The baseball season kicks off in America this week, so we headed down to SBC Park to watch a game that isn't cricket. More rounders, I thought. The San Francisco Giants were playing the Milwaukee Brewers in a newish stadium by the bay, perfect for a three hour night out (starting at 6pm so it was all over before East Coast TV bedtime). We had tickets in the lower box, down near the pitchside, surrounded by a sea of blokes wearing not-quite tasteful black and orange clothing. I sat next to an extra-keen extra-loud dad who'd brought his 2-year-old son to the game (and had first brought the lad along at the age of 2 days). The son spent most of his time looking the other way, eating cotton candy and dribbling in my beer.
Unlike soccer, nobody watches the whole game in one sitting. Between innings, even during entire innings, half the crowd head off to stuff themselves with carbohydrate and grease. There are nine innings in a game, each lasting no more than twenty minutes, and sometimes an innings can be over in a flash without a ball being hit. Missed. Missed again. Missed again. Out. Repeat.
Baseball is a sports anorak's dream, and surely the only sport where the statistics stretch to three decimal places. But tonight, on my diamond debut, a real-life baseball record was set. Local hero Barry Bonds hit his 661st home run, edging into all-time third place behind national legends Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714). The ball sailed out of the park and landed in the waters of McCovey Cove where it was rescued by a fan in a kayak, presumably with an eBay auction at the ready. The crowd leapt to its feet and roared, there were fireworks, and Barry put in a lap of honour. Extra-keen dad missed history because he was off buying grease. But I was there.