Destinations North America USA

An Australian perspective on baseball

outsiders take on baseball

Baseball. This sport has always gone over my head, much the same as cricket. The game seems to consist of tobacco-chewing blokes failing to hit a heavy ball with a thin wooden bat? If they succeed at this, they fail to make it to the first base because the hit-rate is so low that success is unexpected.

They seem to be taken by surprise (tinged with a little reluctance) at the prospect of having to run a few metres. I met a guy with a broken toe who hopped faster and with more enthusiasm than these gum-chewing athletes.

Baseball is the only field of endeavor where a man can succeed three times out of ten and be considered a good performer – Ted Williams

My Houstonian friend and I sat in an upper tier behind the home base, armed in true baseball fashion with hotdogs (disgusting) and crackerjacks (caramel popcorn mixed with peanuts? Ingenious!!).

There is some terribly kisch mid-innings entertainment to keep the crowd upbeat, and yet while my apparently-Australian skepticism scoffed at such banalities (we all know the Kiss-Cam), every couple pleasurably welcomed the Kiss-Cam, some slyly watching themselves on the big screen as they snogged.

Baseball was, is and always will be to me the best game in the world. – Babe Ruth

After the seventh inning, baseball’s unofficial anthem, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” enlivened the crowd, everyone standing to sing. The song was written in 1908 by two dudes who had incidentally never before been to a baseball game. (And by the way, the line in the song ‘She would root just like any man’ could be read quite differently in Australia).

take me out to the ball game song

Down to the ninth and final innings, the game had trudged along at a pace even slower than the players’ attempts at running. The home team, the Houston Astros, had scored one home run, a.k.a, a dinger, blast, dong, four-bagger, four-base knock, moon shot, tater, homer…

At the top of the ninth (away-team’s play at batting in the 9th innings), all bases were loaded (a player on first, second and third base). Just one bad throw from the Astros’ pitcher would result in a walk (gets to walk to first-base) for the batter. That would have given the away-team three immediate runs and the game would be over.

The fickle crowd alternated between cheers and boos between the good and bad pitches, but finally the third strike was declared, the away team was out and the Astros won the game. A tense moment was diffused with organ music and a few bursts of fireworks.

Love is the most important thing in the world, but baseball is pretty good, too. – Yogi Berra

The baseball lingo

While it’s hardly an addictive game, it really was an enjoyable experience, if only for developing a greater understanding of a sport so prevalent in popular movies. And to sign off, here are a few terms you may commonly use without awareness of their origins in, you guessed it, baseball:

So here’s the deal. You go to a job interview and you think you’re prepared, but the interviewers throw you a curve ball and suddenly you find yourself saying something right off the bat. But it seems to impress and you’re in. You wanted to earn over a hundred k and well, this salary is certainly in the ballpark.

You’ve stepped up to the plate, you’re in the major league now, and it’s a whole new ball game. Some of your ideas are a little hit and miss but that’s to be expected as a rookie. Nevertheless you try to cover all bases, make sure you’ve got things sorted, especially when the boss is constantly wanting to touch base with you. And with this kind of preparation, if they’re not happy with you, you can always go down swinging

For more US travel ideas

It’s a big continent, I know, and there’s a hell of a lot to cover. But if you’re looking for some USA travel inspiration, whether it’s visiting a shooting range or a bookshop city, you’ll find a whole bunch of ideas and inspo on my US Travels page. Check it out today.

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