Saturday, August 14, 2010


There are four great North American sports that Brits largely fail to understand. Ice hockey (we don't really do 'ice'), basketball (too much like netball which is played by women), baseball (exactly like rounders which is played by small girls) and football (where do I even start?).

That said, the popularity of these sports means I often take opportunities to go to games, because it is something I wouldn't get to do at home. Hence, when a friend said she could get tickets for the baseball game between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Boston Red Sox, I jumped at the chance.

I didn't know much about the Jays, but the Red Sox name was familiar from being regularly cursed through the streets of New York. It turned out that the two teams were fairly close in the league, but that the Jays were suffering from some form of psychological block that was causing them to repeatedly loose spectacularly to the Red Sox. I couldn't help but feel that being sponsored by the Bochner eye institute probably wasn't doing much for their self-confidence.

It is hard to deny that baseball is a slow game. Fortunately, there are plenty of distractions in the form of adverts flashing across the big screen. "[American] Football is amazing" blazed one, implying that if you were bored here you should try that instead. This was followed by a clip from the previous Jays game proving that it was possible for them to get a home run. Then there was "David Roberts; the freshest name in nuts" (no witty byline required) and finally the "Dave Stieb bobblehead day" on August 29th, when you could own your own grossly proportioned nodding head version of the Jays player.

Meanwhile, the action on the pitch was heating up. The Jays were batting and there was a player on each of the three bases. This loaded configuration was made more tense by the fact that 3 out of the 4 allowed pitcher screw-ups and 2 out of the 3 "strikes" or batter screw-ups had occurred. In short, the batter had to hit this ball or he would advance to first base (if the pitcher messed up) or go out (if he messed up). In the movies, this would be the moment where our underdog hero would twack the ball into the stands, kill six spectators and get an automatic home run, causing all three of the players on the bases to also complete their circuit. The Jays would be saved!

In reality, he got to first base. I forget the details. The lack of a body count made it too much of a let down to remember.

The Red Sox, however, were going on a home run spree. Two home runs were achieved by the same batter hitting to exactly the same spot in the field. Evidently, the Jays didn't believe that lightning could strike in the same place twice. Another guy then got a home run that also enabled the two players on the bases to get runs. That last move ended up making it a tidy 5 runs for the one inning and rather sealed the fate of the Jays that day.

The final score was 10:1 and the casualties were a single broken bat. Disappointing for some fans perhaps, but at least they can go get a bobblehead at the end of the month.

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