Thanks to Rick I got two premier tickets for what was going to be my first baseball game: SF Giants vs. Minnesota Twins. Took the totally crowded Caltrain up to San Fran. Funnily enough, this ride to the stadium is one of the only places where drinking alcohol in public is allowed in the United States. Guess it would be political suicide to refuse the fans getting drunk on their way to the game. And it actually makes sense to drink on the train, as beer in the stadium costs 10 bucks! But even small hot dogs (ironically called Giants dogs) that IKEA would sell for 50 cents cost 5 dollars there. However, being a brave Styrian guy in an unknown place I brought an apple, of course.
One of the guys next to my seat welcomed me with the words, “Welcome to the massacre!” I was only a few minutes late because of the crowds in front of the stadium, but the Giants were already behind 8 runs after the first inning. Not good, but I could care more (such as the people all around me).
Before that day I had no glue about baseball at all, but thanks to explanations from Markus and Wikipedia I think I understood most of what was happening. So here the basics: A game consists of 9 innings (rounds), in each of them both teams “attack” and “defend” once, each (called batting/hitting and fielding/pitching in baseball language). The batting team initially has only one player on the field (the batter, the guy with the baseball bat). The pitcher begins by throwing the ball towards batter and catcher. If he doesn’t hit a specific virtual area (basically throwing it too far away from the batter’s bat), the ball is called a “ball.” Makes sense, doesn’t it?
The batter tries to hit the ball with his bat. If he fails to do so, the ball is called a “strike”. Three strikes and he the batter striked out. But if he hits the ball, he throws away his bat and starts running towards the first of three bases (the other corners of the square they’re playing on). The defending team now tries to catch the ball and pass it to a defender at the base the batter is approaching. If a defender in possession of the ball touches the batter, the latter is “tagged” out. Otherwise he stays at the base he has reached and a new batter comes into play. There are lots and lots of other rules, but basically the batters try to advance from base to base until they reach the home plate again, which is called a homerun and gives 1 point (“run”). Actually this doesn’t happen too often. Long story short, 8 runs in one inning is a lot. A massacre.
Some people consider baseball one of the most boring sports on earth—as one guy on the train put it, “the only sport (maybe apart from golf) where you can eat a sandwich while playing it.” (And he was even a fan of it!) Maybe that’s one of the reasons it became America’s “national pastime.” Anyway, I really enjoyed the game. Especially as there’s so much going on in the stadium apart from the actual game: pizza being thrown into the crowd, the smell of nachos and beer (did I mention it’s 10 dollars?), old dancing popcorn traders, best facial hair awards (see my personal hero), kiss cam… and the stadium itself is nice too, particularly the walk on the promenade towards the bay. Unfortunately, I ran out of battery, so the selection of photos was rather limited.
In the end—not very surprisingly—the Giants lost 9-2. Still an interesting experience.