baseball culture · Baseball Memories

How a Girly Girl Became a Baseball Fan

DSC_0044

I always like to tell people,

“I married into a love for baseball.”

My parents and brother give me crap because as a child I was your average luke-warm-fan-of-the-home-team {Padres} but when I married, I married into a love of the game, and a love of the Dodgers.

I always liked baseball. My brother and I even once scored tickets from a family friend to a very exciting playoffs game. But I never really knew or understood the game fully.

When David and I got married we lived on a half-a-shoestring budget. We had no cable but our college town happened to have a station on the Dodgers Radio Network, so we listened to just about ever Dodgers game on the radio (so old-school, huh?).

It was then that I “met” Vin Scully and began to learn all the ins and outs of the game, got to “know” the players and some of the Dodgers lore and history, and basically fell in love with America’s pastime.

Here are a few things I love about baseball

-it’s (essentially) a summer sport, so it invokes feelings of long, warm days
-it’s a mellow, relaxing game, most of the time.
-other times it is so exciting that you worry your husband will fall off the top deck at Dodger Stadium because he’s jumping and cheering so enthusiastically.
-it’s a family thing for us (we have quite the extended family of baseball fans).
-it has a rich American history.
-it’s become a global game, especially in countries where they speak my other language.
-the culture, players and fans are generally pretty down-to-earth; the vast majority of pros are not known for their extravagant lifestyles (superstars aside)
-it spans all ages and generations.
-it’s a family-friendly sport.

I’d consider myself a pretty sport person, tolerant of almost every sport, but here are a few factoids on why I would definitely categorize myself, 29-year old crafty, stay-at-home mom of a girly, as a bonafide Baseball Fan…

-I’ve been to 20 out of 30 Major League Baseball parks.
-I’ve been to several Spring Training games, in both FL and AZ.
-I’ve been on a 3-week long road trip to a dozen games across the Midwest and East Coast.
-I allow a collection of bobbleheads in my master bedroom.
-I attempt to run a baseball blog with my hubby (we’re not very consistent with it yet though, but stick with us, we have some great ideas in the works!).
-I play fantasy baseball. With my mom. (we totally tanked last year. my father-in-law whipped us all. we vow to pay a little more attention to our team this year). :)
-my daughter (who went to her first game at 3 weeks old)’s favorite color is Dodger Blue. And she loves Manny.
-I even find myself watching baseball when David’s not home!

Can I get a shout out from any other female fans? How did you get turned on to baseball?

We’re headed out to catch a few Cactus League games this weekend- looking forward to some sun and some foul balls! And you can bet our little one will be stoked to see Manny!

Baseball Games · The Majors

Dodgers vs. Angels

Here are some photos from a game we went to last year on June 20th, 2009. We love going to Angel Stadium (Gigi and I particularly like the Rally Monkey), especially when we get to see the Dodgers play there. The “Freeway Series” is always a fun rivalry. Angel Stadium will always be special to our family since our little Gigi went to her first baseball game there almost three years ago.

We used to live really close to Angel Stadium and would even ride our bikes there to catch a game. Here’s a parking tip… if you get there early enough there are a handful of free parking spots on Orangewood just east of the 57 freeway. Just walk under the freeway, over the bridge and there’s a gate where you can walk in to the stadium.

Here’s the photos from that game… a little reminiscing to get us thinking about the excitement of a new season.
http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=71649

baseball culture · Baseball Movies

Baseball Movies: Eight Men Out

Today my brother pointed out that there are only 78 days until the 2010 MLB season begins… woohoo! As we get ready for baseball, we wanted to share some “reviews” of baseball movies. Some our family favorites, some are new to us.

We got things going this week with the classic (new to us), Eight Men Out.

Eight Men Out ReviewThe Movie

Eight Men Out is the story of the eight players on the 1919 White Sox who allegedly threw the World Series; they were also known as the “Black Sox.” The movie was made in 1988 and is full of well-known actors in their earlier days, several of whom will appear in other baseball (or sports) movies such as Charlie Sheen, David Strathairn, Christopher Lloyd and D.B. Sweeney (if you count The Cutting Edge as a sports movie).  This movie is a great one to view before watching Field of Dreams (more on that classic later) as it gives a little history of that tainted team, and specifically “Shoeless” Joe Jackson.

