Tuesday, April 30, 2002


Some entrepreneur spent his time and money making and selling "Yankees Suck" t-shirts outside Taxpayer Stadium -- excuse me, Safeco Field -- while the New York Yankees were in town to play the Seattle Mariners this past weekend.

As a transplanted New Yorker who became a Mariners' fan during the team's improbable but exhilarating dash to the pennant in 1995, I have long waited for my adopted town to become true baseball fans. You know, like Yankees fans.

As a boy who practically grew up in the upper deck of Yankee Stadium (general admission seats just $1.50), I learned from the best how to scream, shout, boo, catcall, wheedle and tease both home team and visitor alike. On days when the Stadium was filled to the rafters with crazed fans, seats would be thumped like drums and vocal chords would be sacrificed for any chance that Roy White or Bobby Murcer (or Lou Piniella) would send home the winning run. When I moved to Seattle, whose team played like its AAA cousin 40 miles away in a concrete burial mound I grew to call the Kingdump, I was appalled at both the minimal attendance at games and the almost golflike quiet that fell upon the Home nine. I vividly recall one shout I made -- at an opposing player, no less -- that could not only be heard throughout the empty and cavernous structure, but drew the first of many disapproving stares from fellow spectators. (You could not call them fans.)

I will always be a fan of the Yankees, but I was pleased to learn the other day that those "Yankees Suck" t-shirts were available to the discriminating Mariners fan. (For that matter, I suspect, the entrepreneur in question could sell them on the Internet to the other dozen American League teams plus fans of the New York Mets, who probably regard the Yankees even more malevolently than AL aficionados.

And then -- in a move so totally Third Millennium Pacific Northwest -- the Mariners would not permit anyone wearing those shirts to actually enter Safeco Field. (Could it have something to do with being named for an insurance company?) The shirts in question were offensive and therefore against the team's code of conduct for spectators.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. Last year, when I lustily booed Bud Selig at the All-Star Game -- the man who stole the Seattle Pilots, for crying out loud! -- the people around me in our hundred-dollar seats in the nosebleed section gave me the same kind of look one would expect for hocking a loogie in church. These are, in fact, the same fans who think they're cheering Edgar Martinez when they sing-song his first name. Clearly they missed the idea that the Red Sox fans were taunting Darryl Strawberry in 1986 when they sing-songed his name. (Not that it helped them any.)

What's next? What other wry banter or sly irony could be considered by Mariners management to be offensive? Will fans wearing green be ejected from Athletics games? Those in red be tossed from Angels contests? What about someone with Tourette's syndrome? A bad hair-do? A smokers' cough?

I think the Mariners need to update their guide and include it with every ticket sold. In the interim, here (subject to change by Mariners' spokeswoman Rebecca Hale, who, by the way, used to be an actual journalist) (although I guess if she had actually been good at it, she'd be covering the war on terrorism or the trial of the alleged Green River killer) are some t-shirts that may not be worn by visitors to Safeco Field:

* A-Rod Stinks
* Derek Jeter's House Is Messy
* Jorge Posada Slurps His Soup
* Jason Giambi Lets His Peas Touch His Potatoes
* Alfonso Soriano Forgot To Brush His Teeth
* Robin Ventura Doesn't Mow His Lawn
* Roger Clemens Has Coffee Stains On His Furniture
* Andy Pettitte Wears Wrinkled Clothes
* There's A Button Missing On Bernie Williams' Blue Suit
* Shane Spencer Steals Ketchup From McDonald's
* Mariano Rivera Doesn't Polish His Shoes
* Joe Torre Doesn't Wash His Car
* Rondell White Missed A Spot While Shaving
* Mike Mussina Has A Floormat Missing In His SUV
* Orlando Hernandez's Hair Is Mussed

As you can see, all of these are quite offensive and youngsters and sensitive types alike should not be forced to read words of such rudeness.

The worst of all, however, would be to wear this t-shirt. It's so rude, so offensive, so horrible, so unmentionably obscene that any baseball fan would attack you for forcing it into his or her line of sight. So... that t-shirt you have with George Steinbrenner's face on it? Never, ever, ever wear it to a game.


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