How to follow the action if you can’t get the tickets

By ANDREW WINEKE

Herald Writer

It’s not always easy, but for any real baseball fan, it’s worth it. I think Sting said it best:

"Every breath you take,

every move you make,

I’ll be watching you."

It’s the mantra of every true-teal Mariners fan.

With a 1 p.m. start to today’s Game 2 of the American League Championship Series, the question is, how?

Back in college, I worked at a grocery store. Sometimes, when there was a really big Husky game, they would play the game over the speaker system. It seemed harmless enough, but people complained, and the managers pulled the plug.

However — and here’s the point of this story, so pay attention — that was NOT the end of the matter.

We would call for "price checks" or ask for "manager’s key on check stand 12," and then an accomplice hiding in the office would hold the intercom up to the radio and we could listen to the game for a minute.

At least until the customers got really impatient.

OK, so I was a horrible cashier. The moral of the story is that, with a little creativity, even people with very little freedom in the workplace can stay abreast of every ball, strike and line shot into the gap.

Similarly, in high school, we would hide our Walkmans in our backpacks or our jackets and run the cords up to an earpiece. This usually worked flawlessly, but the system ran into problems in gym class, ironically, and was asking for trouble if you sat in the front row in algebra.

Today, everyone in the newsroom seems to gather around one of the TVs for at least the last two or three innings. When you’re slacking, there’s clearly safety in numbers.

If you don’t have televisions in your office, or you don’t have a quorum of lazy baseball fans to support you, there are still other options for following the game.

Since the Mariners’ breakthrough 1995 season, armies of software engineers have been working feverishly on Internet-enabled work avoidance techniques. CBS Sportsline, Yahoo and ESPN all offer "live" play-by-play updates on their Web sites.

I say "live" because they’re usually a half-minute or more behind the live broadcasts. This can be a real killjoy if someone listening to the radio starts cheering and dancing while you’re waiting for the page to refresh.

Some other ideas:

  • ????Sick day. There’s been a nasty cold going around, and if you start coughing now, you could be seriously ill by the first pitch.

  • ????Delivery. Gotta make some copies, drop off the car at the shop, pick up a doughnut for the boss. Whatever. Get in the car and either head straight to your local sports bar or drive in circles while you listen to the radio.

  • ????Miniature TV. Pardon me if I get a little emotional about this one. I had a little TV, until some weasel broke into my car and ripped it off. In any case, there are two problems with portable televisions: 1. The tiny LCD screens usually aren’t sharp enough that you can read the score. NBC never puts up the scores anyway, so this may not be such an issue. 2. You can’t get any kind of reception north of Lynnwood, in my experience. If only they had little, tiny satellite dishes …

  • ????Friend at game with cell phone. This would probably have to wait until Friday’s game, of course, unless you have a lot of (rich) friends in the Big Apple. Still, I have seen quite a few people doing this. I can’t imagine what you could actually hear. The public address speakers are usually indecipherable even when you’re at the ballpark.

    The most important tip of all: Find an understanding boss. Maybe one that will let you put the game on the loudspeakers.

    Good luck. Go M’s.

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