Let's start with baseball. Yes, the sport to me formerly known as the sport where a guy throws a ball, another one hits it, and some stand around and watch; in other words: the sport that seems like the slowest sport on earth to me. Seriously, when it comes to American sports, I am such a German. Meaning: I can tell you the exact minute when Germany scored the crucial goal against Argentina in the World Cup of 2006 (mintue 80), but when it comes to baseball or worse, football, I just see a big field and a bunch of padded guys doing strange things.
Now, I guess this general ignorance is somewhat acceptable for a foreigner, but I simply got tired of being the only one who didn't get the punchline of a sports joke. Even one of my usually very understanding American friends was somewhat shocked when he told me casually about Reggie Jackson, and I just asked: "Reggie Who???". It became clear to me that if I wanted to understand and be a part of American culture, at some point I just HAD to get into sports. So baseball it was (mainly because football tickets are three times more expensive, but shhh ... don't tell anyone)! And I wanted to do it right, the whole nine yards, so to speak. This meant no participant-observer I-am-standing-back-and-watching-everybody attitude this time! If I was going to watch a Cincinnati Reds baseball game, I wanted to look like a real fan. So I searched my boyfriend's closet for his smallest Reds T-shirt, made him dress up in full gear as well, and off we went. I felt prepared.
My game plan was mainly not to make a complete fool of myself. Well, I think that strategy failed as soon as we got to the stadium and I wanted to run to get to our seats since the game was about to start. I didn't know that that's exactly what you DON'T do at a baseball game. Unlike soccer, where you don't want to miss a second of the 90 minutes, because you never know, you might miss the goal of the century in those first 3 seconds! Not so with baseball. It seems that people at a ballpark do pretty much everything BUT watch the game: they get drinks, hot dogs (yes, I had some, too - just like in the movies!!!!), they walk around and then they finally and slowly go to their seats. Which made perfect sense once I understood that the game only gets really interesting after the 5th inning. These first innings however (check that out, I even know what an inning is now!), gave me enough time to annoy the heck out of everybody around me by asking about pretty much anything and everything that was going on during the game. “Why can only one team score? What is a strike? What does it mean to steal a base?” And my most frequently asked question— “Hey, what just happened???”
Meet my veeeeery patient friends!
I even got the notion that baseball involves a lot of strategy and even if I still don't appreciate the pitcher taking 20 minutes to throw a ball, I can grasp - at least on a very basic level - some of the strategy behind it. So guess what? It wasn't boring at all!