The way that we consume baseball plays an important role in why, and how, we enjoy it. Of course for me and most others, the overwhelming majority of my baseball watching experience was through a television (or at least some kind of screen). A staple of this experience for me has always been the final game of any given day coming to a close. Monday night, actually Tuesday morning, the Yankees and Mariners game was the final major league contest to finish.
One of the most satisfying things about baseball is how so many things serve as checklists to be completed. Like record chases and the quest for round numbers, a day’s slate of games functions in a similar way, and there’s a satisfaction that comes with checking all of those boxes. The charm of the last game isn’t due to just that though, there is a certain peace and calmness about it. Nothing else is going on in the baseball world, a lot of times the in-stadium crowds have thinned out and are a bit subdued, and it’s often past 1 a.m. on the East coast. And it almost always feels like it’s taking place in Seattle.
Right around the time Mitch Haniger singled in the bottom of the eighth, Josh Bell struck out in San Diego to wrap up a game against the Giants. After this, the Yankees and Mariners were the only ones left playing baseball. Headed into the ninth inning, the crowd had indeed thinned out quite a bit, even the visible seats behind home plate more were empty than occupied. Following a break in the action, due to an injury and subsequent pitcher warm-up, Josh Donaldson and Eugenio Suárez chatted at second base. Ryan Ruocco and Cameron Maybin, on the YES broadcast, discussed the marine layer that comes into T-Mobile Park toward the end of games, and the air and ocean scent it brings with it.
The Yankees scored twice in their half, thanks in part to a loud (and contradictory) home run from Aaron Judge. When it was the Mariners’ turn, the crowd appeared to continue to slowly thin out. Clay Holmes came on to finish the job, as well as the slate of big league games of the day. To be fair, he did try very hard to ruin the sentiment of what I’m writing, having a hard time hitting his spots, but he did the job nonetheless.
Suárez got hit by a pitch, in pain but without much reaction. Carlos Santana struck out looking, with a half-hearted argument to the umpire to follow. All the while, on the camera angle near the Yankees’ dugout, over Holmes’ shoulder, someone can be seen slowly escorting their kids from their seats and up the stairs. There is a definite tiredness in the air, as there usually is in these games. This is fair considering it’s a five-run game in the last of the ninth. This feeling also might be due in part to my to my own personal tiredness, as it was approaching 1:30 a.m. for me as an Eastern Time Zone inhabitant. The lens through which we see these things certainly effects how they make us feel.
Seattle’s 7-8-9 hitters mustered two singles and a fly out, none of which were hit particularly hard. Finally, Holmes got Adam Frazier to ground right back to him, and he flipped to LeMahieu at first for the final out.
Throughout that inning, there were no other games to keep an eye on or news to watch out for around the league. And in a general sense, it was late, and a lot of people’s primary concern at that moment was simply going to sleep. For a little while, it was just the Yankees and Mariners playing baseball by themselves, the final chapter of another day of baseball.
These feelings may only really be applicable to my fellow East coast baseball-watchers, or this may just be me preaching to a crowd which only I occupy. Even if that’s the case, it’s one of my favorite parts of watching baseball, and there are surely other niche things any fan feels is a weird and perfect part of the game.