Friday, September 17, 2010
The National Past Time
I love baseball. One of my favorite things to do in the US was to go to see the Braves play...an afternoon at the park was hard to beat. There's nothing quite like it.
That being said, baseball here is on a different level. Even though this sport was transplanted here Koreans have made the experience strikingly different than a game Stateside. The stadiums are smaller, the prices cheaper, and the crowd is insane. Every pitch is treated like it's the bottom of the 9th and a 3-2 potential game winning pitch is on its way to the plate. It's so much fun! Getting to the game is really easy, a quick cab ride to the stadium. There are all sorts of fried chicken/squid vendors outside the stadium. Inside, there is more fried chicken and squid. Beer is about $2 a piece, but if you don't want to put up with those high prices you can always bring your own in. Yes, you can bring your own beer here.
One reason the crowd gets so ridiculous is because there is a hype man that leads them in chants. For each batter, in between each pitch he gets them going. Some teams have two guys with war drums, they beat those things and the crowd follows the beat. There is so much energy, and there's no room for the wave (finally). Both the home team and the away team have a guy that does this cheerleading. Sometimes its a person, sometimes its a mascot.
This is the mascot for one team, we found him calling his girl after the game. We also found him smoking a cigarette in his outfit during the game.
In Atlanta we have those foam tomahawks. Their cool, but you have to pay 6 or 7 bucks for one and then you know you won't remember it next time you come. Plus, the chop only happens so much and you can always use your arm if you forgot your tomahawk. Here, they use those inflatable tube things that make quite a racquet. A lot of the games they give them out for free, but you can also pay about .85 cents if you want a nice new set. Plus, don't worry about blowing them up--they have a tent with pressurized air that will do that for you.
If you don't have a set of these you'll be the only one in the stadium. You are expected to chant and pound those tubes together with everyone else. One of the chants actually calls for a home run.
I ran into these guys at a game in Gwangju, they were awesome. This is a picture of them celebrating after their team won with a walk off homer.
There are plenty of other differences...there is no 7th inning stretch, and you don't get that relaxed feeling that we have at the American ball parks. There is a big net that goes all the way down the 1st and 3rd baselines that is a little annoying to look through. And I haven't found a hot dog yet. But there are things that we wouldn't do that make so much sense. They have cheerleaders that dance on the dugout. They have beer chugging contests that they show on the jumbotron. I still can't figure out the fried squid, but they love 'em at the ballpark here. It's a great experience!