Reviewing The 2013 Seattle Mariners Commercials
The big news surrounding the Seattle Mariners right now is nothing. The lesser news is that Kameron Loe and Jon Garland are probably going to make the team, and Jason Bay is also going to make the team, and Casper Wells is going to make some other team. That last bit is probably good for Casper Wells but it’s probably bad for us on account of reasons I don’t need to go into. There’s plenty of discussion right now about what the Mariners ought to do, and how the Mariners ought to play. The regular season is actually just around the corner, and then there will be one hundred and sixty-two baseball games. But I thought I’d provide a break from the analysis and roster consideration by turning an eye to this year’s crop of commercials. The commercials came out a week and a half ago, so by Internet standards they’re old news, but they were released the day after I left Lookout Landing and the day I traveled to Arizona so I haven’t had a chance to review them yet. Below you may review them with me, if you’re interested in amateur reviews of baseball team commercials. If you’re interested in that, you might also be interested in other things, but you won’t find any of those other things here. Just amateur reviews of baseball team commercials.
Here is a link to all of the commercials. We go in the order in which the commercials are presented.
The Wise Ol’ Buffalo
Here we have a commercial featuring Brendan Ryan and a buffalo. Not just that — a commercial featuring Brendan Ryan and a buffalo that takes Ryan by surprise, given that the commercial begins with Ryan suddenly turning around. “Hey wise ol’ buffalo” is immediately one of my favorite lines in the history of these team commercials, owing both to its absurdity and its enthusiastic, casual delivery. The concept is brilliant specifically because it doesn’t make any sense. But I’ve an analytical mind, and I have to wonder about a few things. For one, why does Ryan appear to be alone on the field? How did he not notice the buffalo looming behind him? Why would the Mariners be okay with players teasing another player with a big live buffalo? I remember chatting with a friend some years back who was in a cabin in North Dakota, and he couldn’t leave the cabin because it was surrounded by buffalo, and they didn’t want to let him out. Buffalo are strong and unpredictable.
More, Ryan basically just invites the buffalo to go into the Mariners’ clubhouse to have some cookies. I can’t imagine a buffalo would even fit through a door, but Ryan talks as if this has been going on for a while. Tom Wilhelmsen confirms as much to Jesus Montero, saying he’s been pranking Ryan for six months. The spot takes place during spring training, meaning Wilhelmsen followed Brendan Ryan with a magical buffalo for the duration of the offseason. I’m not saying it’s impossible; I’m just saying it…requires a hell of a commitment to a joke, all for the sake of getting some free cookies from a guy who isn’t a professional cookie-baker. What did Ryan’s family think of the buffalo? I have even more questions.
Hottest Thing In Town
Though shy of spectacular, this works for me, and while I don’t know how many times I’ll be able to tolerate it, the answer’s probably higher than the number of Mariners games I’ve been able to tolerate the last few years. I don’t think it works if Felix isn’t Felix. By which I mean, Felix’s accent sells it. This commercial probably wouldn’t be that funny at all with Justin Verlander. But skip ahead to 0:16. “And sport drinks!” Or, “ann SPOR drinks!” Felix nailed it with his delivery of “I’m Larry”, and he nailed it again with his delivery here. One’s reminded that Felix has a superstar personality to go with superstar talent. My only quibble is with the guy reaching for bubble gum right as the teammate beside him grimaces and takes out his bubble gum.
Focused & Relaxed
I mean, the players all get dressed in the same place, right? They don’t just show up at the ballpark in full baseball uniform? It would be possible for no one to notice Michael Saunders’ feet. It would be possible for no one to really notice or care about Michael Morse’s t-shirt. But there’d be no hiding Kyle Seager’s full-body silk pajamas. Seager would be wearing his pajamas, and teammates would be like, “what’s up with the pajamas?” People would talk about the pajamas, so no one would be taken by surprise by the pajamas. It would be probably the least conspicuous thing in the clubhouse. And how long has Seager been wearing a breakaway uniform? Is that a breakaway belt? What if the uniform broke away while Seager was diving? No, no, it doesn’t make any sense at all. What’s going to allow this commercial to survive and even be thought fondly of is that there are going to be context-free .gifs of Kyle Seager stripping off his uniform. As a standalone image, it’s hilarious. As part of a story, the story is weak.
