Several years ago I attended a Seattle Mariners baseball game with my bother Mike. The Mariners were playing the Toronto Blue Jays, and we went out for a few drinks before the game right next to the stadium. I was amazed by just how many Blue Jays fans there were in town for the game. They were all over the place.
Now, although I grew up in a baseball family, as I got older I kind of lost interest. The games are just too long and there are too many of them. However, going to a game in person is pretty cool. Mike is still a hardcore Mariner fan, which I respect. On this night the Mariner’s star pitcher Felix Hernandez was pitching, and the Mariners won the game. However, the result is far from the most memorable aspect of that night.
Our seats were pretty good, right next to, but not actually in, the “K Zone” where the Hernandez heads were. Over the course of the first few innings, Mike downed several more beers and he got a little rowdy, as he sometimes does. Mike, in Freudian terms, has more than a little “id” in him. As I mentioned, there were a lot of Blue Jays fans in town and Mike, as a good Seattleite, took this as a challenge. As the game went on he began calling out, loudly, various Canadian cities.
“Calgary suuuucks…Winnipeg suuuucks…Lethbridge suuuucks.” Like that.
I found this all pretty amusing, if a little unorthodox. It wasn’t how I would chose to enjoy the game, but this was Mike’s style. As the Mariners built a lead Mike’s chants started to escalate, and some Blue Jays fans began to take offense. Probably this was the point. These dudes were looking at Mike, pointing, saying things. There was no real risk of a fight; however Mike was mixing it up no doubt.
Around the 5th inning or so another dude in a Shawn Kemp jersey started making noise of his own. (Shawn Kemp was a star player for the Seattle SuperSonics back in the day before some asshole stole the franchise and moved them to Oklahoma City. Fuck that guy.) At first this was all fine, because anyone in a Sonics jersey was OK with Mike. However the Sonics fan started getting a little out of line and dropping the f***** slur.
“Look at this fucking f*****. Fuck this f*****,” stuff like that.
As far as I could tell there was no reason that this guy had to target an individual in this fashion. The difference, as I saw it, between his action and Mike’s was that Mike was basically operating in good humor and calling out all the Blue Jays fans present in the spirit of friendly competition, while the Sonics fan was picking on an individual, and using a slur. Although the exact nuances of the difference are perhaps debatable, the dude was definitely out of line.
Mike noticed this guy and didn’t like what he saw. He began saying so, and someone not in our group took notice. This other guy, in regards to the Sonics fan, said something to the effect of “he’s ok in my book.” Mike didn’t miss a beat at he uttered the classic line, one I will never forget. “That’s a bad book,” he said. That’s all he said; he didn’t challenge the guy to a fight or anything, didn’t even directly address him. The Sonics fan was getting so abusive that someone called security, and he was escorted out.
“That’s a bad book,” reminds me of my friend from high school Cameron Turner who liked to say of something he didn’t approve “that’s sick, and wrong.” Both of these are super memorable phrases, and highly redolent of the person behind them. Mike was a little lit. Mike was razzing Blue Jays fans as a collective. Mike was attracting attention. At the same time he felt that there was no need for gratuitous gay slurs. And he was right.
One of my favorite phrases in the world is “that’s some bad action.” Mike was speaking in the same vein with “that’s a bad book.” I’ve never been prouder of anyone in my life than when Mike called this guy out.
I fuckin’ love my brother Mike.