View Full Version : The English learn about baseball

06-03-2005, 04:05 PM
Not sure in which forum this belongs so mods feel free to move.
I spent a few years living in Europe and while there, made a lot of friends. Most of these guys were sports fans so, as a result, I learned a lot about European sports. As I’ve been back in Chicago for several years, I’ve kept in touch with my Euro friends and have tried to explain the nuances of baseball in Chicago, primarily over email. Well the USA vs. England match last Saturday provided the perfect excuse for some of my buddies to come out from London and visit Chicago. In addition to the soccer match, I also secured tickets for Cubs vs Rockies on Sunday (I only live a few blocks from the Urinal) in addition to Club level seats for the Memorial Day sellout. Here are some of the notable observations from the weekend.

Saturday afternoon heading down on the Red Line to Soldier field, we’re on a packed train. Considering the fact that there was little, if any mass media hyping of this event, I was pleasantly surprised at the great turnout. I was truly shocked at the number of Americans who were supporting England. The funniest example was on the train ride down to the game. We strike up a conversation with a girl about 19-22 fully decked out in England gear…she starts gushing at my buddies’ accents and declares that she wishes she was English. Since we were on the subway, I mention the fact that they had brought me a gift of goofy flip-flops with the London Underground map on them. So she asks…what’s the London Underground? Turns out that her only connection to England was a stopover in Heathrow. Needless to say, this brief encounter provided endless laughs throughout the weekend.

The game itself was quite nice and was the first time I’ve been in Soldier Field since 1989. I thought it looked great as a soccer stadium and was astounded that it didn’t look mammoth and disproportionate. Like I said, the majority of fans seemed to be rooting for England. While waiting in line for a hot dog, a group of guys in homemade t-shirts with phrases like “Tony Blair sucks!” or “I shagged posh spice” walk by chanting “England Sucks!” In addition to the t-shirts, they were wearing, you guessed it, cubs hats.

The next day at the cubs game, my buddies’ observations primarily focused on the fans who appeared to be doing everything but actually watching the game. A fact that was confirmed when people sitting on both sides of me, completely decked out in cubby gear asked me who was pitching and other cub-related questions! Being a regular reader of the “What’s the Score” forum, I was able to answer all their questions. Additionally, they were fascinated by the people that “completely turned their houses into adverts”. When I warned them of the medieval bathrooms, they said they were pretty much what they were used to while attending second and third division soccer games in England. They commented on how cramped and difficult it was to get in and out of the stadium. Thankfully, we stayed far away from the food.

In the interest of trying to present as balanced a picture as possible, I didn’t oversell the Cell. Well actually, by that point I was so hung over and tired from the relentless drinking all weekend, that I really wasn't saying much at all :redneck. Since it was half-price day on Monday, I picked up club level seats . They were shocked by the luxurious club level concourse. I had only sat up there once before and frankly found the seating a bit more cramped than the lower level. Plus being in section 350, the game seemed really far away. So we left the club level and watched the rest of the game from the outfield concourse and finally the bullpen bar. They were truly stunned by the entire experience and couldn’t believe that the Cell is considered “one of the worst” ballparks around and the urinal, “one of the best”. I noticed that they were snapping pictures on their camera phones all during the Sox game and not once during the flubbies game. They laughed when I told them that I’ve seen rubes take their wedding photos in front of the red urinal sign in the middle of winter.

We ended up in Jimbo’s and actually encountered avid Premier league fans eager to discuss West Ham’s triumphant ascent back into the Premier league! :bandance:

My conclusions from the weekend are basically cub fans suck no matter which game they’re attending and without a lifetime of perception based on the media telling you what’s a shrine and what’s a dump, you make a reasoned realistic comparisons. But all of us here already knew that. :cool:

06-03-2005, 05:31 PM
Nice story. WSI has a handful of baseball fans from the UK and "football" fans from the US.

06-03-2005, 07:18 PM
Nice story.. soon we will talk over the world.

06-03-2005, 10:36 PM
I was at a game last year and talked to a group of English guys for most of the game. I busted their balls about saving their butts in World War III. :D:

06-04-2005, 01:30 AM
From 1997-2002, I was living in Europe and channel 5 (England) had a couple of late-night games on per week. They also had some American baseball analyst named Todd, next to this old British guy who liked to dress like he was an extra from Austin Powers.

Anyways, during the 2000 season, I remember Todd constantly ripping on the Sox' attendance (what else is new). Then in 2001 channel 5 decided to go satellite-only so we couldn't watch any baseball. That was a tough year in Krakow...luckily, for me, the Sox were never really in the chase anyways. Oh well, more piwo time :redneck