♫ Take Me Out of… I mean TO… the Ballgame ♫

Thanks to my niece Maeve earning straight A’s this year (congrats, Maeve!), we all were privileged last night to witness – in person – Homer Bailey pitch a no-hitter against the SF Giants. The anticipation of said event lent a certain edge-of-the-seat aura to the proceedings, especially the last couple of innings. However, other than attending all the Little League games my boys participated in, I am not normally a big baseball fan – particularly the major leagues. And this is why: watching baseball seems to me to be akin to a common description of war, but modified a bit – baseball is long periods of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer excitement.

Apologies to my cousin, who is in the sports promotion biz (hmmm… would the game be even duller without all the frippery?) but I think so many “extras” detract from the actual sport: the shell game called guess-which-animated-plate-of-Skyline-chili-the-baseball-is-under-to-win-cheese-coneys-for-your-row; the CEO-throws-out-extra-balls-for-some-company-with-huge-advertisement-billboards-plastering-the-fences show; the kiss-cam (alright, that was slightly entertaining); all the silly “pitches” for everything under the sun that make the game go on waaaaay longer than it already does. Get on with it already!

If you’re watching the game on TV (or listening on radio!) and hear all the screaming and cheering, you might wonder if you’re somehow missing something truly exciting – “What??!! Did I look down to dip my chip into the salsa and miss a triple play?”

No worries. You’re simply unaware of the completely orchestrated nature of being an observer (fan?) at the ballpark. Every rhythmic clapping sequence,  every chorused cheer, dance steps, loud noise of all kinds, is directed by the Jumbotron. The sudden appearance of huge animated, disembodied, Mickey Mouse-like hands tell the spectators when to clap (even then, it seems perfunctory – it all dies down before the hands disappear from the screen); gigantic words scream in vibrating capital letters: CHEER! YELL! MAKE NOISE! MAKE NOISE! MAKE NOISE!; and herds of prancing rhinos stampede across the screen to synthesized trumpet fanfare: CHARGE!

Holy cow! Would no one know what to do without intervention from the Jumbotron? Would everyone just sit there paralyzed, struck dumb? Or possibly cause some unauthorized havoc (as opposed to the customary mayhem of NHL games)?

“What do we do now, Frank?”

“I don’t know, Buddy – maybe throw a water bottle at the ump, or  a cell phone at the opposing pitcher?”

What did people ever do before? Watch the game, maybe, instead of the big screen? Not possible, I guess, in the age of smart phones and 24/7 “entertainment”.

Granted, I did get a bit bored myself, which is one of the things (besides my ignorance of baseball rules) that led to my son having to explain to me how the game qualified as a no-hitter despite SF’s one man left on base: “Mom, you have to get to the base by actually hitting the ball, not on a walk.”


Due to the lack of action on the field, this fluke probably happened while my sister and I engaged in a hands-on exercise in genetics by comparing our toenails.

“I have horizontal ridges, and you have vertical ones.”

“Huh. I have vertical ridges in my fingernails.”

“Oh, so do I – look! And so does Mom. It must be hereditary.”

I must admit, though, that on the whole, with the crowd on their feet and roaring at the end of the game (not scored by the Jumbotron, thank you very much), the rest of the Reds mobbing the pitcher, and seeing the big, satisfied smiles on my family’s faces, it did turn out to be a rewarding evening. If I’m going to go to a baseball game, this was the one to see!


About rangermoi

I'm a former park ranger and teacher, mother of two no-longer-teenage sons, avid cook and reader and the Official Family Memory. I thought I'd better get some of those remembrances down before they all leak out of my senior-moment-affected brain!
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One Response to ♫ Take Me Out of… I mean TO… the Ballgame ♫

  1. Brother Terry says:

    What a rich vein you’ve struck with this one. First, Maeve, we’re proud of your sterling performance in school. And what a great congratulatory treat — a trip to Great American Ballpark (vocalized as in The Biiiig Dance Contest).
    So, Moi, you had a much better experience than my most recent. After swimming a race at Coney Island on Sunday morning I headed over to Citi Field to watch the Mets get hammered 13-2. Pretty awful way to spend an afternoon.
    Except for one thing.
    From the first time I ever attended a big league game–1963 Kansas City Athletics at Yankees–I have never gotten over the first glimpse of the field when I come out of the tunnel under the stands. Compared to watching baseball on TV, everything seems so hyper-real.
    The grass is greener than any green thing you’ve even seen. Even the clay of the basepaths and warning track seems so vividly . . . clay colored. And those people standing or running around — they’re actual icons in the flesh. Or were, when I was 12 — Mantle and Maris were patrolling the outfield in the first game I attended.

    And all those tawdry non-baseball distractions are present for one reason. To pay today’s huge salaries, the team operators have to scrounge for every possible advertising or promotional dollar. It’s worst at the newer ball parks. First time I really was bothered by it was while attending a game at Chicago’s ‘new’ Comiskey Park — really named after some telecom company I think.

    On another trip to Chicago I was fortunate to attend a game at legendary Wrigley Field. What a difference. Far fewer distractions.

    But if you thought it was bad the other night at the Giants-Reds game, go to a minor league game sometime. It’s a wonder anyone actually bothers to pay attention to what goes on between the lines.

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