As the Tigers and Mariners game started this evening and Justin Verlander and Kevin Millwood embarked upon what would start to feel like a tremendously long game, I fired up Gmail chat and pinged Moira Koskey down in Portland, OR. As Austin Jackson took a Millwood fastball for a 2B ride to center field, Moira’s youngest son, Graham, decided that it was as good a time as any to attempt to wash his hair with an entire bottle of dish soap. After that particular fire was put out a few minutes later, we sat down to chat about the Mariners in general, the game in progress, and a few other things. Please excuse any formatting issues, it turns out that copying and pasting directly from the chat program presents a little awkwardness with WordPress’s templates. We got through it.
S331: Well, this is starting out…uh…like a Mariners game.
MK: UGH yeah, basically. I was thinking it might be rough to come up with some happy thoughts during a Verlander/Millwood matchup. (break for Graham emergency) Ok, that was unpleasant, let’s proceed. How many runs did the Tigers score while I was away?
S331: Only the one. 😉
MK: OH dear, Millwood.
S331: So how long have you been a fan of the Seattle Mariners?
MK: I’ve been a fan since 2001, which is the point at which I got the internet in the Northwest. I moved here in ’99 but didn’t have any sort of media, no TV or anything. I had 3 computer nerd/indie rock boy roommates, and eventually I rallied them to buy a TV and get cable, because they were tired of hearing me shout aloud in response to ESPN’s Gameday.
S331: How did you become a Mariners fan? I can imagine it would have been fairly easy in 2001, but was there a defining moment where you were like “OK let’s do this”, or did you just sort of fall into it?
MK: First of all, I was a Cubs fan growing up and the M’s seemed a lot less depressing. I started really paying attention because a friend of mine from Japan was super excited about Ichiro, and he promised to help me make a sign in Japanese that said “Ichiro! Do Your Best!” if we all went up to a game. That was May of 2001 and I was pretty much madly in love from that point on. And you’re right, the entire team at that point was SO easy to love. Subsequent years have proven more challenging, but there’s always someone to like.
S331: Indeed – so that kind of answers what I was going to ask next, which was who is your favorite player. Given your son’s (Brendan) middle name, I’m going to take a stab at it and say that Ichiro Suzuki is where it’s at. Any other favorites over the years?
MK: I still have a very soft spot for John Olerud, I have a really vivid memory of when he was a Yankee late in his career and he came up to bat. It was heart wrenching for me. There have been a lot of dudes that I’ve been fond of over the years, and some have been far more ill-advised than others; at one point I was pretty certain Luis Ugueto was going to be a Big Deal for us. Ichiro is definitely my all-time favorite player in all of baseball, and of course I adore Felix. I’m pretty excited about Seager right now, and I love Ackley although I’m not sure why it’s taking him a while to take off. I guess I don’t have any real original choices for current favorites. Kawasaki is certainly hard to dislike! Michael Pineda was my little baby, my reaction to the news of his trading was inelegant and undignified. Chris (Moira’s husband) actually thought that someone in my family had died. I feel like right now the team is in such a state of trying to find its identity.
S331: Don’t worry, you weren’t alone with the Pineda thing. As far as favorites, I think that there is a certain charm to some of the players we like that are “ill-advised”. I would be nothing without Garrett Olson. How about least favorite players?
MK: Ha! Garrett Olson!! Loved that kid. Least favorites, hmmm. That’s tougher. Am I ready to earn serious hatred? Because I have to tell you, the only guy I can think of as least favorite- and God forgive me- is Griffey. Hear me out!! First of all, I wasn’t into the M’s when he was a hero. I know he was a very big deal to Seattle, and I can respect that, but when I got into the Mariners his departure was still a pretty raw wound. I think it was deflected somewhat when A-Rod earned the hatred of basically everyone in the universe. But more than that, I really think he threw the team off course when he came back for his second year instead of retiring after that one great year with the M’s. I think his attitude was poor and he messed things up generally. The way he retired still feels pouty and immature. I think he would have done the team a service by retiring after one year, and leaving on good terms with the whole thing.
S331: I’m with you there, too. I liked him coming back because it gave me my best year of baseball to date, 2009. I loved that Ichiro was so happy during that time, and I loved the whole atmosphere with the team and the bullpen and Mike Sweeney hugging everyone. But you’re right, the end was not pretty, and I think the team and Griffey both deserved better.
