Seattle Mariners fans are hardcore. I know this because I'm related to several of them, and I'm friends with even more. Every season some of the people I love most go to games, embrace the good parts, get sad about the bad parts, and then repeat that process forever. There's always hope that this season will be The Season, but there's a bitter reality, too, an understanding that the Mariners just don't go to the playoffs.
Diehard fandom can be fascinating. A group of people—often different in every other way—bond over one thing, one team, one possibility, and a language begins to form among them.
My nephews Oliver and "Flip" live and breathe baseball, and especially the Mariners. At 14 and 9 years old, respectively, they’re seeing the team they’ve loved since they were in diapers play in the postseason for the first time in their lives. They’re ecstatic. They're throwing around words and phrases like "Big Dumper" and "Swelmet." They're texting French flag emojis like I know what France has to do with a Seattle MLB team having a good game. You've probably seen the same things while scrolling through social media. "Chaos ball!" "Swaggerty!" And people wearing shoes? On their heads??
If you, like me, are new to Mariners baseball and want to learn as much as possible, Lookout Landing is a great place to start. They have everything—jokes, smart in-depth analysis, posts about puppies—and their 2022 bandwagoner's guide is a great read for fair-weather fans. (Finally, fair weather in Mariners land!)
It's a few years old, but former Stranger staffer Lester Black also has a guide to drinking beer at Mariners games here.
You can also check out Brittney Bush Bolay's perfect Twitter thread, which lists every Mariners player and the multiple reasons to love them.
#37 Paul Sewald— Brittney Bush Bollay - w (@BrittneyBush) October 8, 2022
-The People’s Pitcher™️
-Outspoken pro-labor man and certified Good Dude
-Dad energy head to toe incl. his accounting degree
-Has been 40 years old since birth
-Raises money to buy car seats for babies
-Makes little ❤️ for his family when he finishes pitching pic.twitter.com/GZTef0K8py
Should they have paid for their own fucking stadium? Yeah, probably. But we're here now.
Today's game, Game 1 in the American League Division Series (ALDS) against the Houston Astros, starts at 12:37 pm. Here are all the words you'll no doubt see scrolling by on Twitter, with help from Oliver and Flip.
Chaos Ball: A term possibly coined by Lydia Cruz at Lookout Landing, though its origins are uncertain. "It’s just when crazy stuff happens—[Mariners baseball] is unpredictable," Oliver says.
The Electric Factory: "That's what Jesse Winkler called T-Mobile Park after a walk-off." (A walk-off is when the home team takes the lead at the bottom of the ninth—or in extra innings—and ends the game.)
Rally Shoe: “So, the rally shoe is when, I guess, you take off your shoe and put it on your head," says Flip. "Just to rally."
Baguettes and Berets: Fans bring baguettes, berets, and French flags to games to cheer for Ty France. Ty France is from West Covina, California.
The Infield Win Dance: A new feature this season. “It’s celebrating a win—they all get in a circle and dance.”
Big Dumper: Catcher Cal Raleigh’s nickname "because he has a big butt," they exclaim in unison. It was coined by Raleigh's teammate, Jarred Kelenic.
The Swelmet: “When someone hits a home run, they get to wear it. It’s a baseball helmet combined with the Darth Vader helmet. And it’s in Mariners colors.”
Swaggerty: The nickname for utility player Sam Haggerty. “Utility means he can play pretty much anywhere. He loves The Godfather—his walkup song is from The Godfather. Someone told me he made the whole team watch The Godfather, too.”
Manicotti: Swaggerty’s new puppy. OMG.
Walter: “Logan Gilbert’s alter-ego when he’s pitching. It started off as a joke in the clubhouse, I think.”
Los Bomberos: “That’s what they call the bullpen. It means the ‘firemen.' I don't know why."
When it comes to fandom, the why is rarely important. Wear a shoe on your head. Wave around a baguette during the game. And if someone asks why you're doing what you're doing, just tell 'em, "It's a Mariners thing. You wouldn't understand."