Famous In Canada

In the last few years, there’s been quite a bit of hemming and hawing over who is to blame and who should feel shame over the annual Canadian invasion which takes place during the Toronto series, with some pointing the finger at M’s fans who don’t show up and others pointing to the Mariners’ play or special offers that may have been made to discount tickets for Canadian fans, but neither of those do much for those of us who actually attend. This year I decided I’d try to take a different approach to the series and make fun of Canada so the visitors understood they were guests and didn’t own the place.


Megan and I went to Tuesday’s Mariners-Blue Jays game, and after some discussion with Twitter, I brought a handful of Canadian-trolling signs to display. By now, you’ve probably seen most of the signs, since the Mariners re-tweeted the photos I took of them and my mentions crumbled to the ground as I kept getting notifications of likes, re-tweets, and responses, but just in case:


Before the game on Tuesday, Megan and I hung out in The ‘Pen, waiting to show Brad Adam, Bill Krueger, and Jay Buhner the signs while they were on break from the pregame show. As it turns out, the broadcast cameras for Sportsnet Canada also caught me in the act shuffling through several of the signs, and the broadcasters highlighted the signs as they came back from a commercial break. They seemed to have some good fun with it, but they weren’t the only Canadians to notice outside the park.


On Wednesday as I came in to work, I received an unusual DM. A woman messaged me saying she was a reporter from the CBC up in Vancouver. Apparently they loved the signs and would like me to do a phone interview about them. After a little double-checking to make sure the reporter wasn’t counter-trolling, I said sure and slipped into a break room to conduct a 10-minute interview that led to an article posted to the CBC’s Vancouver-area site.


Retweets kept rolling in Wednesday for Tuesday’s tweet of many signs, increasing the total from 500 to 600. Thursday, two more DMs came in; one from CFAX radio out of Victoria, and the other from Rogers, which I understand runs a network of affiliates throughout the country. I spoke live on the radio in Victoria – my coworkers all listening in on the web-stream – and the other interview was simply recorded and I believe it will be posted online if it hasn’t been already.


To my surprise, I wasn’t done though. Friday morning I received another request, this time from a news/talk station out of Ottawa, Canada’s Capitol, and being the friendly American I am, I once again obliged.


When the signs got tweeted out on Tuesday, there was a ton of reaction and my mentions were just too much to handle on the fly, especially because I was having personal interactions with so many people. I decided I wouldn’t engage on Twitter unless I knew who the person was, but let me tell you this: Both in-person and online, Canadians have been very quick to remind me how many Canadian players there have been on American teams that won those Stanley Cups. I find this curious, because I would think that calls into question the Jays’ two World Series what with Robbie Alomar, Devon White, Pat Hentgen, Juan Guzman, John Olerud, Joe Carter and many others being not-Canadian, but I suppose their point is true. I thought the better counter-argument would be the Gold Medal count for Canadian Ice Hockey teams, but perhaps the Cup is such a sore subject that it causes our neighbors to the north to not think straight.


Most of the Canadians at the game took the signs well and appreciated the humor. While we were in The ‘Pen pregame, we stood among a large Canadian contingent, showing off the signs and flipping each other crap. The people were largely friendly and were sort of mystified by the sheer numbers of their own nationality to visit Safeco. When I showed them the one sign in French, most of the folks there said they didn’t know the language, but one woman said she went to French Immersion in school and wanted to try to figure it out. A moment later, she incredulously exclaimed, “You’re making fun of me!” Which was one of the more funny moments of the day.


Aside from this, there was another woman there who was intent on getting Jay Buhner’s attention. Apparently she didn’t even know who he was, but she was persistent enough to convince him to sign one of the signs I had made and to take a photo with Megan.


Of course, not everyone was on their best behavior; there was one man who (jokingly, I think) held out a Sharpie saying he was going to deface the Stanley Cup sign — Though I must say that I take this fairly seriously as a sign-wielder — another in the adjacent section to our seats who dropped an F-bomb and flipped me off in the 9th inning, a guy who was being drunk and mad in the same section, and a third guy on the far-end who seemed to be standing and shouting something negative. Oddly, Mariners’ staff came to check out the signs and to talk to me about showing them during the game, but I can’t speak to if some of the more negative Canadian interactions were addressed.


At the end of the day, three or four guys out of I’m sure hundreds of people I interacted with directly isn’t too bad, I suppose, as every crowd is going to have some belligerents, and I’m pleased to report that nobody tried to take a swing at me, even if some wanted to take and destroy the signs I had made. My feeling at the end of all this is that I’m going to have to come up with some more for next season.


It’s now been a good two days since my last interview on the topic, so it looks like the Canadian attention I’ve been getting is fading. It’s possible, though that the M’s could still go up against Toronto in the Wild Card game, but for now I guess I found out one thing: the exchange rate for 15 minutes of fame in America is something like 72 hours in Canada.

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