The Curse of Section 120

A hearty welcome to Rob Hill, our own version of a non-roster invitee, if you will. We connected with Rob via Facebook, where he's a member of the Seattle Mariners Fan Group, and he was kind enough to share this post with you all here on Hopefully we'll hear more from Rob as the season continues on.

This is the night the curse began. A photo of me and my daughter six years ago, excited to see the Mariners, who had been thought of as contenders for the World Series coming out of spring training that year, turn around a lackluster opening two weeks into the season.

Rob Hill and daughter EmaleeRob and Emalee at the ballpark in April 2015

Despite playing poorly and without energy for seven innings, the Mariners sent up their only hot hitter, the newly acquired Nelson Cruz, with two runners on and trailing by two in the eighth. A chance to flip the game and jump-start the season, I thought. So, naturally, this was an “up on your feet, fans” moment, right?

Apparently not in section 120. While fans elsewhere in the park were standing and clapping and encouraging the team with some noise, there in the elite seats, my daughter and I stood alone and quickly noticed an usher a few rows below us seemingly waving us down.

She can’t possibly be telling us to sit down, I thought. After all, the game was on the line. But sure enough, she approached.

“You need to sit down, you’re blocking people,” she said.

My daughter Emalee, then 19, had been raised right and so knew that this was an offense against the baseball gods. “Uh oh,” she said to no one in particular, laughing. “This is not going to be good.”

“Our best hitter is up with the tying run on base in the 8th,” I pointed out. “You can’t tell baseball fans to sit down and fold their hands in their laps in this situation.”

“Doesn’t matter,” she said “People pay a lot of money for these seats, and some are season-ticket holders.”

Emalee winced.

“Well, then they should be real fans and they should be standing too,” I said, raising my voice.
The confrontation went on for a while, perhaps at a higher volume than was necessary, attracting several bystanders to start up their cell phone cameras, perhaps anticipating an arrest. She emphasized that she didn’t make the rules, just enforced them, and I emphasized that those can’t be the rules for any baseball team that expects to amount to anything and that the Mariners would never play in a World Series if their baseball sensibilities were so poor that they punished fans when they do what their own players say is so important—be supportive and loud and bring their energy to the park. Surely we haven’t become so scripted that we only cheer and “Make some noise!” when the scoreboard or the PA tells us to.

I told her that I understand that the casual fans are important to the bottom line and that giving those people “a Mariners Experience” is important for revenue, but that the “experience” they get should resemble that of attending a baseball game. You can’t be chastising a real fan for standing and cheering on the team appropriately just because the casual fan sitting in the row behind is herself unwilling to stand for fear of spilling her white wine on her sushi plate.

Alas, all of this of course interrupted the mojo I was trying to transmit directly into the bat of Nelson Cruz, and consequently both the magic moment opportunity and the game were lost. And despite an enormous payroll and the predictions of a return to the postseason, the Mariners went on to lose nearly 100 games.

I believe this curse must be lifted by my returning to Section 120 and spilling white wine on the lap of an attractive and well-dressed sushi-eating woman who doesn’t know a damn thing about the infield fly rule.

Rob Hill is a longtime Mariner fan from across the Sound in Union, WA. Used with the permission of the author. Text and photo © 2020 Rob Hill.


  • Posted by Bill Harrison on April 20, 2021 (15 days ago)

    Good commentary on the role of, the importance of, fan enthusiasm!

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