College baseball. I love it. Not many people know that it exists (in comparison to college football and field hockey). Every spring you can see the gleam in the player’s eyes as they get ready to trade in aluminum bats for years of playing in the farm leagues until they’ve used enough HGH, unknowingly, to sign a multi-thousand dollar contract with the Kansas City Royals. To people who don’t follow college baseball, Omaha has been the home of the College World Series for over 50 years, will be for another 25 years, and is how I spend a week of my vacation every year.
I was sitting at a game this week, doing some self reflection as I often do, and began to realize how odd going to a baseball game would be if one was alien to the experience. Now, I won’t specify the type of alien (could be from Mars, could be from Canada) however the following is a cornucopia of oddities found within the great American past time…
organ music – No one plays the organ anymore, so I don’t know how this tradition carries on. For some reason the only songs that can be played on the organ happens to be polka music. The word “polka” actually translates into “polish woman” and originated in the 19th Century in Bohemia; these fun facts do nothing to explain why baseball games insist on entertaining the fans with the “beer barrel polka” and the chicken dance.
beach balls – The origin of the beach ball is actually from the land of general admission. Because these fans can’t see any of the game except for the occassional home run or right fielder they feel the need to entertain themselves by hitting a beach ball around the stands. I was sitting at a game tonight and talking to my brother about the banality (yes I sometimes use bit words at sporting events) of beach balls when someone across the way pulled one out and began to hit. We watched the ball come straight at us. It hit my lil’ bro in the face, ricocheted off my shoulder and landed in my lap. Not only did we make no attempt to hit the ball away, but was just sat there staring at it. Finally some other beach ball fan walked over, picked it up, and hit it back into the crowd. We eventually saw it reach the same demise as so many before it as it fell onto the field and an overzealous “grounds crew foreman” quickly picked it up and popped it. I still have yet to ever see a beach ball at the actual beach.
seventh inning stretch– “Um, so alien Canadian, this is where all us fans stand up and sing a song. Yes, I know we weren’t able to get all the fans to sing the national anthem together or take off their hats in respect, but this song is about cracker jacks”. Enough said.
gastronomy – It’s not fair to knock the culinary experience of baseball games when they are completely one upped by fried twinkies and turkey legs that are on grotesque display at state fairs and renaissance festivals. I do have to give a quick shout out to “Dippin’ Dots – the ice cream of the future” purely for the fact that I did work there for a short while in high school. And its great to see that it is truely the ice cream of the future since I am unable to find any other ice cream in the store today …
Washers – “Um, so alien Canadian, this is where people who are tailgating throw little metal circles into a wooden board with holes in it”.
Uniforms – Us Americans are a fancy bunch a prefer to have our athletes play the sport wearing sock stirrups, a button up shirt, and a belt. This is to be worn while they are being heckled by a drunkard with an old Astro’s tank top, cut off jean shorts, and a mullet.
Pinch Runners – Talk about skill specialization, to honestly be able to bring in someone else to run for you. I am going to use this concept to my fullest ability by employing a “pinch staff meeting attendeer” (yup, it’s a word).
Now I know that I should be more clever in wrapping up than actually spelling out “the end” but it’s somewhat late and I have used up quite a bit of my wittiness today via numerous texts, comments on friends blogs, and in conversation, so my apologies. I could go on and on about more odd sounding things (and yes, those of you that know me know that I can literally go on and on and on … ) But I’m going to stop here.