For nearly every game of this coronavirus-shortened season, the exception being two times he wore a “Black Lives Matter” shirt the entire team wore, Mariners manager Scott Servais has worn a variety of T-shirts during his pregame media sessions with the same message: Vote.
He first discussed it the day of the Washington primaries on Aug. 4.
“I think it’s a way for everybody to have a voice,” Servais said then in a video conference. “And I think we need to take it seriously. And it is a way … to make change. It’s something I continue to talk about with our players. I’d love to get all of our players registered and have them vote as well. I think it’s really, really important where we’re at right now.”
But Servais just didn’t wear the shirts and hope his players picked up the message by clubhouse osmosis. He got active, discussing the importance of voting and civil responsibility.
“We talked a lot with our team about a month ago, urging guys to register to vote, it is a way to have a voice, we all have a voice and our vote counts along the way,” Servais said in a video conference Wednesday.
With a roster filled with players under age 25 who had become more vocal on social media about social-justice and political issues, Servais wanted to make sure his players understood that part of speaking out and demanding change is taking part in democracy to help foster that change.
“It’s something I feel very strongly about,” he said. “You know, we talk about change throughout our country. It’s easy to talk about, but how do you actually make it happen? I think voting is one of the way you can make it happen.”
Servais tried to get players registered to vote in the November election. Though several were already registered and active voters, it was more difficult than he expected for some.
“We had great turnout as far as that goes,” Servais said. “Some of the guys it was kind of hard, they’re in flux. These guys are young. Their stuff is over here, but they’re moving to this state, you’ve got to get a driver’s license, there’s different things to go about it. We had really good turnout with it, not everybody was able to get it done.”
As added motivation, Servais said he “created some fun behind it.”
Every player registered to vote had his name placed in a hat for a drawing, with the winner receiving a hotel suite for the final trip this weekend in Oakland. Shortstop J.P. Crawford won and will get four nights at the team’s posh hotel in San Francisco.
Servais did the drawing on the field before Wednesday’s game at T-Mobile Park, and Crawford celebrated wildly with several fist pumps.
Though all the rooms are likely nice at any hotel in which the Mariners stay, having a suite for four days this weekend will be useful. Due to Major League Baseball coronavirus restrictions, the players are not allowed to leave other than for the game.
“The last week, it’s really getting clamped down; they don’t want anything to happen before they go into the playoff run,” Servais said. “So we literally cannot leave the hotel. Once we go to San Francisco, there’s no going to Starbucks, there’s no ordering Uber Eats, you’re at the hotel, you’re locked down. It’s room service. And that’s it.
“So it hasn’t been easy. But I commend our guys, there’s been no complaining, no (complaining) about what’s been thrown at us.”
Message to fans
As Servais wrapped up his postgame media conference after Wednesday’s 3-2 win over the Astros in the final home game of the season, he wanted to reach out to the Mariners’ fans who weren’t able to be there in person — cardboard cutouts not withstanding.
“One thing I’d like to add, and I said it when I jumped on the TV broadcast a little bit there in the second inning. It has really been hard without our fans in the stands. And I can’t give our players enough credit, but I want the fans out there to understand how much they have missed them. It has been a challenge. There are nights when you get in the ballpark and you’re dragging a little bit but as soon as you feel the energy of our fans, it picks you up and it gets the adrenaline going.
“So let’s all keep our fingers crossed that we can put the fans back in the stands next year, because we’ve really, really missed you. We feel your support at home, and I know you’re following the club, but I can’t wait to get everybody out at the ballpark again. You guys are gonna love watching this club in person. So thank you to everybody out there.”
The last bit of hope the Mariners had to make the postseason was extinguished on Thursday night.
First, the Toronto Blue Jays beat the New York Yankees 4-1 to clinch the second American League Wild Card.
The Houston Astros beat the Texas Rangers 12-4, which eliminates the Mariners from being able to take second place in the AL West, which also comes with a playoff spot in the expanded playoff field for 2020.
Shed Long Jr. offered an update on his health after undergoing surgery on his right shin to repair a stress fracture. Long posted a post-surgery photo of himself on Instagram with his right leg wrapped. The caption said:
“1st day of the road back to 110% complete! Thank you to everyone who has reached out and kept me in your prayers these last few days. Surgery was a complete success and I’m moving well. Big thanks to my @mariners family for reaching out as well! I miss y’all boys and wish I was still in battle with y’all. Finish strong fellas! I’ll be back better than ever! #PositiveVibesOnly“