Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Take me down to the ball game

Baseball doesn't get much respect in the UK, but much to my surprise it became my brother Mike's favourite sport during his 3 year sojourn in the US. Alan and myself went to one game with him then, at the widely disliked New York Yankees (the Man Utd of baseball) and we repeated the experience at grass roots level with the Vancouver Canadians last night. And I mean grass roots; we hadn't realised how humble an operation this is. Vancouver play in the Northwest League, which glories in "Short Season A" classification. This seems to translate as 'about 3 levels below the major leagues and based in an area with too few teams to put together a full season.' Sort of like the Magners League if it mislays any more teams.

Vancouver's play was distinctly humble too, a 10-3 defeat to Tri City Dust Devils, with two of their runs scored at the bottom of the 9th, i.e. meaningless consolation prizes. But baseball is a family occasion and no one seemed to mind much. About 2000 fans, well short of full. Maybe Vancouverites are keeping their powder dry for bigger events. The Ice hockey (or just 'hockey' to the locals) season starts soon, and the big one is the Winter Olympics next year, which in true Olympic style is dividing the population, many feel it's a complete waste of money. More negativity than I've sensed re London's Olympics, I'm guessing that Montreal's experience in 1976 (they finally paid off the associated debts a couple of years ago) makes Canadians pretty cautious about this sort of thing.
The big TV sport seems to be UFC - Ultimate Fighting, which can be spectactularly brutal but can also degenerate into a boring variety of wrestling. It doesn't get reported in the papers, but I've seen it on TV a lot, far more than boxing, and one bar we were in was full of people who'd come just to see that night's big fight.

As a dry run for the Olympics, Vancouver has recently been hosting the World Police and Firemen games. So no point in Alan or myself trying to impress the local talent...

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