If Dustin Ackley gets all those letters, just imagine how many letters the Mariners’ good players must get. On the other hand, maybe Ackley was just letting the mail pile up for a while — Eric Wedge seems surprised by Ackley’s behavior, as if this hasn’t happened before. But then, Ackley says he can’t let his fans down, implying that he wouldn’t wait to open a package. It’s a nice gag to have Ackley put everything on and then make a play in the field. Apparently I still remember that scene from Friends where Joey puts on all of Chandler’s clothes, so it can make for a memorable image. But I’m worried that this might turn out like the Justin Smoak commercial a year ago, where Smoak was billed as some big strong dinger hitter before he was established as such. What if Dustin Ackley is bad again? Then it’d look weird for Ackley to be sold as a regional fan favorite. It’s not like people love him for his personality.
The weird thing A weird thing about “One Wish” is that it features a Mariners fan making several different wishes. And all within seconds or minutes of one another, apparently, making you wonder whether he’s just like this all the time. That would make him so annoying. How does he have property? Something I definitely don’t get is why every wish isn’t just about the World Series. Isn’t that the whole thing? Wouldn’t that work better with the name of the spot, too, if the fan just made the same wish over and over, about the Mariners winning the championship? Why would his first wish (that we see) be about just a winning season, where the Mariners might not even make the playoffs? Most bizarrely of all, the genie lamp works! Raul Ibanez shows up in the guy’s house! Because the guy wished for Raul Ibanez, of all things and people. The first time we see the genie lamp, the guy is wishing for a World Series. Did the Mariners effectively just guarantee that they will win the World Series? That strikes me as bold. To me, the main selling point here is Raul Ibanez saying “I have no idea how I got here” while looking around, bewildered. Tell me about it, Raul.
Names of children:
Picture of children:
So I’m terrible at estimating the ages of children, mainly because I don’t have any of my own, nor do I hang out with them. But don’t most of those children look about the same age? How would that have been physically possible for the wife? We know we’re not dealing with an adoption situation, given that at the end of the commercial the man is preparing for sex. Even though for some reason the wife is apparently cuttings things off at nine instead of ten. Someone has a lot of explaining to do. I’d say that, for the Mariners, it’s somewhat daring to include sexual overtones when advertising a family-friendly product, and I appreciate that, but for me the commercial just doesn’t work because the joke isn’t good enough to have me ignore the logical holes. Honestly I would’ve been more interested in 30 seconds of the husband philosophically exploring what it actually means to be a diehard fan. Should we consider it a positive or negative character quality?
We can probably expect “The Lineup” to go away after a few months, if and when the Mariners trade Kendrys Morales. The others seem like they have lasting power, but as a crop overall, I’m going to choose “mediocre” as my adjective. I’ll admit that I don’t know what other teams are putting out there, and you can’t expect the Mariners to come up with six segments of brilliance. They’re a baseball team and they have far bigger priorities. And there are some memorable images, like Brendan Ryan talking to a buffalo, Kyle Seager ripping off his uniform, and Dustin Ackley wearing a Goodwill donation bin. I’m going to chuckle every time Felix says “sport drinks!” But if the old Mariners commercials were actually as good as people remember them being, then these don’t measure up. More likely, people remember the good and forget about the lame, because the past typically tends to be overrated, but I think here there’s room for improvement. And we’re the people who have to sit through hundreds of airings of these things. We should want for them to be as tolerable as repetitive commercials can ever be. Maybe that’s an impossibility. Maybe my standards are impossible.
Our progression of Mariners team slogans:
- 2010: believe big
- 2011: ready to play
- 2012: get after it
- 2013: true to the blue
I don’t know what it actually means to be true to the blue. If I had to guess, the Mariners wear blue, and this year’s Mariners intend to adequately represent the Mariners franchise and all of the attendant organizational principles. What would it be for the Mariners to defy the blue? What principles would they disobey? Would they win? The blue hasn’t done very much winning. Maybe they’re going to be true to some other blue, like Dodger blue. Points for ambiguity.