MK: Yeah, I really enjoyed him in 2009! He was a nice surprise as a player, and I think he was a great influence for Ichiro. It seemed like the team was really enjoying itself, which is definitely not always the case. So I don’t hate the guy. But he is definitely somebody I’ve ended up having some sour feelings for.
S331: And that can be just the worst. I don’t want to dislike anyone in a Mariners uniform, but man, it hasn’t been easy. So this game is going about as I kind of thought it would…(at this point, the Tigers were up 5-0, in only the second inning)
MK: This game…no good. Yeah the phrase “and Prince Fielder scores easily” is not a good thing.
S331: Slow motion replay does not do that guy any favors!
MK: GOD , 5-0!! I really wasn’t even looking at the score, terrible!! Yeah, honestly a camera doesn’t do Fielder many favors.
S331: Amen. So you mentioned earlier that you were a Cubs fan at one point? Tell me a little about that. The Cubbies seem like a family team, something that is handed down from generation to generation…
MK: Well, there is a little family history there. First of all, I had a great Uncle Elmer that loved his Cubbies and that was a nice way to bond. Also, I idolized my mom’s brother, my Uncle Brendan (hence the first part of Brendan Ichiro). He lived in Chicago and liked to watch the Cubs as well. My immediate family was relatively ambivalent, but the Cubs became a sort of security blanket for me. We moved around a lot when I was little, but WGN was always a part of basic cable. I would come home from school and watch the Cubbies and feel connected to something even in an unfamiliar city or after another shitty day in a new school. Baseball was always nice to me even when all the teachers couldn’t pronounce my name and the kids were jerks.
S331: Do you have any other teams you follow at all? Is there still a little Cubbies love, or did moving to the Pacific Northwest sort of overwrite that for you?
MK: I have some residual affection for the Cubs but I really don’t follow them anymore. I also have a fondness for the Diamondbacks, my little brother writes for a D-Backs blog called AZ Snakepit and I’ve met a bunch of his fan friends; they are all awesome and weird in a way that I totally get.
MK: Awesome! It’s probably Jim, the main guy who does their twitter account, the way Jeff does Lookout Landing. Side note, Jim is Scottish, and heckling umpires in a Scottish accent is basically one of the most delightful things one could ever hear in this life.
S331: I can imagine!
MK: Anyway, I am mostly all Mariners now, partly because my life is pretty busy and I don’t have much time to do much else, but also because frankly the M’s take up all of my baseball emotional energy. I can’t invest in anyone else. This team is exhausting.
S331: So since we’re all one big cozy family on Twitter now, how do you feel about the Mariners use of Twitter and social media in general? I get the impression we’re one of the few teams that does that to the extent that we do.
MK: I LOVE the Mariners on Twitter, I think they do a great job of making themselves accessible and making the fans feel like an important part of things. I feel like they pay attention to a part of the fanbase that might otherwise go unnoticed, people that are die-hard fans but can’t always get to the games. Twitter has become a huge part of my baseball experience overall. I am too far away to go to games very frequently (also I’m poor!!) but I still feel like I’m participating and communicating with other fans. So I think it’s really smart of the Mariners to recognize and participate in that!
S331: I know you couldn’t make it to FanFest this year, but they had some players taking over the @Mariners account, sitting at a desk on the main concourse…
MK: I remember reading that from home, and it was so cool!! It made my sad little heart happy to feel like I was kind of in a weird way communicating with Jason Vargas. If I’m honest with myself that’s probably the only way I could actually communicate with him, I would get all weird and awkward and starstruck.
(Brief break to discuss the possibility of Tigers manager Jim Leyland being tossed from the game over a strike call)
S331: Ok, so I have to ask this one…what the heck happened to your blog? As I had decided to make my writing more public, I found your Mariners Housewife blog online, and then Deanna’s Marinerds blog, and I got really excited about both of them (even though at that point Deanna was well entrenched in writing about the NPB), because I had found other women writing about the Mariners. And shortly after I found you – if memory serves one of your last posts was about Adrian Beltre – you made the announcement that you were moving to Portland and had to stop writing. What made you make that decision, and have you ever considered coming back to the world of blogging at all?