His Take

Perhaps the most interesting part of this movie is emphasis on the role that the whole team played in the scandal.  Shoeless Joe Jackson is typically the the one associated with the scandal because he was the best player on the team.  As a competitor, it’s difficult to believe that professional athletes actually took part in a scheme of this magnitude.  The cast is great and the baseball scenes are believable, which is important for the credibility of this historical baseball film.

Her Take

John Cusack is one of my favorite actors, so right off the bat I knew I’d like this one. Seriously though, I liked the history lesson, and the interpretation on whether questionables like Buck Weaver and Shoeless Joe were really involved in the fix. The one thing I wonder is… what if MLB and the commissioner were as hard on “cheaters” now as they were 90 years ago? We’d be out a lot of superstars, that’s for sure.

Family Take

Put the kids to bed for this one. It’s a drama that would be over the heads of young ones, although an older kid who’s interested in the history of the game might like it. The language isn’t too bad, but be sure to consider ethical issues present like gambling and drinking during prohibition.

photo credit: puck36

Baseball Games · Baseball Randomness · Family Fun · The Majors

She’s Learning Her Colors

Yesterday my dad took Chiquita to the grocery store. Apparently, he asked her which “car cart” she wanted to drive/ride in. Her choices were red and blue. Now, let me point out that this is the girl that almost always responds with a confident “yellow!” when asked what color something is, regardless of what it really is. But not this time! without hesitation, she pointed to the blue cart and said, “Dodger Blue!” Atta, girl.

Now if only the Dodgers had a mascot she could love like she loves the Philly Phanatic (he’s one of the only green things she can correctly identify). At least one member of our household was glad to see the World Series played in Philly– she loves the Phanatic almost as much as she loves Manny (good thing for us, he’ll be back next year)!

This is how she looked every time she saw the Phanatic when we were in Philly:
DSC_0339

Speaking of Dodger Blue, we got to go to a playoff game this year to root on the Blue. Unfortunately, we all know how the season ended but the game we went to, NLDS Game 2, was pretty darn exciting! Going to a playoff game was all David wanted for his birthday (well, aside from attending a World Series game, but alas, that was not an option this year). Click over to view the slide show if you are in a reader or your email inbox).
http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=71649

We’ll be thinking blue all off-season and are already looking forward to Spring Training ’10!

Ballpark Reviews · Baseball Games · Baseball Road Trippin' · The Majors

Baseball Road Trip: Game 13 in Cincinnati

The famous saying goes,”All good things must come to an end.”  Unfortunately, this was true for our trip of a lifetime.  Our final stop on this tour of America’s great ballparks brought us to Cincinnati and the Great American Ballpark.  This home of the Reds is situated right up against the Ohio River in downtown Cincinnati.

We made the trek across Ohio from Cleveland and arrived in downtown Cincinnati with plenty of time to spare.  We even had time to make the quick jaunt across the river and add Kentucky to our list of states visited on this trip.  While we didn’t have time to see much in our five-minute drive in the Bluegrass State, I am sure that there are tons of great things to do and see there (except for Major League Baseball, of course).

To take full advantage of the river view, we bought seats in the upper deck right behind home plate.  Because the demand for Reds tickets is not exactly off the charts, we were able to score some handicap seats so we didn’t have to check Chiquita’s stroller.  These seats not only afforded us a great view of the field, but they looked out over the river.  Had it been sunny, the view would have been more spectacular.

As our luck would have it, we found ourselves in a rain delay after the first inning.  However, the rain delay experience at the Great American Ballpark was unlike any other we had seen. We got to experience some of the hardest, densest rain we had ever seen.  Fortunately, we made it into the covered concourse area in time to avoid the downpour and lightning.  Paul Brown Stadium, where the Bengals attempt to field an NFL team in between jail terms, sits about a half mile west of the ballpark.  On a sunny day it can easily be seen from the upper concourse.  Not on this day.  The silhouette disappeared as the rain fell in massive amounts.

After huddling in the upper concourse for a while, we made our way down to the field level and were very pleased to find a large wall full of flat screen TVs playing all the other games from around the league that night.  Due to the rain delay, the area was packed with soaked fans, but the sight of seven simultaneous baseball games brought smiles to our faces.  After at least an hour delay, the game against the Braves eventually resumed.  Since we had a two-hour drive ahead of use, we had to call it quits in the fifth inning.

