Posts Tagged With: baseball

Take me out to the ball game

Well, in the words of Barry Manilow, we made it through the rain. Our final day in Baltimore started with bright blue, cloudless skies and a strange orange ball in the sky. The husband again broke out his best Tracy Turnblad impression with a fine rendition of “Good Morning Baltimore”. The city looked amazing in the early morning sunshine and gave us hope for an exciting day ahead.

We started with a walk across to Federal Hill, which is a “hill” only in the same sense as London’s Primrose Hill, i.e. by default because it is higher (by just a few feet) than all the very flat land all around it. Still, it provided some excellent views back across the harbour, as well as some bracing winds to clear the cobwebs away. From here we ambled fairly aimlessly around the Federal Hill area, enjoying the old architecture, until we happened upon the local fire station. It’s become a tradition now (well, this being the second time) to snap a photo of the husband sitting on the bench outside any local fire station we see, and while we were availing ourselves of this opportunity today we were lucky to be greeted by one of the firemen who invited us in for a look around. Not only did I get to see his pole and his nice shiny engine, I also got a firefighter’s badge for posterity 😀

Next up, we paid a visit to some of the historic ships in Baltimore Harbour. The highlight was undoubtedly the USS Constellation, which is a restored 18th century warship. We were lucky enough to arrive just in time for the firing of the cannon, which was probably a bit of a shock to the many passers by on land and on other ships who weren’t expecting it. As we toured further down into the lowest decks of the ship, the ceilings got lower and lower, rather like in Charlie & the Chocolate Factory where Willy Wonka asks “is he getting bigger or is the room getting smaller?”. Even allowing for the fact that two centuries ago people were generally shorter, I’m pretty sure they must still have been incredibly squeezed into the nooks and crannies of this ship. We then ventured onto the USS Torsk, which is a submarine. Again this consisted of lots of rather small rooms and this, combined with the fact that it would usually spend months at a time under water, made for some very claustrophobic feelings again. I was quite glad to get back onto dry land in the end.

We meandered around the water to Little Italy where we had a lovely nibbly lunch of salad, antipasti and wine, followed up by cannoli and coffee al fresco at the harbour’s edge again. You might think that we’d had enough excitement for one day (and I would normally be inclined to agree), however today was a huge day in the sporting calendar and something that could not be ignored when in Rome/Camden Yards. It was the first day of the baseball season and the Baltimore Orioles were at home to the Boston RedSox. The excitement had been building since breakfast time and we had spotted Orioles fans around the city from early on. We dropped by the stadium during the morning where things were already gearing up, even though the first ball was only scheduled for 3.05 pm. (Really? Who schedules a game to start at five minutes past the hour? And why is the opening game on a Monday afternoon? Not that this factor seemed to be an issue as the stadium was totally packed to the rafters, as indeed was the city with all the other gazillions of fans who didn’t have tickets.) We ventured back towards the stadium once more about halfway through the game to see what all the fuss was about. Well, I can safely say that I am still really none the wiser about why anybody plays or watches baseball, however it was difficult not to find the energy infectious, especially when the Orioles hit a home run and the crowd went wild. All in all, a lovely final Day in Baltimore, a city I would be happy to hang around in a lot more.

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The Tides are High

Today did not start in a promising fashion. We went to the DMV (where good car owners go to die….of boredom and frustration), then to the dentist and then to the garage to get the car checked over. The husband sure knows how to show a girl a good time. Could the day get any better?

Thankfully yes. We went to our first baseball game, courtesy of the Norfolk Tides. It felt really …… American. I actually thought I was on a film set as we had the marching band, national anthem, hot dogs (they even had veggie ones, along with a half decent selection of ales), sunshine and all the other happy cliches.

Now I really didn’t want to be making jokey comparisons with rounders but I have to say it was not that dissimilar to my experiences in the rounders squad at junior school, especially the lack of any action whatsoever for the first 15 minutes or so. Baseball seems to have more relaxed rules than rounders though, like the fact that you can keep running past a base and then change your mind and come back to where you were without being bowled out. So how does that work then?

Baseball isn’t quite as exciting or filled with high octane thrills as ice hockey, mainly because it lacks the fast pace and general violence. There are, however, two real high points of baseball. First there are the times when a ball gets hit into the crowd, when the place turns into a human pinball machine until someone catches the ball (hopefully with their hands although we did see one unfortunate soul get it right in the kisser). Secondly, if the bowler catches sight of a member of the opposing team trying to sneak over to the next base while he is trying to bowl, very often the bowler will whip round and chuck the ball full pelt at him to stop him. It was rather reminiscent of an irate teacher with a particularly good aim with a blackboard eraser.

Overall, American sport is a completely different beast to the British stuff. In the UK we will give a game our full attention for 40 or 45 minutes – and it will be full on and action-packed – then everyone dashes off for toilets, bar or food, then back to give the second half their full attention. Job done, off home within two hours. In the USA, sports games of all varieties go on for 3 or 4 hours but nothing much really happens, therefore nobody really concentrates a great deal and people are forever pottering in and out. It’s almost like the sport is an afterthought to a nice day out in the sunshine. It seemed to me that there were more people at the concession stands than in the seats during tonight’s game. In fact the rest of the people sitting in our row didn’t even bother turning up until about an hour into the game. Whole civilisations could have risen and fallen again in the time it takes an American sporting event to take place. I’m tired just talking about it.

I will say one more thing though. Earlier this week I had decided to become a Park Ranger. (It’s the uniform and the chance to hang around lighthouses and green spaces that swung it for me.) Tonight I have changed my mind. My aim now is to become the mascot for the Norfolk Tides. He’s already using most of my dance moves and he has my walk. I could do a far better job than he does. Maybe I could chivvy the players along a bit too, get the matches down to only a couple of hours……?

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