The last time I produced a hand-made sign for a Mariners game was October 8th, 1995, Game 5 of the American League Divisional Series, versus the New York Yankees. I was 10 years old, going on 11, and the intensity of the moment upon us all but demanded block lettering delivered by the likes of Mr. Sketch and Crayola.
Scribed in multicolored print upon yellow poster paper, my entire family worked to craft a giant banner reading “M’S REFUSE TO LOSE.” Unfurled, the message spread a few feet in length and was visible across the vast, grey expanse of the otherwise beautiful Kingdome.
We hung the banner from the facade of the Dome’s third tier, along the first base side of the 300 level. My family sat many rows behind the banner itself, but as the game transpired I shifted my eyes from AstroTurf to DiamondVision, constantly checking the stadium’s big screen for a glimpse of our artistic achievement.
The action played out for a full nine innings, then continued on for two more. Etched in the memories of fans some nineteen years later, the contest culminated in a two-run, two-base hit by none other than designated hitter Edgar Martinez, a scorching line-drive double into the left field corner that drove in Joey Cora and Ken Griffey Jr.
As Junior slid safely across home plate, pandemonium ensued throughout the confines of the venue. Amidst the cheering and the yelling, a video board operator and his camera-operating comrades somehow remained professional, capturing the magic of the chaos and replicating each lasting image as a larger-than-life likeness upon the aforementioned DiamondVision. And there, reproduced no fewer than three times during a celebration that turned minutes into hours, was our family-forged banner, a glowing, goldenrod affirmation of that which had occurred across the eleven innings of baseball 57,411 of us had just witnessed. My brother and I leapt a bit higher off the metallic curvature of the 300 level’s bleacher-style benches each time our handiwork appeared before the masses.
Nearly two decades have passed since a similar moment has generated such artistic inspiration from yours truly. But as the M’s embark on a three-game home series against the pseudo-hated Toronto Blue Jays, the time seems right once again to break out the markers and draw up support for our boys in blue. Rather than the generic passage of positivity my family and I composed back in 1995, however, my warped, twisted mind has come up with the classy missives of scathing hatred you see pictured above. Those memorandums of comedic antagonism will be directed towards our neighbors to the north tonight, as they descend upon Safeco Field like gnats for the next three evenings.
Okay, so it isn’t exactly vitriol we’re spewing at those obnoxious Canucks who call themselves “Blue Jays fans,” but everything we’ve stated upon these sheets of white tagboard is wholly truthful. And the truth, as we all know, stings most of all. French fries doused in gravy? Those do indeed equate to high cholesterol. Simon Fraser? Subjectively, he was a terrible explorer. And have you ever seen a car with a British Columbia license plate parked at a local outlet mall? Angled caddywhompus across painted white lines that serve only as a suggestion to the Canadian driver who left his vehicle awry as he flocked upon our Labor Day discount sales, there is no greater atrocity upon the American people than this.
The signage merely serves as a literal illustration of fanaticism, though. The point of all this, you see, is that now more than ever before, the Mariners need your support. It sounds cliche, cheesy, like a public service announcement, but it’s absolutely true. This team needs your support. And there is no better time to begin showing up and displaying that support than tonight, against the sometimes-hated squad from Toronto.
It starts with the Blue Jays and their well-traveled, drunken fans. It won’t be difficult to get riled up for the coming trio of contests with a loud, Molson-fueled crowd of Looney-mongers encouraging the Mariner faithful in our home park. But this series against Toronto is only the tip of the iceberg.
Of the Mariners’ final 45 games, 26 come against opponents with legitimate World Series aspirations. With a 62-55 record, the M’s remain 1.5 games back of the Kansas City Royals for the American League’s second Wildcard spot and with it a postseason berth. Squaring off against a litany of potentially playoff-bound foes in meaningful contests will build or break this club down the stretch. Every game matters now; in turn, every game deserves your support.
This isn’t rocket science. Your Seattle Mariners haven’t made the playoffs in 13 years. The drought has been insufferable for baseball fans across the entire Pacific Northwest. But now, for the first time in a while, there’s a real opportunity for Seattle to end that dry spell.
For me, it means drawing up a snarky sign or two and performing mock double handjobs with each extra-base hit the M’s knock around the yard. For you, maybe it’s as simple as tuning in or buying a ticket. Regardless of how you choose to back this ballclub, your support will undoubtedly matter. It’s time to be a kid again, to be a fan again, to cheer for your team, to get excited about something worth your excitement.
It’s a Refuse to Lose resurgence. It starts tonight.