Hot-Dogs and Circuses

Sally is now happy. Her one requirement on coming over here on exchange was that she get to see a professional ball game (or baseball game for those of us not up on the technical terms of American sport), and on Saturday night that requirement was fulfilled when Sue Cuson took us to the Fifth Third Ball Park to watch the West Michigan Whitecaps, a Class A farm team for the Detroit Tigers.

Last night was not a good night, either for the Whitecaps (whose name does not refer to their headgear, which is blue, but to the whitecaps on the waves of Lake Michigan), or for their big brothers the Tigers as the latter got whipped by local rivals the Chicago Whitesox, while we watched the home team grind out a 2.1 defeat, against Cedar Rapids Kernels. In all honesty, even speaking as a complete novice to the game... the batsmen were rubbish... Well, either that or the pitchers were superb, and I have my suspicions which way round it might be. Either way, the bases only got loaded once (see how proficient I am with the "baseball-speak") in the whole game and 2 out of three runs were largely down to fumbles on the part of fielders

But even if it was a rubbish game, it was a great family night out... Even the food was better quality than normal... Instead of a hotdog of dubious provenance I had a "swimming pig" - a boneless pork chop with onions peppers and barbeque sauce in a bap...

The inter and intra-innings entertainment was up to the usual high standard, including the worst magician I have ever seen and a race between inflatable eyeballs! If we had gone tonight it was British Humor night... God alone knows what that means, but Benny Hill featured on the poster, so that alone was reason to stay away. Yesterday was "Bring Your Dog to the Game Day" which again would not have been a big attraction for me. But the big feature for our evening was a superb closing firework display, although the game was over so quickly that we had to wait for 30 minutes (watching that awful magician) before it was dark enough for the fireworks. It was worth the wait however.

So Sally had a good time. But now she wants to go back, and is even talking about when can we go see a major league game. But then I had to explain that the big boys don't have inflatable eyeball races between innings.

There was one thing however that struck me as slightly strange... Even unnerving... I suppose I have noticed it on previous visits, but never put the pieces together... and that is the close affinity between churches, the military and baseball. As we arrived the local recruiting regiment for the US Airforce were swearing in their latest recuits... When we last went as a family 5 years ago (to the Pawtucket Redsox) there was a person by person tribute to the war-dead in Iraq... I suppose that list is too long to honour in full now... Then as the game was going on the stadium announcer was reciting a list of the groups present that night... and most of them were church groups, from all denominational affinities. The ballpark must be the most ecumenically inclusive space in Grand Rapids, because there were groups sitting together watching the game who would never have sat together in any other circumstances.

And I got to wondering when was the last time that there was such a coming together of the state military machine, religion and sport, and I guess that we either need to go back to medieval tournaments... Although I am informed that they were much more elitist audiences than Hollywood films would have us believe... or probably the Roman games...

Another sign that we are once again in the age of empire...

But at least they don't throw Christians to the lions as inter-innings entertainment... Yet...


Becky said…
AH favorite American sport! :) I am glad you got to go to a game even though it was not really a good one. And you are right...the military, churches and baseball do intermingle at baseball games. And I don't think that happens anywhere else! At least you got a good fireworks display!
Pam said…
This was highly entertaining. If you ever come down this way, tell Sally I will get her tickets to see the Braves play. You know it's the "All American Past Time" with apple pie and all that stuff. You know - you may need to take your writings while here and compile them into a book. I think it would definitely sell.

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