The Sports Section
The stadium is HUGE, I mean HUUUUUUUGE and we were at the top of it. Cheap places, surrounded by true fans, who were very much into the game. Now, first, the stadium, called the Minute Maid Park, after its sponsor, is not only huge but it is also like a small shopping center. You have all kinds of fast food, stores where you can buy t-shirst, hats and all sorts of baseball souvenirs, it has escalators as well, to go all the way up to the top seats. It reminded me more of the bullfight arena in Lisbon (Campo Pequeno) than of a football stadium… Strange. Anyway.
Baseballl is for everyone. Top executives, white collars, blue collars, no collars whatsoever, they’re all there, united by the passion of this game. You see friends together, couples, families, from 5 months babies to 80 year old grandmas. Why are these people so interested in this sport? Well… honestly… I guess because it’s… challenging!! Really. Ok, the games do last around 3 hours, where ¾ of the time is spent looking at a guy swinging a bat and missing the ball, or not swinging at all. Now… let me try to explain the rules to you.
There’s a square, right? With 4 bases in each corner. The home base is where the batter is, swinging his bat. Or not. The pitcher is in the center, and he tries to throw the ball to the batter, or not… (at this point it helps to clarify that batter and pitcher are from opposite teams), but it is only a valid throw if the ball goes above a small area marked on the ground beside the batter. Now… the batter, if he swings when it is not a valid throw, it’s a strike – meaning a bad thing for the batter’s team. Because 3 strikes, make a batter go out. Each team has, I don’t know, around 10 players… I don’t remember, but every player has to bat. Now… When a player hits the ball, and it’s a valid throw, he can run to the next base. If he gets there before the opposite team’s players return the ball to the base where he is arriving, he can stay there. I saw a player actually making it to second base from his own batting, which apparently is great. And I understand why… Other things may happen, like they can hit the ball and it can go outside the field (fowl), or he can hit the ball really well and it goes really high and the opposite team catches it in the air, before it touches the ground and that is BAAAD – the batter is immediately out. What happens when a batter is out? Another batter comes in. When a team who is batting has 3 players out, then the teams switch. I believe this is the end of an inning (but I’m not very sure).
Why the hell is it so difficult to bat well? Because there are many types of throws that a pitcher can do. He can throw a fastball, a slow ball, a curved ball, etc… The batter has to guess where the ball is gonna be at the time he swings, if it’s gonna be valid, etc. Owf. I would say baseball is not a big emotion game. It’s calm and nice. There is very little contact between players, except when they are running to the bases. Then you get to see them sliding like seals, exactly in the same way, because they’re also a bit chubby, baseball players… And they may accidentally or on purpose bump into the guy who is receiving the ball. Last time that happened was a recent event, and both teams got into a huge fight, it was like rugby, everyone in a pile.
So, let’s end, because I already see heads tilting and saliva running down the corners of my virtual audience’s mouth. Playing: Houston Astros versus Texas Rangers (a team that was owned by George Bush, son). Another reason for me to support the Astros. Goooooooooooooooooooooooooooo, ‘Stros!!! That was the ridiculous cheer they had. They lost. I'd go for changing cheer. Or players.
In the end, we had a lovely sunset over the Houston downtown skyline. Very nice indeed. So I liked the game, I liked the sport, it’s nice and gives you time to go get a hotdog or something… Not like soccer where my heart jumps every second (I just don’t know whether from emotion or from my sister’s screams – this time I’m not watching the World Championship with her… * sigh * ). Which brings me to the next topic!!! Soccer!!!!!!! I’m looking forward for the Championship! Everybody, let’s do our best! But anyway it will be fun to watch the games, no matter who wins. Hmm, I wonder if there will be a Portugal – Netherlands. Cause we’ll kick your ass again, ehehehe.