At the beginning of the chapter "Bellevue, Washington," on page 76, the main character, Brent, sits in fifth grade drawing the logo of the Seattle Mariners on his desk. He says the Mariners are his team and that they will be playing the New York Yankees later that day.
He says the prematch show will start in fifteen minutes. He has sneaked a radio into class and in thirteen minutes will work the earphones down his shirt sleeve, tape the earphones to his hands and rest his ear against his palm. It will look like he is listening to the teacher when in reality he is listening to the game.
While he waits for the game to start, he imagines that the announcer is interviewing him. They talk about his life, what's it's like to be an Asian-American and how he likes to play the violin. When the announcer, who he refers to as Bob, asks what he does in his leisure time, Brent says that he has been to a Mariners' game once and that the Mariners' lost. That is the only time in the book that he talks about a professional sports team losing.
Whirligig is a coming of age children's story about an Asian-American boy called Brent who builds a whirligig in each of the four corners of the USA.