I love baseball.
Being at a baseball game is more than just being at a game. It is an experience.
As you walk into the Coors Field ballpark and make your way to your section, your nose is greeted by all sorts of food smells: hamburgers and popcorn, beer and onions, pizza and, of course, all sorts of hotdogs. By the time you pass all the food booths, it doesn’t matter if you had just eaten, your mouth is watering.
As you enter the ballpark and make your way to your seat, you get your very first look at that manicured, crisscross-mowed field, the pitcher’s mound, and the bases, the giant sets of lights above the scoreboard, and huge ads for Coke and cars and engagement rings — well, it’s breathtakingly beautiful and nearly overwhelming. It’s expansive, bigger than life, impossible to take all in a single glance. You grin, because this is a happy place, a place where grown men wearing purple or white play a children’s game, sometimes play it with incredible skill.
After claiming your seat, you look around, seeing if there are any young children nearby. That’s just curtesy on your part, because as much as you love to swear, you don’t want to pollute the air around other people’s children. If you are like me, you usually sit in the cheaper seats, a.k.a. the nosebleed section, which is a bit ironic, because if you sit along the 1st or 3rd baseline, you are more likely to get smacked with a ball. The bad part is the players look a bit tiny. The good part is from this elevation, you get to see the entire game played out in front of you, like a chess board. All around you there are the hawkers trying to sell beer or cotton candy, lemonade, peanuts or cold water, shouting out the names of their wares. My personal favorite is, “Beer here! Ice cold beer here!”
You stand and sing the national anthem, then grab a seat while the umpire calls, “Play ball!” And the game begins. But that’s only about two thirds of a story. The other third is sending your loved one for Rockie Dog (just a shmancy word for an all-beef foot-long hot dog) and a beer — unless you’d rather go with a dog and a giant soda, also acceptable and on some days (say, 90 degrees while you’re sitting in the sun) preferable. So then, having food and drink, soaking up the rays, or enjoying the shade, rooting for your team (or any team that beats the Cincinnati Reds*) — now the experience is complete.
The game isn’t as fast as basketball, but when an exciting play happens, it makes it even more exhilarating. It’s a game of numbers and statistics, but it’s also a game of passion, of pulling a double-play at 2nd and 1st, of running down a long drive to center field, sliding into bases and evading “the pickle.”
And there is an added bonus of The 7th Inning Stretch, when people rise up from their seats, and sing “Take me out to the ballgame” at the top of their lungs, and move about a bit before settling down again. It’s a place of talking with your family and friends, laughing over the blooper reel played while the new pitcher warms up, watching people dance and wave on the large screen, high-fiving strangers after a home run and booing the “blind” umps. It’s a community game.
I love baseball.
*As a woman who escaped from the oppressive communist regime of the former Soviet Union, I cannot and will not abide a team known as The Reds. Just can’t do it.