Saturday afternoon and the sun is beginning to set over Petco Park in down town San Diego. The suns rays warm, as they stretch out, covering the top rows of seats, high up in the stadium, behind the Padres dug out. Vendors run excitedly up the steps, calling out “Cracker Jacks”, “Churros”, “Hot Dogs” and “Peanuts”, tempting all with their snacks. Food perfectly suited to gobble up while slurping down on the large plastic tumblers of Budweiser. The LA Dodgers step up to the plate and the San Diego Padres have taken their spots on the field. The sea of blue and white supporter shirts, jerseys, caps and novelty oversize hands blend their voices together in one big blur of chanting, cheering and sledging. The pitcher throws the ball straight into the strike zone raising cheers and boos and starting off a game that will continue to be close right through to the end of 11th innings.
This only being my second ever Baseball game to witness, I had a lot to learn about the game. With the help of the 31000 plus people at the opening week game, I quickly picked up which players were traitors (having swapped teams during the off-season), which players from the oppositions team were on steroids and which players had to hit a home run (they’d signed someones baseball cap, so they needed to hit a home run to make it worth something), all through the various team rivalry sledging being yelled out from the seats behind me. The first five innings went by with the Dodgers claiming five runs, including one home run and the Padres failing to live up to their supportive crowds cheers. The sixth innings however, the Padres gave the crowd a reason to cheer, making five runs to tie the game up. I was on the edge of my seat, this stuff was exciting and the
energy building up in the stadium from the passionate fans was contagious. It didn’t matter that I didn’t really know what was going on, as long as I cheered for the home town team. And then the excitement level rose another notch as I leapt into the baseball snack food experience. Carne Asada Fries. Melted nacho cheese, mince and salsa piled upon french fries. My baseball experience was now complete. I spent the next two innings stuffing my face with gooey nacho cheese covered fries and watching the crowd get revved up by the dancing Padre mascot and the “charge” music that played every so often and raising the crowd out of their seats to yell charge at the players on the field.
When LA finally beat the Padres in the 11th innings, it was time to head into the bars and clubs of down town San Diego with the rest of the crowd to celebrate/drink away the loss, depending on which team you cheered for. Getting festively drunk, losing in straight sets in international bar Ping Pong championships and chatting to the lady selling chocolates/candy on the sidewalk about why she was selling candy at 11pm at night, all highlights of my post baseball game experience. Dressed in my new San Diego t-shirt, jeans and skate shoes, I began to feel slightly out-of-place amongst the beautiful people who were now appearing on the sidewalk and in the bars. We’d reached midnight and the glamourous South Cal ladies and gents were taking over from the baseball jersey clad fans. Hailing a cab, I stumbled in and talked baseball (now that I’m a hometown fan, with my supporter shirt and all) all the way home.