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!