Let’s all go to the ballgame

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I took my customary goodluck along to the baseball a couple of weeks ago now. It was finally time to catch my first San Diego Padres game, and what better matchup that against the team I saw back in 2003 and have received email updates for ever since, the Seattle Mariners. Both teams are firmly secured in the group comprising the worst few teams in the MLB, so it promised to be a close thing.

I had asked Halee to go, and after an initial confusion about which day would be best, the tickets were bought and secured, and it was time to look forward to the game. She drove, and there was actually a little traffic by the stadium. Yes, even in San Diego there is traffic! We parked in the lot right next to the stadium, which was full of people having tailgate parties. I am fascinated by this very American pastime; it’s very bizarre to see everyone sitting on the edge of the trunk of the car, chatting and reaching into the coolers to get some drinks of macaroni salad out. Some even have the bbq’s attached on the tail. I thought this was a joke when Hammond got on Top Gear’s New Orleans road trip, but people go really have grills attached to their pickups!

We arrived about an hour before first pitch, so we wandered down to the park at the park and watched batting practice for a bit. It was good to have a chance for a catch up, school has been so busy of late, but I couldn’t help being fascinated by the group playing in the park. It was a band called ‘The Leftover Cuties’, and I thought they were terrific. It was very bluegrass, and when it’s done well I love that style. We happily stood there listening to them until it was time to sit down.

Our seats were behind the home dugout on right field about halfway up the stadium. We could get a great view of everything, and soon got a running commentary going focusing on our thoughts of the guests brought in for the endless number of ceremonies pre-game. Was this person with a tiara Miss California, Miss USA or Miss Universe (cause you can’t be Miss Earth it turns out!)? What TV show was he in? How many first pitches are there? What are they painting? And so on…

Eventually the game started, and Ichiro came up to bat for the Mariners. I proudly pointed out I have an Ichiro bobble head at home! Nothing really happened in the first inning, except it became clear San Diego’s starting picture was, quite simply, rubbish. The first three pitchers were balls. In the second inning, he walked the first batter. Seattle then got a second base hit. After another catch, there was another base hit. He then pitched a strike, straight after which Halee said “I think he’s getting better now”. Jinxed, then came his biggest faux pas. Pitching to the Seattle pitcher (yes, they’d got through 8 other batters and were still just in the 2nd inning), the Seattle pitcher bunted it (a defensive shot). It came straight back to the pitcher, but he fumbled the ball. There came a desperate moment when he scrambled to try and find the ball, but which time the batter had already reached 1st base. A pitcher getting a run? Oh dear me, it was going to be one of those evenings! Suddenly without really trying, Seattle had scored 2 runs.

One boy by the press boxes managed to nab two foul balls in succession at the beginning of the third. Lucky boy! Seattle added another run in the third inning, and all the while San Diego looked as though they hadn’t turned up. No hits, shocking fielding, and let’s just forget about the pitching! At the end of the 5th, their pitcher had pitcher over 90 times. By contrast, the Seattle pitcher, Pĩnero, was doing superbly, pitching only about 70 times. Dear me. Halee spotted a change was forthcoming for the 6th inning, the ‘submarine’ pitcher was coming in, so named because of his crazy, bizarre action. It didn’t help. Ichiro smashed his first pitch to right field for a second base hit. He walked the second batter, the third was caught, and then the next got another hit so Ichiro could get home to make the score 4-0. When San Diego came into bat, such was the crowds interest in watching them bat, a Mexican wave made it completely around the stadium 5 times. I filmed the last two rounds.

(I have some videos, but they are .avi files, and it seems I can’t post them, never mind, you can imagine what Mexican wave going 5 times around a stadium will be like!) 

Onto mascots…I thought it was funny, because in the Museum of Man in Balboa Park, which I went to with Amy when she was visiting, they had a section dedicated to mascots, and how it was offensive to depict individuals as mascots. In other words, Indians found it offensive for a mascot to be dressed in a chief’s costume because animals are mascots, and so that means Indians must be animals. Now, I’ll admit, I thought that was a load of rubbish. It’ll be a sad day if name changes are demanded of the Chicago Blackhawks or the Atlanta Braves for example. Anyway, the point of this story is that the Padres mascot is a Padre! A guy dressed just like a 16th century friar (is that what they were called?) jumping around throwing t-shirts into the crowd. (He wasn’t scary in the least; it was more like the Ghost of Christmas Present suddenly coming onto the field).

In the middle of the seventh, there was the seventh inning stretch. It was nice to stand up and limber up the old leg muscles a bit. A rousing chorus of ‘Let’s all go to the Ballgame’ then rung around the stadium, and as another indication of how much the crowd were into the game, when we sing “Let’s root, root for the <Padres>”, Halee’s shouting of ‘Angels’ (her local team are the Angels of Anaheim) instead drowned out our whole section!

It began to get cold at the point, it wasn’t a warm evening. San Diego tried their best in the last inning, getting to batters on base with just one out. Then there a strike out swinging, and the last guy hit a ball straight to the left field fielder and that was that. 4-0 to Seattle. I didn’t mind too much, because I do like Seattle! There was a chap playing Scotland the Brave on the bagpipes when we left the stadium, which I pointed out to Halee. It was just like walking down Princes’ Street in Edinburgh!

Overall, despite the abysmal performance of San Diego, it was a fun night. I do really enjoy going to the baseball. On other terrific sports news, my Vancouver Canucks have made it to the Stanley Cup finals and are 2-0 up so far in the series! I can’t tell you how overjoyed I am! I’ve supported them through all the bad times in the last 10 years, and I’m so glad they have picked now, when I’m in North America, to finally deliver on their promise! It’s very exciting!

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