O’Neil: Like annoying house guests, Blue Jays fans have worn out their welcome at Safeco Field
Don’t worry, Seattle, the annual infestation is over.
We have endured the three days of our northern neighbors who come to our baseball park with their “Ehs?” and their Jays and turn into the rude house guests that make you roll your eyes and look at your watch.
And you thought Oregon Duck fans were bad? Turns out they’re nothing compared to the group of over-eager Canadians who are showing up in increasing numbers each year at Safeco Field when Toronto is in town.
Not that I blame them entirely. We’re talking about a country where most of the population chooses to live within shouting distance of the border and where curling is considered a sport instead of the drinking activity that it so obviously is. And if Mariners fans don’t buy up the bulk of the tickets to the series, why shouldn’t the Canadians flock south to see the one Major League Baseball team the entire nation has?
I’ve found the migration amusing the past couple of years. It’s introduced some tension and excitement to a stadium that has seen far too little of that over the past 15 years, but I was certifiably annoyed after Sunday’s game. Now, part of that was because the Mariners were shut out, losing to the Blue Jays for the second straight game, but mostly it’s because our neighbors to the north have gotten just a little bit too full of themselves.
Exhibit A: The woman two seats down from me started griping when my wife stood up for all of two pitches in the seventh inning. She complained about the people behind my wife having their view blocked when a) the woman’s view was entirely unaffected; b) it’s a FREAKING SPORTING EVENT.
Exhibit B: The deep thinker in the row in front of us who wore his sunglasses upside down and tossed out such heckling gems as, “We want a batter not a broken ladder,” when Kyle Seager was at the plate and then shouted, “Pitcher’s got a rubber arm” to Emilio Pagan. If all the heckling you know was learned in kindergarten, you should probably keep it to yourself.
By the ninth inning, I had enough. I was mad at the fact that the stadium sounded like a Blue Jays home game, mad that the Mariners had lost two out of three and definitely mad at the woman three rows behind me who was calling me names for applauding the Toronto right-fielder’s inability to catch a foul ball from Mike Zunino.
Now it’s time for the obligatory disclaimer in which I say that not all Jays fans behaved like ungrateful clods and that most of them are actually pretty polite, which is totally true. I talked with the guy seated next to me and the one in front of me during the game, exchanging hand-shakes and well wishes on the way out of the park.
But there were a sufficient number of jerks that it’s affecting the exchange rate, and so in the spirit of improving international relations, I thought it would be helpful to offer a few guidelines for future visits:
• Would you go into someone’s house and complain about how many people are there to host you? No? Well, then if you’re a Blue Jays fan, don’t come to Safeco Field and talk about the number of Mariners fans present. It’s the kind of thing that makes me want to advocate a “Hoser Tax” in which IDs are checked at the gate and everyone with a Canadian driver’s license has to pay an extra $15 AMERICAN (which is, what, $30 Canadian?) just so we’ll put up with you.
• It’s great to cheer for your players. It’s even OK if you want to heckle individual Mariners, too. But don’t start pointing fingers and yelling at M’s fans. I know you might feel emboldened because you and all your Canadian buddies are at a park where the beer choices aren’t boiled down to Labatt or Molson, but going at the home team’s fans specifically is just asking for a fight, and if that’s what you want, let me interject a personal story right here. In 2000 I visited Victoria, B.C. with two friends. We were at a bar when a group of young men and women entered wearing bright yellow plastic haz-mat suits decorated with drawings of fleur-de-lis and maple leafs and other random slogans. One young man held a wipe board and carried a whistle. He would write a word on the wipe board, blow his whistle and rotate it for everyone to see. For the next 10 minutes or so, anyone who happened to say the word written on the board would be compelled to drink. I assumed it was some sort of fraternity or sorority outing only to learn these were members of the Canadian navy, which was surprising on two counts: 1) I never really considered the question of whether your country had a commissioned navy; 2) I had honestly mistaken members of that navy for annoying frat boys.
• Don’t make remarks about our government, OK? We’re well aware of the issues that exist down here, and we don’t need you coming in looking down your nose about how you’ve got everything figured out when your most pressing social issue seems to be just how many Tim Hortons can be supported in a country with one-tenth of the United States’ population.
Wait. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be so smarmy and say something condescending, but I guess an afternoon of condescension from Blue Jays fans just brought that out of me, which is really too bad.
So I’m begging you, don’t make me dislike Canada. I like your country. A great deal, in fact. Vancouver is a gorgeous city with phenomenal food, Toronto is among my five favorites places on this entire continent and I actually own a Montreal Expos jersey and hat.
But each year the Blue Jays fans have become more emboldened to the point that I fear you’re now worse than the geese that bear your country’s name. See, we should only have to pick up their crap after they fly through as opposed to taking it each year at our ballpark.