Saturday 5 July 2014

The Great American Ball Park

Day two of our US roadtrip saw us head down the Interstate to Cincinnati, where we spent a pleasant couple of hours wandering around the nice suburb we found ourselves based in, as well as a further spell of recuperation, especially for me. I had left HK at 11pm on Friday, spent 12 hours in the air, 5 hours in the airport, and then another 9 hours in the air with a 2 hour layover to arrive in the Ohio only at 4pm. Somewhere a small portion of my life disappeared, and with it any sense of what time it actually was. Not to be recommended, but it didn’t take too long to feel back on form.

Nobody won the car....

Attending a major league baseball game en famille on Sunday evening helped take my mind off it. We had organized this well in advance, and the kids were looking forward to it massively. The local team, Cincinnati Reds, versus the St Louis Cardinals, and on Memorial Day weekend to boot. The stadium is on the Ohio River, the Great American Ballpark, and the fans were streaming in - mostly dressed in red - it ended up being a sell-out, something like 40,000 people. Missouri isn't that far away, but I guess this was a spectacle for the residents. We were behind home-base, great views, and patriotism, never too far away in the mid-west, reached fever pitch as a succession of local heroes were paraded out. At various points everyone had to get up and sing God Bless America and so on. I feel American, but not that American! Brits don't do public displays of foggy-eyed allegiance...

I guess this is the heavy roller
One thing is for sure, Baseball is a loooong game. People say the same thing about cricket, but that's different. For one, I understand cricket, the nuances of the game, the tactics, and above all, the rules. Here I was completely at sea. I helpful couple next to us attempted to educate, but I have to say the game itself wasn't the exhilarating spectacle I had hoped. The Reds got thoroughly trounced by the visitors, and not a single home run was scored by anyone. This is apparently common to all people attending their first game - they never see one. The Cardinals did however get a few guys round in stages, and ended up winning by about 5-0, but actually we left at around 11pm as by then both girls and Mrs L were all asleep. Far better than the actual game itself was the stadium atmosphere and the people watching. Everyone was having a terrific time, astonishing quantities of food were going down (there are a LOT of big people in the mid-west, I felt great about myself all week!), and it was fun to be a part of it. Above all people were so nice - a feature of the whole week. We had our photo taken by one of the stewards - mainly old guys in retirement, we had a certificate printed to mark our attendance at our first game, the fans around us helped us out, even the people selling the hotdogs were lovely. The sport itself was almost peripheral to the whole event, it was more of a gathering in a stadium to eat, drink, and be merry. 

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