15
Aug
08

Take me out to the ball game…

Taiwan takes baseball seriously.

My father once drove my brother and I (I think it was three hours during which we whined all the way) to the world series little league game (which mystified my brother and I, since usually, my dad railed against the waste of time sports are, and neither of us were into baseball).  It turned out that Taiwan was playing the US, and my dad knew that every TV set in Taiwan would be on the game.  He thought we might end up being little dots on a screen back in Taiwan.

My cousin, who spent his elementary school years in Taiwan and can skip rocks 7 times across a stream until they hit the other side, said that he and his friends used to play in the dirt rice fields after the rice harvest, and it was a shame Taiwan didn’t have the infrastructure for a team back then.

On my first Christmas in Taiwan, I ended up going to a Taiwanese church service with my aunt and uncle, where after prizes were given out, an old man got up and started explaining the rules of baseball (when I whispered over to my cousin about what the rules of baseball had to do with Christmas, he shrugged, said he didn’t know, but maybe it was because everyone’s been watching Wang Jie Ming, the current pitcher for the Yankees).

So, if you didn’t know– today Taiwan played China in the Olympics, under the name, Chinese Taipei.  I just got back from a lunch that I intended to eat in half an hour, which took almost two hours, because in spite of the fact that I generally find baseball a boring game (sorry baseball fans, but ball-no hit, ball-strike, ball-no hit bores me after a while), I got sucked in.

This morning, our Chinese teacher said she wanted to have class in front of the TV in the hall today, since Taiwan was playing China.  According to her, the audience dances and sings at a Taiwanese baseball game.  We had a school Chinese competition (during which I proved that I can generally remember half of a character’s radicals, but not the other half)…  and I headed out to lunch where the game was on and tied, 3-3.  I and a couple other lingering lunchers ended up groaning and shouting together as the game wore on.

I allowed myself to leave when Taiwan was up 7-3.  A stroll down the street edged with offerings for the ghosts who wander this seventh month of the lunar year proved that every television in every restaurant was on the game, and surrounded by fans.

I couldn’t pass by the tea place’s beautiful little lcd screen turned to the street where the entire staff and a few other passersby who got caught by the game were watching.  As people would walk by, their steps would slow down to note the score, if they didn’t stop all together.  When it was Taiwan 7, China 5, with a batter up, and two on base*, the batter hit the ball…

And our signal cut out into a black screen, which we greeted with shouts of dismay.  I guess it couldn’t bear to actually show the Chinese team making the three runs that would win them the game, 8-7.  When the little mini antenna was finally adjusted so we got a picture, we saw the jubilant Chinese team, and gave a united sigh of despair.

I came to interview in NYC during the subway series where customers were asking for the score in the grocery store, and I worked one subway stop up from Yankee Stadium with a class full of Yankee fans.  My friends once dragged** me to a Mets game where T-shirts were shot into the stands, and fans shivered in the rain.  I still never really understood the fanaticism associated with baseball.

However, today…  Ah, my heart is broken.***

ETA:

*thanks to specific Olympic baseball rules that I didn’t understand when the tea shop owner tried to explain it to me in a mix of Chinese and English.

**correction: kindly invited me, and really, it was an interesting anthropological study and actually fun seeing T-shirts shot into the stands and sitting in a big stadium…  I just wasn’t into the game that much, though the celebratory music was nice, and the company cosy.

***exaggeration– I did feel a certain groaning mourning (one reason I don’t really get into competitive sport and games– people lose, it’s sad), but I didn’t end up crying in the park and crocheting a forever unfinished circle or blubbering to a friend or losing my faith in higher powers that allowed a certain Republican to retain presidential office.  It kind of feels wrong to say “my heart is broken” when, um, this guy’s heart did give out…

PS– this is the last year for Olympic Baseball, a better blogging of the game, and I’m going to close up my tabs and take a break from exercising my googlefu (If googling and internet marathons were an Olympic sport, I’m afraid I’d be a medal contender) and do my Chinese homework: what I would buy if I had lots of money– right now, I’m considering islands, conserving rainforest, starting schools, libraries, and art programs, several domiciles that include villas, cottages, and my own earthship in varying places in the world and a research lab to create a little solar glider I can zip from one to the other in…  Unfortunately my vocabulary doesn’t extend this far, so I will probably buy a green tea instead…

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