I'm delayed by about three hours leaving Cincinnati to get to Detroit via Chicago so thought I'd do a few lines reflecting on the baseball game I went to the other night.
(I make no apologies for the hackneyed blog title. I entered into the whole baseball experience fully embodying all the cliches available to me...)
I'd pre-ordered my ticket from the UK so picked it up from the box office the day before. It didn't look like I needed to as the ground was only about 10% full at the start of the game. I spent some time before going into the seating area checking out the stadium - it is absolutely massive and very impressive.
I was prepared for some of the ceremonial stuff and enjoyed the fact that there were two ceremonial "first" pitches...
It wouldn't be an authentic baseball experience without some terrible mass-produced beer so I wandered down to the concession stands to see what was available. I've become used at this stage for being asked for my ID all the time when buying alcohol and the production of my UK driving license usually confuses people (and not just because the photo makes me look like an axe-murderer...). However, the reaction I got from the guy at the bar in the ballpark was the best yet. He looked at me with total amazement and then said in a voice of wonder and curiosity, "You're from another country!?". I didn't really know what to say to that other than confirm it and again ask for my beer. He seemed in a daze for the rest of the transaction.
The team mascot for the Reds made an appearance at this stage - have fallen in love a little bit with 'Mr Redlegs' so it was good to see him in person...
At this point the national anthem was about to be sung and played - I was a bit conflicted about this moment - it's obviously not my national anthem so didn't quite know what to do. However, when 18,000 people all stand up, put their hand on their hearts and sing along you don't stay sitting. I have to say I felt a bit moved by it - we're not very good at that sort of collective public experience (Olympics aside) in the UK so I like that other countries can do it so easily.
The game now started proper and I was pleased that I actually understood a good 70% of what was going on. All the stats left me a bit confused but I basically understood what was happening and even predicted that one of the Milwaukee players was going to try to steal a base (unfortunately so did the pitcher and he was quickly out).
The rest of the evening was enjoyable enough - but given that people say that a day out at a cricket test match is boring (I totally disagree) I wasn't totally enthralled by the play all the way through. There was however loads of stuff going on around the ground and on the big screens - including: virtual three-card-monte to win Skyline Chili; a standing ovation given to an army veteran who was attending the game; a live "kiss-cam" where if the big screen camera focused on you you were obliged to kiss your partner and the 'seventh-innings-stretch'.
Cincinnati easily won the game and showed no mercy to Milwaukee - there was no sportsmanship on display - booing the opposing team getting a run is apparently totally acceptable...
An authentic America experience ticked off the list. Later in the trip I'm going to the Rice Owls play football in Houston - can't wait! A few final photos of the view from the stadium.