Leaving that last stadium was a bittersweet moment.  We had begun to live the dream of seeing America’s pastime in all corners of the country.  The teams, players, fans, conversations, bratwursts, rivalries, subway rides, stadiums, and baseball had taken us on a great journey.  We have aspirations to visit the remaining ballparks in the next couple years (I think there are ten left).  If the opportunity presents itself for this type of trip, there should be no hesitation.  You never know what you will see in America’s ballparks.

Enjoy the slideshow of our great trip’s last game.

http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=71649

baseball culture · Baseball Randomness

The Culture of Baseball

DSC_0037

One of the things I love about the sport of baseball is the culture that goes along with it. The love of the game goes beyond the nine innings and the twenty-five man roster. It stretches towards books, movies, songs, and more. It is a culture that inspires road trips and pilgrimages and international camaraderie.

It is an almost romantic pastime, if we look at the Oxford definition of the word: inclined toward or suggestive of the feeling of the excitement and mystery of love. Doesn’t that describe the attitude of most serious baseball fans? There’s definitely an excitement and mystery in loving the game of baseball.

A simple search on Amazon for the word baseball brings up results in thirty categories, from DVDs to Jewelry to Gourmet Food– we’re talking thousands and thousands of results. In one sense the sport has possibly just become as commercialized as anything else in pop culture, but on the other hand, maybe this phenomenon is simply due to a sincere, widespread love of the game.

Stay tuned as we review and discuss our favorite items and aspects of Baseball Culture here on Round Ball, Round Bat.

Ballpark Reviews · Baseball Games · Baseball Road Trippin' · Stadium Tour Guide · The Majors

Baseball Road Trip: Game 12 in Cleveland

Our second-to-last stop on this grand baseball trip was at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio.  We had purchased our tickets ahead of time from the Indians’ website because it was Major League Monday complete with a Rick Vaughn bobblehead giveaway.  As it turns out, our good planning was unnecessary as there were plenty of good seats available at the box office on the night of the game.  (We are used to the promotion nights at Dodger Stadium where riots break out when there are stadium giveaways.)

We were treated to a pretty good interleague game between the Indians and the visiting Milwaukee Brewers, but our baseball experience began with a tour of Progressive Field.  We walked over to the stadium from our hotel (thank you, Priceline for booking us at the Residence Inn one block from the stadium) and enjoyed a walking tour of what used to be one of the busiest ballparks in the Majors.  From 1995 to 2001, the Indians sold out 455 consecutive games, the Major League record at the time.  They have commemorated this streak by hanging this number with their retired jersey numbers in right field.  Boston’s Fenway faithful have since surpassed this mark, but it’s a nice touch for a city which saw great baseball success in the late 1990s.

Quicken Loans  Arena – the home of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers – sits right next to Progressive Field, but I was very disappointed that we didn’t run into to Lebron James while we were out and about.  As a consolation, we were greeted by a 100-foot by 150-foot (approximately) poster of King James on the side of one of the surrounding buildings.  He was, of course, blowing some chalk in the air before a game.  If the Cavs had made the Finals, game 5 of would have taken place while we were there.

Nonetheless, we were treated to a great baseball atmosphere on Major League Monday.  We received our Rick Vaughn bobbleheads (Chiquita even got one) and had plenty of time to check out the park before the game.  We are pretty convinced that it was no coincidence that the Brewers were in town on Major League Monday.  Bob Uecker is a broadcaster for the Brewers and he threw out the first pitch.  Throughout the game, we were treated to clips from the movie as well as behind the scenes trivia from the classic baseball flick.

Once again we found ourselves fraternizing with fellow baseball fans.  We ditched our assigned seats and eventually found some handicap seating behind home plate on the upper deck.  We ended up sitting near a man and his teenage daughter who had just had surgery on a labrum in her shoulder.  We would not have thought twice about this except that Nicole’s dad had just had a similar surgery.  I felt bad for her as she tried to eat her awesome stadium dinner with her good arm.  At one point she kicked over her soda and I was very sad because it was Mountain Dew.

Anyways, the baseball game ended up being very entertaining.  The Brewers won the slugfest by the score of 14-12 and, as you might image, the game was not short on home runs.  Prince Fielder provided the most excitement with a line drive grand slam that put the Brewers ahead.  Our final treat was a fireworks show after the game.

Our experience in Cleveland was fantastic – here are the pictures from the tour…
http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=71649

And the game…
http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=71649