I didn’t know that Seattle Mariners pitcher James Paxton was throwing a no-hitter against the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday until the game was practically over. But the fact that I caught the excitement of the rare baseball feat in real time, and how I shared it with friends, is another fun example of what it’s like to be a sports fan in 2018.
The game from Toronto’s Rogers Centre started at 1 p.m. PT, and rather than lie on my couch at home or sit in a bar to watch a regular season game, I worked through most of it.
On the way home, after 6 p.m. PT, I received an alert on my phone from ESPN, that Paxton hadn’t allowed a hit through eight innings. The alert came in at 6:17 p.m, and looking back at my history, it seems I missed one at 6:05 p.m. that said he’d made it through seven innings.
Now, I don’t get a lot of alerts on my phone related to sports. I don’t need to be constantly updated on everything that’s happening across a host of leagues. I don’t subscribe to a Major League Baseball package that lets me watch every game on my phone when I should be paying attention to my wife. I just like “breaking news” style updates on teams that I care about. This qualified as something I wanted to see happen live.
So, rather than get dinner started for my kids, I told them “there’s a good baseball thing happening that I have to see,” and I headed for the basement TV room.
Here’s where I try to justify paying a painfully expensive Xfinity bill every month — $150 of which is just for cable TV. I’ve avoided cutting the cord because in moments like these I like the reliability of knowing just where to go on TV to watch history play out. It didn’t have to be a silly “sportsball” thing, it could have been something of actual import — name your breaking news flavor. Being in the news business all these years has fed that appetite — I think kids call it FOMO.
So I picked up the fancy Xfinity remote control that lets me speak to it to change channels and I said “Root Sports,” knowing just where the Mariners game would be broadcast. I didn’t turn to Twitter or Facebook for running commentary from feeds I follow; I didn’t launch the ESPN app to watch animated baseballs sail across the screen in a gamecast version of the events.
I texted a few friends. “Mariners game! Now!” because my kids weren’t providing the level of shared excitement that I needed with three outs to go.
As Paxton took the mound in the bottom of the ninth inning, and recorded the first and then second outs, I stood up and pointed my phone at the TV. With two strikes on Blue Jays batter Josh Donaldson, I hit record for a video. With a 50-inch TV on the wall, I watched the sixth no-hitter in Mariners history through a 5 1/2-inch iPhone screen.
.@James_Paxton’s last three pitches:
THAT’S how you finish a no-no. pic.twitter.com/BWdmtS863U
— MLB (@MLB) May 9, 2018
As third baseman Kyle Seager recorded the final out and Paxton was mobbed by his teammates on the pitcher’s mound, I ended the video at 44 seconds. I sat back down on my couch, briefly explained what a no-hitter was to my kids, turned off the TV and uploaded my video to my private Instagram. “Niiiiiiice,” I wrote, next to punching fist and Canadian flag emojis.
Back upstairs in the kitchen, prepping for taco Tuesday — as was the plan before a push alert delayed things — I checked my phone here and there to make sure people were enjoying the video clip I sort of ripped off from Root Sports, Major League Baseball and the Mariners — if you can steal something you paid $150 to see.
Official videos and images from the team began to fill my Twitter feed. Friends answered texts. Social media endorphins subsided.