15 September, 2011

Taken out to the ballgame

We've been here almost two years and going to a baseball game has been on our list from the start. And then I realized that we might need to get on with this particular task, as the Giants aren't having such a great season and it won't be going on to Hallowe'en like last year's when they won the World Series.

So about three weeks ago, the girls and I wrapped up very warmly - thermals and everything - packed a blanket and hats and mittens, and headed down to Tom's office to meet our guides for the evening: Henry, a tall droll Brit with both cricket and baseball knowledge, Aaron an ever-smiling even when booing baseball nut and later Todd, quiet and calm even when sitting next to small surly unimpressed English girls.

Discussing the finer points with Henry (orange) and Aaron

Now before I go into any details of the game, a disclaimer. The following post has been written by a British woman who knows only slightly more about cricket and rounders than she does about baseball. And any knowledge she does have of baseball was chiefly gained from the film Bull Durham which is rather more about sex/witty romance than baseball (thank God).


AT&T Park is in a brilliant setting. Right in San Francisco, by the Bay Bridge, near enough for balls to get hit into the water - they keep count of how many during the season. Gets chilly though. This being an August night, it got really cold, with billowing fog sweeping through the stadium and us.

We were sitting near a really big glove and Coca Cola bottle, and far away from the pitcher/batsman part. Basically, where the batsman is aiming, if he can actually aim with his bat. There was a discussion on this which concluded that cricket involves much more control by the batsman than baseball, where the bloke just tries to whack it really hard out of the park. In fact I've concluded that the real skill in baseball resides with the pitcher as the fielders seem to find catching ridiculously easy. Happens all the time. Then again they are all wearing those huge gloves.

It's a funny game. Not much happens but it doesn't happen much faster than in cricket. So a bloke steps up, tries to hit the ball, fails and after three strikes is out, or succeeds and gets caught out. Only very occasionally does anything of moment happen and then it's over really fast and everyone else stood up and cheered and the small clueless British contingent said "what?". And sat down again. And the score changed. On our night, the Giants were playing the Houston Astros who are apparently rubbish (possibly biased opinion from Giants fans) and were wearing very unfetching grey. Must be horrible playing away in baseball as no one travels to support you, so there's you and your team mates in a stadium full of Giants fans in panda hats, and bright orange snuggies, all bellowing at you. Like being harangued by 40,000 Honey Monsters at once.

Aaron booing. He's rather good at it.

What can I tell you about the game. We won. (Obviously I am now a Giants fan despite this being my first actual game.) The score was as low as a football score - 2-1. Everyone I had heard of was injured apart from the superbly named Madison Bumgarner, who buys cows for his wife when not pitching. There was a double play which involved - oh hang on - can't remember. Was that when we got two people out at once and there was lots of slipping and sliding into bases and what not? Oh whatever.

What I liked was the family atmosphere - we went in the evening so there weren't that many children but there were lots of women and it was a friendly place to be. Also their chants are way less obscene and offensive than at football. Never been to a proper cricket match so I can't tell you if the shouting at Lord's is Anglo-Saxon. But I have seen Arsenal at home and they can come up with something riper than "What's wrong with X? He's a bum!" or whatever it was.

And the food. The food was really good. Garlic fries with parsley! And really excellent sausages in the hot dogs. And Ghiradelli hot chocolate. But then this is the foodie capital of the USA. Apparently the Giants are known for their nosh.

It was Irish night. No I don't know why either.

And the odd stuff that happened between innings. That was fun if a bit strange. The kissing camera - old people kiss much more passionately and for longer than young people. The crazy dancing old guy with the hot young thing. The seal mascot driving guests around the park. Everyone getting up to sing "Take me out to the ballgame". Now that was very strange. But rather charming.

Bemused Englishman surrounded by singing Americans (including Todd, in non-Giant green)

All in all it was a good night out as far as the adults were concerned. The girls had no clue what was going on and endured it rather than enjoyed it.


Alison said...

I'm so glad you went to a baseball game! It's the only sport I enjoy watching, and it's as much for the atmosphere as anything. I really enjoyed your description, and I can recall, as a child, feeling the same as you--sitting around watching nothing happen for 15 minutes, then wondering what the heck everyone's suddenly yelling about--which way am I supposed to be looking?) I just wish you'd been able to experience proper baseball weather, too! Ah well, at least you had the hot dogs.

Unknown said...

The best description of baseball ever!

Aaron said...

I'm glad you enjoyed it, Eliane! Your description is most-accurate.

Very interesting to know that I smile when I boo. Apparently I'm not a very self-aware boo'er.

Also, you should know that since the Giants won that evening, a rare occurrence these days, you and the family White are clearly a good luck charm. I'll go again with you any time!