Baseball. America’s pastime. The perfect summer activity. Long hours under the sun with an ice-cold beverage in hand spent simply waiting for something to happen. Well this weekend, I had the pleasure of attending not one, but two baseball games. Lucky me.
For me, the danger of making the trek to the ballpark is less about the food and drink readily available for consumption, and more about the nostalgia. Growing up, my family went to a lot of baseball games. In the 80′s the Oakland A’s entertained us with the ”Bash Brothers,” went to two World Series in a row and introduced garlic fries to their stadium. I wasn’t particularly into baseball as a young girl, in fact I remember being pretty bored most of the time, but I was totally into those garlic fries. And the hot dogs. And the chocolate malts. And the peanuts. I was also into all of the traditions involved in going to the ballpark. Dot races, kiss cams and 7th inning stretches where we would belt out “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” At one point growing up, the Oakland Coliseum went through a remodel and they used to make the construction workers come out and dance to “YMCA” at ever game. Good times.
So now that I’m a real life grown-up, every time I walk through the gates of a baseball park, I am swept up in a wave of nostalgia. I suddenly have an intense craving for a hot dog and some peanuts. I want to sit and throw peanut shells onto the ground – I love an establishment where it is expected that you will throw your trash on the ground! I want to remove my hat and criticize the person singing the National Anthem (I mean, I could do so much better). I want to be surrounded by friends and I want to make friends with everyone surrounding me, slapping high fives after every run scored.
As an official Los Angeleno, I have converted myself into a Dodger fan as I firmly believe that the point of baseball is to “root root root for the home team.” I even met Tommy Lasorda recently and proceeded to tell him all about how his ’88 Dodgers beat my ’88 A’s, crushing my childhood spirit, but now I’m a Dodger fan and I live near the stadium and I’m married to a die-hard Dodger fan and isn’t baseball magical? To which he just grunted and signed my Dodger apron that they had given me when I walked through the gates that day. Ah, baseball.
At Dodger’s Stadium, one of the traditions I love is the real live organist, Nancy B., who plays every game. My husband and I have lots of fun trying to name the tune that sounds funny coming out of an organ – usually some sort of show tune or standard. Every game I’ve ever been to, in the break between the 3rd and 4th inning I find myself humming “Food, glorious food,” from the musical Oliver. I don’t really know the words, so it usually sounds like this, “Food, glorious food, na na na…indigestion!” She plays it while they show a video with all the different food options that Dodger’s Stadium has to offer. Nobody but me seems to have any familiarity with this song, but sure enough, we all find ourselves trudging up the steps to claim our Dodger Dog and nachos.
And that’s the problem with baseball. Even if you don’t like baseball, when you go to a baseball game you want to eat a hot dog. Because there’s nostalgia attached. What are we nostalgic for? I’m nostalgic because of pictures of my dad holding a 1-year-old version of me wearing an A’s t-shirt and kiddie sunglasses. I’m nostalgic because of movies like “Field of Dreams” and “A League of their Own.” I like to imagine all the fans and all the baseball players that have come and gone from that stadium, hot dogs and peanuts in their bellies, triumphs and failures on their minds. But why must the nostalgia lead to mass consumption? Because Nancy B plays a musical theatre song about orphans being hungry? Because that’s what I did when I was 8? Lame.
So this weekend, I tried to focus on the non-food traditions. We stayed for the fireworks show on Friday, cuddling up to ooh and ahh and the pops of light in the sky. Success!
On Sunday, we had GREAT seats (thanks to Jon’s fancy lawyer job and his firm’s seats). Fancy seats include a baseball buffet complete with omelette station, piles of Dodger dogs and a dessert bar. I knew I needed to throw my focus away from the fro-yo station with the vats of candy toppings. So I actually focused on the game. Well, I focused on the batters rubbing tar on their bats and the progression of dirt on their uniforms. I sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” at the top of my lungs and yelled encouraging things to my Los Angeles Dodgers as they walked up to the plate. I’m pretty loud, so I’m sure they heard me and were thus encouraged. At one point I did accept the free peanuts offered to me in my seat, but quickly realized I didn’t actually want them and threw the whole package, unopened, on the ground. Not quite as satisfying as dropping shells, but it did the trick. I even made friends with the people seated around me when after a bad call, I yelled “Yer blind ump, yer blind ump, you must be outta yer mind, ump!”
I guess, on some level, everyone appreciates a musical theatre reference.
And I had a ball. Pun intended.