Take me out to the Ballgame!

Trip Start Apr 30, 2009
Trip End Jun 05, 2009

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Flag of United States  , California
Wednesday, May 27, 2009

"Take us out to the ball game,
Take us out with the crowd.
Buy us some peanuts and Cracker Jack,
We don't care if we never get back,
Let us root, root, root for the home team,
If they don't win it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out,
At the old ball game."

Not sure if the entire song translates into Oz-lingsh. We definitely don't think that rooting in public should be allowed (You Americans...Google it!) And you know what? They ACTUALLY sing this song at the ball game. Really. At the end of the 7th innings there's a stretch break and everyone gets up for a little sing-a-long. Apaprently they sometimes sing 'God Bless America' as well. You can imagine how thrilled Brad was to bounce around singing with a bunch of yanks.
So anyway, we've officially been out to the ball game. Apparently, we are now San Francisco Giants fans. Yay team!
We were given three challenges for this chapter and imposed one ourself:

Blend in (a.k.a. don't look Australian)
Eat Garlic Fries.
Get a hot dog with the lot.
Figure out what Cracker Jack is.

Which one do you think was the hardest challenge? You might be surprised...
The baseball stadium is really swish. It's called AT&T Park (after the phone company I guess), and we'd like to give a shout out and yippee to our friend Gil the Architect from Milwaukee who practically drew the whole stadium himself from scratch on a serviette (that's right isn't it Gilby?) The park is right on the bay, and they have an annual season count of 'splash hits', which is when the batter hits the baseball out of the stadium right into the bay. Splish! When we found this out, you could practically see Brad wriggling with excitement wanting to go down to practice with 'the team' to see if he could be the next Splash Hitter. Cricket, baseball... no real difference right?
Ok, so we managed to get to the ball park, get inside past security and find our seats in section 208. We watched the teams warm up, watched the mascot dance and tried to sing the Star Spangled Banner accompanied by the local marching band (yes, really, there was even a flugelhorn). How did we go with the challenges? Let's see...
1. Blend in. Several people have mentioned that this should've been easy enough as long as we didn't open our mouths. Something about an accent. Oi!!! So, with many a swagger and a "yo, 'sup, do dawg", we went undercover.  To prove our effort we did 'before and after' pictures. Yes, my hair does look slightly pink (San Fran happened to my hair) and we're still sporting the sunglass tan marks from Homestay U.S.A. BUT, after our makeover of a Giants jumper, hat, peanuts in their shell and a super-slugger souvenir drink cup we thought we looked pretty blended in thanks very much. We even asked the guy next to us for proof:
Us: Yo, man, howya doin' tonight?
Him: Ummm, fine thanks. Giants fans huh?
Us: yahhhhhhh. Go Giants! Wooo!
Him: Not from here huh?
Us: Ummm, no.
Him: Do you even know what baseball is?
Us: Yep. Like cricket, but doesn't go for five days. And they use a funny round bat.
Him: Have you even had garlic fries yet?
Which leads us to Challenge 2.
2. Eat garlic fries. Thanks a lot Justin from Boston who we met at the airport. Mmmm. Garlic Fries. Can't imagine why THAT hasn't been on our menu before. They are FOUL. If you'd like to replicate this at home, just eat minced garlic as a dip for hot chips. FOUL. I swear it took two days to stop burping that crap up.
3. Eat a hot dog with the lot, including onions and relish, challenge courtesy of Dan the highway Patrol Man from L.A. We have to ask, are these American hot dogs real food or just designed to make people ILL??? And why are they grilled? What happened to boiling a good old pork frankfurt? After our garlic fries, we really just couldn't face the hot dog (projectile spew over the balcony is not a good look), so a member of 'club 208' next to us took the challenge on our behalf. Actually, he had three dogs. And caramel popcorn. And a burger, two beers, three bags of free almonds from the nut sample lady, some of his mate's nachos and a bag of sunflower seeds. Baseball is all about eating. Shame it only goes for 3 hours, because that severely limits the amount of time these fans have for food shovelling.
4. Figure out what Cracker Jack is. It's popcorn coated in caramel, or as they say here 'carmel'.  Oh, and at $4 a bag is quite popular. Kind of slides down your throat to alleviate the garlic fries burn. You can get it in a packet, or just go the whole hog and get the noodle box size. By this, we mean 'in a bucket' of course.
So, what about the game then? Well, the Giants won. It was all very exciting for a minute there. Like, only a minute actually. Not a lot happens in baseball. It goes like this:

Batter up. Strike. Ball. Strike. Foul. Ball. Hit. Out on first.

Batter up. Ball. Foul (caught in the crowd... wooo!!). Strike. Foul. Hit. Caught out.
Batter up. Strike. Ball. Ball. Foul. Strike. Out. Side away.

This just happens over and over and over. NINE times for each team! Occasionally someone hits the ball properly (I mean really... how hard can it be??? These people get paid a squillion dollars just to do this!) and gets a to a base without getting out or maybe gets a home run. Everyone cheers and high fives. Woohoo!  So, between innings they have to entertain the crowd otherwise we all go to sleep. So we get sing-a-longs, puzzles on the big screen, crowd games, dancing competitions and the mascot chucking t-shirt bombs into the crowd.
Of course, what you get out of a baseball game depends on whether you're into it or not, so ask Brad, or our mates nearby and they'd probably say the game was a corker. For me, finally singing the Star Spangled Banner (pretending i'm Janet Jackson at the Superbowl of course!) was the highlight. But maybe that's the garlic fries talking.
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gildo on

A T & T Park
Formerly known as Pac Bell Stadium. LOL

'The baseball stadium is really swish. It's called AT&T Park (after the phone company I guess), and we'd like to give a shout out and yippee to our friend Gil the Architect from Milwaukee who practically drew the whole stadium himself from scratch on a serviette (that's right isn't it Gilby?)'

While I would like to take that credit, alas, I only worked on the toilets and concession stands. LOL Nothing glamourous about that, but if one imagines the number or people that use the loo or goes to get food and/or beer/beverage, then it is pretty cool.

Glad you guys enjoyed the ballpark! Now you'll have to do a tour of all the major sports venues in the U.S. next. :)

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