Last Australian summer I had the privilege of taking Kim to her first ever cricket match. We spent the whole first fifty overs teacing her how the game worked and we were ready to knuckle down and enjoy the second innings when the skies opened and the game was washed out. But at least we tried.
This week Kim returned the favour spectacularly by taking me to my first ever baseball game. Her lcoal team, the Cincinnati Reds were playing the Arizona Diamond Backs at the fantastically named Great American Ball Park in downtown Cincinnati.
I had always been under the impression that cricket was a lot more complicated that baseball. Well... I still think it is, but I will say that baseball is also capable of producing entire scoreboards full of statistics that make absolutely no sense to an outsider. I got the number of strikes and balls sorted out easily enough, and even the batting averages, but the rows and rows of percentages and figures used to describe how well a pitcher was or wasn't performing made my head swim a bit.
Meanwhile, I was having a great time taking in as much of the great baseball traditions as I could. We all stood and sung the American national anthem (well... I stood) despite the fact that it was only a domestic game (although it's still called the world series make of that what you will) and then settled in to eat our dubiously prepared hotdogs. The Reds' opening pitcher seemed to be doing well, although the numbers after his name might have come from the stock exchange of the train timetable for all the sense they made to me.
But by far the most impressive job being done by anyone at the stadium was that of the guy playing inspirational riffs on a theatre organ between pitches. Okay, it was a small plastic keyboard made to sound like a theatre organ, but the effect was the same. I don't care how many stops, voices, presets or effects a church or concert hall organ might have; that guy had reached the absolute peak of the professional organist's musical career path as far as I was concerned.
Baseball matches come in nine innings, unless there's a tie after nine, in which case they keep playing until one team either loses or dies. But that's it; there's only one format of nine innings a side. There's no twenty-twenty baseball, and disappointingly no format or baseball lasts for five days, After six innings they have what's known as the seventh inning stretch, which is where everyone in the stadium stands up and stretches, to make sure no one in the crowd has fallen asleep, died, or in anyother way stopped passionately supporting the home team. They also sing a song called 'take me out to ball game,' the first line of which is 'take me out to the ball game,' and the rest of which is completely forgettable, as evidenced by the fact that I've completely forgotten it.
We eventually made it to the bottom of the ninth and everyone dutifully and apparently prognostically stood up to witness the last out, despite there being no guarantee that it was necessarily going to be the last out.
The Reds won five runs to three, which seems a preposterously low score for a game with nine innings, but is, I'm told, fairly typical. Fireworks went off, the organist went ballistic, and President Obama parachuted in wearing a 'kiss the cook' apron and waving an inflatable oboe.
Okay that last one didn't really happen, but it wouldn't necessarily have been the most bizarre thing I'd seen all day.
Make of that what you will.
Garry with 2 Rs 0.359, 79%, 3389/120, 0.0023, five.