the background. The hot mic and the texts from assorted wives just adds to the homely feel of the whole thing.

23.13 Second inning. One minute in, Sheffield absolutely sorts Tim Lopes out. His curve is lovely. Lopes follows this by putting a hit into centre field.

23.16 Dipoto is talking about using Out Of The Park baseball to make better decisions. I’m thinking about a second pack of Hula Hoops out here. That’s the big decision.

23.22 An error by J.P. Crawford puts men on every corner. I’ve realised that with no crowd and no score in the corner of the screen, it’s hard to keep track of what’s happening.

23.25 Sheffield throws a magnificently nasty slider that sorts out the inning. He really does look brilliant.

23.29 Bottom of the second. Evan White makes a SLICK play at first. He appears to be genuinely REALLY GOOD. First name on the t-shirt level good? Sure. Evan&Jarred&Julio&JP&Kyle&Shed&Justus.

23.31 Dunn is starting to look good after that two-run first inning. He gets Fraley on three pitches. I like moments like this. Without playing against anyone else, we can totally convince ourselves that our players are brilliant. We’re locked into a bubble. Watch a Seattle Mariner strike out another Seattle Mariner, and NO ONE can tell us that he isn’t the future of modern baseball and we’re going to win back-to-back championships in 2023. Evan&Jarred&Julio&JP&Kyle&Shed&Justus&Justin.

23.35 Dipoto heads off. Justin Hollander, assistant GM takes over. Nestor Cortes Jr. is stepping up to throw to Dee Gordon, who is wearing an astonishing amount of clothes, including a ‘flash’ mask and a long-sleeved shirt. It’s like watching Joey Tribbiani wearing all of Chandler’s clothes. I am sad that because my t-shirt idea is focused on the prospects and young players, I can’t put Dee Gordon on it.

23.37 A sidearm fastball from Cortes to Evan White sit down is a thing of such beauty that I let out an involuntary “Ahhh” and dribble a bit of beer down my shirt.

23.45 I’ve already lost track of who’s playing on which team. It doesn’t matter. Nick Margevicius steps up for the Steelheads, replacing Dunn.

23.51 Oh MY. Kyle Lewis, backing off, hits an oppo field home run. It’s his second of the day. It was LOUD. It flew flat, like a swift scraping the top of the water to get flies. It is awesome. Lewis is a magician.

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Also, look how cool he looks jogging round here. What a man.

23.54 Good to see the grounds crew getting THEIR practice in, raking over the base paths, a fleet of synchronised athleisure trawlers.

23.57 Yohan Ramirez is pitching.

00.06 Yohan Ramirez has loaded the bases on back-to-back walks, bringing up the over-clothed Dee Gordon, who hits a two-run single. The score is now 3-2 apparently.

00.07 Evan White hits it up the middle and we’re level.

00.08 I have had too many beers now and it’s past my bedtime. I am, however, fairly sure they don’t actually get the last man out. But the scores are level and the bottom of the fourth is on its way.

00.15 Number 65, Brandon Brennan, is pitching to Number 75, Jose Marmolejos. I mean, why am I doing this? Really? I could go to bed now. This is stupid.

00.16 I’m going to get another beer. I can’t add either of those men to my t-shirt.

00.24 My mouth is bored again, so I have a snack pork pie. Taylor Guilbeau is up. He’s one of those relief pitchers that looks a bit like a country singer, and he has a leg kick that looks like he’s trying to balance a loose shoe on a small dividing wall.

00.32 Guilbeau goes walk-infield hit-walk to load it up but everyone decides they can’t be arsed to finish the inning properly, so they have another run down drill.

00.37 Bottom of the fifth. A man called Taylor Williams is pitching. He, apparently, was in Milwaukee last year. I have never heard of this man.

00.47 We enter the sixth inning and I think the scores are tied still? I have moved onto the whiskey.

00.48 Some people have hot takes about the start time of the World Series and how people aren’t interested and baseball loses fans because it’s not on at 8pm on the West Coast. It’s now 1am and I am watching some men mess around with their friends, sitting on my own on a sofa 5,000 miles away, via a camera poked through some wire netting. Baseball is losing fans because you people have COMMITMENT ISSUES.

00.50 Carl Edwards Jr. is on the mound. He gets a ground out, to start the inning, backed up a lovely play from Shed Long.

00.52 Bishop walks. They’re calling Carl Edwards Jr. ‘CJ’. CJ has a lovely line in changeups.

00.59 Dee Gordon just picked his shot by pointing to a nondescript somewhere in the outfield. He then practices bunting, appallingly.

01.03 It’s heading into the bottom of the sixth, and the PA are also practicing for the season. They are playing I Wanna Dance With Somebody. I get the giggles at how I might look right now to the uninitiated, slumped drunkenly on the sofa listening to Whitney Houston in between bouts of watching Mariners utility players run slowly round a field.

01.04 Sam Delaplane is on the mound. Jose Marmolejos, Jake Fraley and Patrick Wisdom are up in this inning. Does sarcasm come across properly in articles like this? “Cool.”

01.08 Baseball appears to still be happening. How has this six-inning game now been going on for 2.25 hours?

01.12 Dave Sims is talking about Nelson Cruz‘s nap room. Do they not know the time? This is like playing the sound of running water to someone who needs the toilet.

01.14 The evening ends with a flyout. That’s it.

I am tired and past my best right now, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. Baseball is back, and I love it and I never want it to leave me. I am off to buy a bigger t-shirt to fit all the Seattle prospects on. Both because I love them all, but also because I keep eating Hula Hoops and pork pies late at night while watching sports.

Seattle might not run the table in the weird world of 2020, but we’re here and we’re exciting. And that’s all I can ask.


Bamos is covering the Seattle Mariners during 2020 as part of the growing team of writers at Bat Flips and Nerds. Follow him on Twitter @applebamos


Make sure you subscribe to the Bat Flips and Nerds podcasts and follow us on Twitter @BatFlips_Nerds. News, views and interviews, all with a British twist.

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