Before the 12-hour flight from New Zealand to Seattle, I was advised to immerse myself in the American way of life. The tips were simple: Eat a bagel, buy some track pants from Abercrombie and Fitch and get to a baseball game. The latter recommendation proved more challenging than I had anticipated.
When I checked into my hotel last Saturday, I asked the concierge about any upcoming baseball games. He told me the local team was the Mariners, they were playing on Tuesday night and tickets were about $20.
A few blocks away, I felt comfortable enough to fold up my pocket map and follow the tide of fans.
The colossal stadium appeared, and I asked a friendly traffic cop where to buy tickets. He pointed to a scalper with a cardboard sign hanging from his neck. The scalper must have smelt my naivety. He was yelling at me before I even made it across the road – “I have your tickets Miss”– and his spit landed on my cheek. He offered me a $110 seat. I said I wanted the $20 version. We settled on $50. I was feeling rather proud of my haggling skills as I was shepherded into the stadium.
Despite his lack of enthusiasm, I was amping for the game. Coming from New Zealand, where the only exposure to baseball is in Hollywood movies, I had rather romantic notions of the sport.
When I finally found my section, row and seat number, I sat down with relief, put my plastic cup of Diet Coke in the holder and looked out at the field. Lo and behold, a bunch of soccer players were dancing around a football.
“Huh? Isn’t this supposed to be baseball? Where is the bat?” I said aloud.
The American girl next to me looked over and raised her manicured eyebrows. I gingerly continued: “Is this the pre-entertainment for the baseball or something?”
She laughed in my face, nudged the friend next to her, who told the friend next to her. Once the laughter died down, they explained there was a baseball game on at the local stadium down the road, but that I was most definitely at the soccer match.
I tried to scrape together some degree of dignity. “Oh, bugger,” I said. “Well, anyway, now that I am here, who is Seattle playing tonight?”
Once again, hysterical laughter. “This is the national team,” the girl said. “If we win this game, we go through to the FIFA World Cup.”
There was clearly no redemption from this. It was official – I was the most ignorant sports fan in the stadium. I slunk down in my seat and looked around at the swarming mass of red. I did not land myself at just any soccer match, this was the FIFA World Cup qualifier between the United States and Panama. http://blogs.seattletimes.com/take2/201 ... cmpid=2628