The Five Stages of Being a Mariner Fan
This article originally appeared in the July 2008 issue of The Grand Salami.
I only needed to read one sentence in the News-Tribune about the previous night’s Mariner game: “Sexson strikes out with bases loaded.” I shrugged, closed the page, and proceeded to read about politics. Contrary to past seasons, I didn’t look at the box score and take solace that some of the M’s players were doing well. Nor did I scream out against consistently using the most expensive Beer League players ever.
That’s because I’m in the fifth stage of being a Mariner fan: Apathy. Make that, utterly, hopelessly apathetic. And we haven’t even reached the All-Star Break yet…
For those of you unfamiliar with this system that I have just created, I will break it down for you. The first Stage of Being a Mariners Fan is Hope. Yes, everyone (including me) starts the season thinking This Is The Year. Last season, I had that Hope all the way into August, when I gave the Mariners a $4,000 six-month interest-free loan in the form of payment for playoff tickets. But this year, all the Hope I had was crushed back in January when I heard the first report that Adam Jones was taking a trip to Baltimore for a physical. So when I was reading spring training reports about how the Mariners were going to go all the way this year and wondering if the team has more influence over the media than George Bush does, I realized that I skipped Stage Two—Trepidation—altogether and was already in Stage Three: Anger.
It’s honestly painful to start off a season being so angry at a team that has been a huge focus in your life. When the Mariners actually pulled off a win on Opening Day, led by the pitcher whose trade had led to my descent into Anger, I rained on everyone’s parade. My friends asked me to stop looking at Jones’ and George Sherrill’s performances on the east coast and welcome our new ace, the pitcher who was going to lead us back to the postseason. While some of my friends had hope in April, I was still mired in my Anger.
I remember the day like it was, well, just two months ago. I was sitting in the freezing cold and sulking for four of the longest innings that any baseball fan has ever had to suffer through (such 40+ pitch innings I now dub “Batista Innings”). Then I remembered a basic lesson from Economics 101: Sunk Costs. I shouldn’t have to suffer endlessly just because I had paid for the tickets. By staying at what could qualify as a pathetic excuse for a Little League game, I was paying for the Mariners to waste my time. My time was better spent doing something else—even if that something turned out to be catching up on episodes of A Shot of Love with Tila Tequila. As I left the stadium wondering why the “brains” behind the organization couldn’t come to the same conclusion and dump all the high-priced non-performers and start the rebuilding process, I realized I had succumbed to the Fourth Stage of Being a Mariners Fan: Extreme Anger.
One of my friends is in that stage right now, and I’m trying very hard to help him through this difficult time in his life. I try not to have an “I told you so” attitude when he texts me from the game about former manager John McLaren’s inability to put together a lineup that can score more than two runs. I listen to his rants about overpaid veterans who can’t lay down a bunt. I feel bad, because a big part of my friend’s Extreme Anger is from forking over his hard earned money for season tickets. I know how miserable I would feel if I had spent several thousand dollars to watch the equivalent of the first half of the Bad News Bears 62 times this year. However, I think his recent acquiescence over the fact that I was right in not renewing my tickets may be a sign that he is joining me in the final, interminable stage of Being A Mariners Fan.
I knew I hit the Apathy stage the other day when I decided to sell the tickets to one of the few games I had bought tickets for (at a loss) and go to a Death Metal show instead. And as I stood in the pouring rain for an hour waiting for the show to start and listening to a debate about how to survive a crocodile attack, I could see Safeco Field rising out of the mist a few blocks away. Instead of the usual chills I feel whenever I see a sports stadium, I felt nothing. And even after the show started and my eardrums were bleeding and I was spending the majority of my time trying not to get beat up by female skinheads, I never once thought that I should have gone to the game instead.