Fully ensconced in the bowels of an impending loss, you watch in the silence of your own bitter misery as the Mariners bullpen pisses away a lead like a terrible parent draining their child’s community college fund at the nearest tribal casino.
This is shit, you think. Why am I sitting here? When did I take off my pants? Do I have any beer left, or is this the last one? I should eat dinner soon. No, I still need to go to the gym. I’ll wait until after we hit. The bottom of the order’s coming up? Fuck, I might as well leave right now. No—the bottom of the order has been killing it lately, and there’s no more Zunino. Okay, I’ll stay. The gym is open 24 hours anyway.
“God damn it, what the fuck?!”
The silence is broken by your own tenor, you realize, as a barrage of incoherent frustration escapes you in a moment of mental fragility.
“That wasn’t a ball,” you mutter.
And it wasn’t. It wasn’t a ball. You’re goddamn right. The tracer just confirmed your suspicions. The ump missed that one. He’s missed more than one tonight. He’s probably a Pac-12 ref in his spare time, you think. It’s not all bad. At least you make yourself laugh.
You unmute the TV. “…THEY’RE GETTING SQUISHY OUT THERE…” You re-mute the TV.
You pull your laptop closer to your chin-chest and refresh the page. What does Twitter have to say? Sadness. Only sadness. Mixed with the occasional bout of unbridled enthusiasm. Who is this guy telling everyone to calm their tits? Unfollow him. No, don’t. Keep him around for when shit really hits the fan. Yes. That.
Is this passion or apathy? The lines of fanaticism are blurred within the gray area of perennial futility. Fans are supposed to cheer, provide support, unconditionally love. We consider ourselves fans of the most ardent variety, yet here we are cursing the ether like bums at a bus stop.
What the hell happened to us?
The romantic ideal of fandom involves showing up at the ballpark, hot dog in hand, high-fiving strangers and jubilantly jumping up and down as if transported back to the Chuck E. Cheeses of our youth. We are as far from that fantasy now as human nature will allow us, instead more closely embodying the post-bender persona of a hangover-riddled partier. Substitute cheers for a single eyebrow raised behind a pair of Ray-Bans designed to block out a sun-induced headache, hot dogs for a beverage of sin, and those strangers you could high-five? Maybe just keep your distance, strangers.
Losing – real down home, salt of the earth losing – will do this to you.
Look at Seahawks fans, those silly bastards. They’re so twelving happy, those twelving twelvers. And Sounders fans, ignorant to the soul-sucking sorrow of a losing season, with their entitled arrogance, cocksure and conceited as they smile in their belly-clinging replica kits.
But Mariners fans. Shit. We’re the bad girls, the ones who turn heads for all the wrong reasons, the ones who shroud our deeply-repressed issues behind last night’s makeup, a resting bitch face, and a middle finger or two. We could be beautiful if we just smiled a little.
They don’t know us. They don’t know what it’s like to be us. We’ll smile when the time is right – and only we’ll know when the time is right. Until then, leave us alone and fuck right off. We’ll be fans in our own special way.
You’re wrong about us. We’re a trainwreck, yes. As much of a trainwreck as the team we support. We’re two peas in a pod, really. An absolute mess of a pod. We’re slobs. And we’re nearly devoid of emotion. But we’re here. And when it all gets better, when they win, we’ll let ourselves succumb to the vulnerability of joy. We’ll become sloppy, teary-eyed blubberers, pathetic and hapless in a whole new kind of way.
Not right now, though. Not right now.
You peel yourself off the sofa and rise to your feet for the first time in, well—what inning is it again? The bottom of the ninth. Shit. You were supposed to go to the—aw, fuck it all.
You sit back down. A hit. The M’s just got a hit. A baserunner. The potential tying run.
Maybe there’s hope for us yet.