Friday, October 15, 2010

Korean Baseball

Beautiful Gwangju Stadium
Baseball.  Ah the great American pastime.  The essential summer event.  A warm evening spent at the ballpark with your best friends or your best gal.  Hot dogs, the crack of the bat, grass, and "Take Me Out to the Ballgame".  Relaxing.....wait relaxing?  Why is a sporting event relaxing?  Oh that's right, because most of the time baseball is boring!  If it wasn't for all those other perks, there is absolutely no reason people would go to a baseball game to only watch baseball.  (Sorry stat nerds.)  Except for the occasional extra base hit, stolen base, diving catch, and strikeout, nothing happens!  Noticed I left beer out of the perks.  Unless you just gained an inheritance or you're suffering from severe withdrawal symptoms, there's no way you're paying for more than one beer at the baseball game.  This is not a sports blog so I'm not going to mention the multiple reasons the sport of baseball sucks in today's America, but there are many.  (Yeah, I'm giving you the stink eye New York Yankees.)

Sorry, I'm not trying to hate on baseball, I'm just trying to point out there's room for improvement.  I really enjoy going to Kansas City Royals games a few times each year even though they are the most consistent team at being terrible.  Professional baseball is just turning in to a forgettable sport behind most others, especially the NFL and NBA.  However, the Korean baseball experience is much different.

Giant KIA Tiger
South Korea has taken America's favorite pastime and turned it in to a baseball game combined with a college football game, and then combined that with a house party.  We were here for only the last month of the regular season but managed to make it out to three games.  We had such a good time at the first one we had to go back for some more before it was too late.  Last year Gwangju's team, the KIA Tigers, were a powerhouse and won the national championship.  This year they were third or fourth from the bottom of the league.  As a result the stadium was maybe half full each time but it was still a rockin' good time.  I can only imagine what last year must have been like. 

1.)  BYOB - The first thing that makes the Korean Baseball experience so great is the "Bring Your Own Booze" policy.  That concept is unimaginable in America.  Maybe even illegal? So bring your own cooler of beer and soju, or buy some booze at one of several stalls outside the stadium that also sell buckets of fried chicken.

2.)  Thunder Sticks - Don't forget your thunder sticks.  You'll be using these with each at bat, between innings, and to hit your friends or your dad.

Baseball Cheerleaders
3.)  Cheerleaders - The KIA Tigers have four attractive women with changing wardrobes that dance on top the dugout between innings.  Then there's the male cheerleader with the megaphone leading the crowd in what seems to be a three hour array of chants.  Then there is the hilarious mascot that once gave the crowd a strip show.  He began with a provacative dance, then removed his over sized gloves, then kicked off his over sized shoes, followed by the fat tiger mascot body, and ended by tossing off the giant tiger mascot head.  This revealed a man in a black full-body suit (like green man) who proceded to break dance for like a minute.   

4.)  General Admission - For seven dollars you can sit practically anywhere in the stadium!

I'm already excited for next season.  I'm going to buy some thunder sticks and chant with the Koreans even though what I'll be saying will be nonsensical.  Are they chanting "We have your laptop" or "Halloween Easter egg"?  In don't ball! 

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