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Wednesday, May 8
Mariners remove ban on offensive clothing

Associated Press

SEATTLE -- Hoping to defuse the controversy it caused by banning "Yankees Suck" shirts last month, the Seattle Mariners front office says that for now, the $10 T-shirts can stay.

"The ballclub believes that people come to the ballpark to have a good time and try to have fun," team spokesman Randy Adamack said Wednesday night.

Adamack said the team's fans didn't need a confrontation.

"We decided that the best course of action was to defuse the situation, try to let the air out of the balloon as best we could," he said. "So we instructed our staff this week not to ask people to turn their shirts around or take them off when they came to the ballpark. It's that simple.

"We still have a Code of Conduct. The policies haven't changed necessarily. But what we've done is basically try to address the specific situations and avoid confrontations at the gates to the ballpark."

The Mariners generated national news stories last month by asking fans at Safeco Field to remove the shirts or turn them inside out during a series against New York. Mariners spokeswoman Rebecca Hale said the team has always banned the shirts.

Matt Villano of West Seattle tried to organize a protest outside Safeco before Tuesday's game against Toronto. He wore a shirt that said "Mariners Management Sucks" and shouted at fans through a bullhorn, "You're waiting in line to be censored."

But Villano, 27, walked into the ballpark without incident Tuesday. He asked a security guard if the policy banning the T-shirts had been changed.

"They ignored me," Villano said. "That's an encouraging sign."

According to a survey by The News Tribune of Tacoma, 16 teams allow such shirts, while 14 do not. The controversy prompted several to review their obscenity policies.

Bob DiBiasio, a spokesman for the Cleveland Indians, said the team would ask fans to turn the shirts inside-out.

"Ultimately we are responsible for entertainment in an atmosphere that is good for adults and little kids," he said.

No such policy is expected in Boston, said Red Sox spokesman Kevin Shea.

The distaste Red Sox fans have for the Yankees is rooted in their team's sale of Babe Ruth to New York -- and in perhaps thousands of other events since then.

" 'Yankees suck' means something different to us in Boston," Shea said.

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