Dear Western Canadians:
Please go away.
Safeco Field served as home for the most important Mariners game of the season Monday night — maybe their most important in, oh, 15 years — and you turned the place into a Toronto Blue Jays fan fest. From the moment the gates opened until Roberto Osuna’s strikeout of Ben Gamel, the Jays basked in the kind of affection the Seahawks have come to expect at Three-and-Out Field.
The attendance Monday was 34,809. I was among the nine fans who didn’t wear a Blue Jays jersey. I sat in the left field bleachers with four friends who also didn’t wear a Blue Jays jersey.
By my reckoning, there were four other people, somewhere in Safeco Field, who didn’t spend a perfect night for playoff-race baseball rooting for the wrong team.
I saw my first major league game in 1962, and over the past 53 years have been to just about every park in both leagues. Never have I witnessed a contest where visiting fans occupied more than 99 percent of the seats.
What made the scene especially infuriating is how all the visiting fans paid attention, cheering the fourth-inning strike of a Mariners batter with the same gusto a borderline ball-two call given to a Jays hitter in the fifth inning. Every pitch mattered, as if something were at stake.
Don’t you buffoons realize you were in Seattle, on a mid-September night after the start of school, and that nothing really matters during a mid-September baseball game in Seattle except the hydro race on the video board?
I don’t want to make this personal, as I’ve enjoyed the time I’ve spent in Western Canada. The 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver operated with an efficiency that found me thinking of British Columbia as an ideal site in a Winter Olympics rotation needing permanence.
If your prime minister, Justin Trudeau, ran for the highest public office in the U.S., he’d reduce the candidates in our 2016 presidential election to the equivalents of mid-major college football teams established as 35-point underdogs at Alabama.
And “Oh Canada,” your national anthem, it’s like: No fair. One country on this continent offers a pregame anthem that arouses the latent singing voice in everybody, and the other poses as 17 miles of road construction for anybody who hasn’t starred in an opera.
You’ve got a lot going for you, Western Canadians, but you crossed the line Monday night. You took over Safeco Field, assuring the Blue Jays of an advantage not apparent when the 2016 schedule was released.
“It’s incredible, how many fans showed up for this game,” Jays starting pitcher Marco Estrada said after his team’s 3-2 victory. “It’s awesome being a Blue Jay and seeing all of the love and support we’re getting from all of Canada. It gave us a lot of energy in the dugout; we were all very excited to be here. It’s just a lot of fun, playing in front of so many fans.”
That Estrada was able to play in front of so many fans makes me wonder: Do any adults work in Western Canada? For those who rode a bus from, say, Vancouver, the trek for a Monday night game in Seattle meant returning home in the wee small hours of the morning.
I put the question to the Blue Jays supporters in the bleachers.
“Don’t any of you work?” I asked in a tone that would’ve been interpreted as confrontational by the Red Sox fans who fill half the seats in Safeco Field for an annual three-game series.
“What’s it to ya?” a Bostonian retorts. “Ain’t any of your beeswax, bozo.”
But you Jays fans just smiled. You watch the games on TV and listen to the games on radio, but Toronto is not next door. Toronto is only slightly more removed from Western Canada than Iceland.
You were having a blast, attentive on every pitch, nonplussed when some loudmouth from Tacoma asked if you were employed.
When the game was over, I strapped on my not-quite-full backpack.
“Hey, don’t forget that,” said a Blue Jays fan in the row in front of me, pointing to the binocular case I’d left.
You guys see everything. You’re convivial and informed, virtues vital to a regional rivalry the Mariners have never had.
Go away, and while you’re away, work on getting the big-league baseball team you so deserve.