MK: Ugh, it killed me to quit totally. The main factor in shutting it down was the fact that I was pregnant with Graham and I was SUPER sick with that guy. I was also working at the time and trying to get started with going back to school, and I knew I had to let something go. (Also this was the 2008 Mariners, so they were kinda easy to let go.) As far as coming back to it… I have definitely thought about it. I don’t know how or when but I would be very surprised if I don’t start writing about these jerks again soon. They’re jerks that I love though, like my kids. The thing for me is that my fan-ness, (if that is a word which I know it isn’t), is really tied up in my mom-ness, (also not a word). And I want to write about that somehow, but it’s tricky to figure out how to make that work. Part of the problem is that it’s going to take a tougher skin; almost any time I mentioned anything along those lines on my old blog I would get at least one email or comment along the lines of “SHUT UP STUPID LADY NO ONE CARES ABOUT YOUR SNOT NOSED KIDS.” That is a direct quote, by the way. I’m very maternal about my Mariners, and that’s probably what keeps me coming back to them; they’re like my little baby guys, and even when they frustrate me and annoy me I don’t just give up on them. I just sigh heavily and figure this is just another phase that they will hopefully outgrow.
S331: Well, people can be awful, but speaking as someone who has been looking lately for another angle to approach writing from, I think we all have different experiences with baseball – it’s one of the main reasons I’m trying to do fan interviews – and I find those angles fascinating. If you ever get back into it, I’m sure that you would have a good many readers. So we’re almost wrapping up here, but I have to know a few more things. I’ve got to know the least favorite team. We all have at least one.
MK: Oh good, I was hoping you would ask that!! I cannot STAND the Angels. They are The Worst. They all seem like sullen spoiled California jerkfaces (although I’m sure some of them are nice and their moms all love them) and they just completely lack any sign of an appealing personality whatsoever. I was perversely delighted when they signed Pujols (well ok, not at first, it took me a while to process) because it is going to be that much more fun to super, super hate them. I even lost any fond feelings I once had for Torii Hunter. I was at that game last year in May where he dropped what ended up being the winning run in the bottom of the ninth and I was SO HAPPY he blew it!
S331: Man, you do hate the Angels!
MK: I know, I take great delight in it.
S331: We all have to hate one. I have to admit to Yankees dislike due to the “bully on the playground” vibe I get from them. But I completely respect the team for their history, so it’s a double-edged sword.
MK: I feel that way about the Yankees to some extent too, but the Angels are a closer target for my baseball evil eye. It’s very cathartic.
S331: I have recently picked up a taste for booing the opposition, which I never really had before, so I completely understand the catharsis. Lastly, why baseball? Football and soccer both have fewer games, hockey has a few fewer games, why torture yourself with 486+ hours of terror every summer?
MK: That made me laugh. Yeah, I know, right!? I like to joke that football fans think they’re so tough, but they only have to handle it 16 times a year (or however many, I don’t even know.) For me there’s just something special about baseball that’s hard to define. The pace gives me a chance to slow down and breathe, I look at it as somewhat meditative. It’s beautiful from a geometric standpoint, and it’s a very intellectual game. Maybe some of it is about celebrating our short northwest summers. But the bottom line is that baseball grabs my heart the way nothing else does.
S331: Soccer is often referred to as “the beautiful game”, but I think you’re right, baseball is just perfect. Anything else you’d like to add? I know you’ve got some kidlets to put to bed…
MK: I think I covered almost all of it… except that I still have that “Ichiro! Do Your Best!” sign and now I want to take it to a game with me again. 🙂
As I’m posting this, tonight’s game is ending and we just lost on a Jesus Montero pop up with the bases loaded. Don Kelly made a diving catch into the lower bowl over multiple Mariners fans who were all trying to catch what they thought was going to be a neatly-hit foul ball, but it was our last out to end the game with a final score of 6-4 Tigers. Brandon League was once again brought out in the top of the 9th inning. It is here that I bail to go to sleep, since I have to be up in seven hours, and I am not getting any younger no matter how hard I try. Major thanks to Moira for putting up with my first go at this. You can find her on Twitter here, and in Portland watching baseball on TV and stocking up on dish soap for Graham.