As they traded jabs and jokes, laughing at their own more than the other’s, while answering questions and trying to say nice things before taking to the same field for the first time in a major-league game, the idea of Kyle and Corey Seager as adolescents in their baseball uniforms around the family kitchen table in North Carolina acting the same way wasn’t difficult to imagine.
Instead, they were sitting at separate ends of a long table — a socially acceptable distance — in a media room in Dodger Stadium hours before Monday night’s game.
When the obvious first question of what it meant to the two brothers to finally play on the same field together in an MLB game was asked, a hint of their relationship was offered.
“A. Avocado,” Corey said to the first question asked as Kyle let out a guffaw of laughter.
The response was to win a $20 wager made by the middle brother of the three, Justin Seager, a one-time Mariners’ farmhand, betting which of his siblings could use it first in an answer.
“I said avocado first for the record,” Kyle said. “You guys might not have heard it, but I definitely said it first.”
Corey stared at him.
“The rules were that you needed to be recorded and I don’t think it had started,” Corey replied. “Thank you, Justin, for my twenty bucks.”
As Kyle shook his head at the notion, somewhere Justin was smiling and their parents, Jeff and Jody, were getting deja vu.
That one-upmanship was on display later, on the field. In the second inning, Corey smacked a three-run homer into the seats in right field. As he trotted past his big brother at third base, Corey gave a knowing smile. Kyle could only respond with a wry smirk.
The roles were reversed in the top of third when Kyle followed Kyle Lewis’ two-run homer with a solo homer to center. As big brother trotted past little brother, he gave that same wry smirk while Corey tried not to make eye contact.
Unfortunately, for the rest of the Seager family, this memorable moment could only be viewed on television. With no fans allowed at MLB games this summer due to the spread of COVID-19, the first meeting of the brothers Seager on the baseball field meant no family in the stands. It would have been a magical four days for the family with two games at Dodger Stadium followed by two games at T-Mobile Park.
“With all this COVID stuff, there’s not really too many big gatherings,” Kyle said. “I know my kids will have the game on up in Seattle, but I’m sure my parents will be watching this in the same place that always do — on the couch with multiple TVs.”
Corey finished the answer, noting that “fortunately they only have to watch us on one TV today, so they’re probably pretty happy about that instead of switching back and forth.”
But both are aware how frustrating it is for their parents to miss being there in person.
“It’s kind of a sad day for them,” Kyle said. “They’ve been planning for this day and kind of dreaming about this day for a while. Not being able to be here in person I think that definitely puts a little bit of a damper on it, but I think they’re still very excited.”
From the notes, they are the 15th set of brothers to face each other after both had been named to an All-Star team. They are one of 12 sets of brothers in MLB to face each other with at least 75 career homers each.
Given how long they’ve played in the big leagues — Kyle is in his 10th season and Corey in his sixth season — it is odd that this is the first time in the regular season. But in 2018 when the Mariners played the Dodgers, Corey was on the injured list following multiple surgeries.
“I probably should apologize for that and that’s honestly probably my fault that it hasn’t happened sooner,” Corey said. “I got to play with Justin in school, and always grew up watching Kyle and always going to his games at Carolina, going to the College World Series and experiencing a lot of cool things, watching him play. It’ll be fun to share the same field.”
The two brothers lean on each other during the season, always checking the box scores and highlight shows to see how the other is doing. They talk often, sharing information and scouting reports on opposing pitchers and parks, breaking down their approaches and the latest of their many swing tinkerings.
“Fortunately for me coming up … I’ve had a brother who went through everything, experienced everything, gave me his input on everything,” Corey said. “It gave you a different perspective. It gave you a little bit of an edge in front of people, knowing what to expect, knowing how to expect things to happen. Throughout my career, it’s been incredible to have that person there and I couldn’t be any more thankful for it. “
They are also competitive with each other, which hasn’t changed since their days growing up.
“There’s always a little bit of rivalry,” Corey said. “We have our little home run bets or double bet. He pretty much wins homers every year and I pretty much win doubles every year. It comes out to be pretty fair bets across the board.”
Well there is one aspect Kyle can’t compete with, which he acknowledged.
“He’s also beat me pretty badly in the postseason numbers,” said Kyle, who has never been to the postseason with the Mariners. “That’s something he’s got a big edge on me.”
Corey’s postseason experience is a bit of retribution against an older brother who admittedly tormented his younger brothers growing up.
“Kyle was a very good antagonizer,” Corey said. “Manipulation is the wrong word, that’s a little harsh. He’s very good at, especially with our middle brother, very good at knowing what buttons to push, knowing where to go, knowing how to get it to go toward me, not even himself. So me and Justin, we battled quite often. Kyle was very good at that. But at the same time very supportive. He could play with us even though we were four and six years younger than him. He could still go play ping pong with us and let us at least think we had a chance, when we really didn’t.”
Kyle remained big brother only in age by the time his brothers matured.
“I’m quite a bit older than them, so of course I’ve beat on them,” he joked. “I could because I was a lot bigger than them. So, I think it was about my junior year of college, I go off to college still bigger than them and when I got done with that year, they were both bigger than me. That’s kind of when we stopped doing all the instigating and fighting because you have to mature at some point.”
For these four games — two in Los Angeles and two in Seattle — it’ll be like old times.