First of all, apologies for the lack of updates lately. There have been a few reasons, one being that I’ve been feeling really disconnected and homesick especially since everything in Boston happened, and two being that my life hasn’t been very interesting since I’ve mostly just been studying for the TOCFL (Chinese proficiency test—that I take this Saturday) and the GRE (test date TBD).
Anyway, even though most of the people I know here would say their favorite sport is basketball, baseball is still really popular and important in Taiwan. Fact time: the first indigenous baseball team was formed in Taiwan in 1906, and the baseball teams consisted mostly of Japanese players through the mid-1920s (yay colonization?) The Chinese Professional Baseball league was formed in my birth year, 1989, and today there are 4 major teams.
Because there are only four teams, they move around from park to park, so we actually weren’t watching the wonderfully named Taipei Brother Elephants, but the Tainan Lions and Kaohsiung Rhinos.
Really, I was just there for this guy:
Manny Ramirez. As much as we complained about his occasional antics, tantrums, and general appearance of laziness in the later years, I think Red Sox Nation can forgive “Manny being Manny” for his help with both our World Series wins in 2004 and 2007. So I went to this game and cheered obnoxiously loudly in English and Spanish for Manny and got stared at by everyone in the outfield.
So here are some differences between this game and all of the MLB games I’ve been to (maybe 90% of which have been at Fenway, so I might have a different perspective).
First of all, the outfield seats here were way lamer than the infield. I usually sit in the bleachers at Fenway because they’re affordable and it’s generally a good crowd of diehard fans. At the field in Taipei, not only can you not get to the infield from the outfield (you actually have to leave the park and go in only after the game ends), all of the concession stands and memorabilia store are only located in the infield. There is no one going around selling Fenway franks (or whatever), you have to come prepared.
In terms of fan base, though the people sitting in the outfield cheered, the infield looked about a million times more fun.
There were flags and horns and drums and chants and it was wicked loud. I also noticed they cheered for Manny in English which was cool. I kind of doubt he speaks a lot of Mandarin.
Before the game started, there were cheerleaders and mascots doing a sexy dance routine. Yes, even the mascots were body-rolling.
I noticed this in particular because in my experience, baseball is one of very few major sports in the U.S. that doesn’t throw in hot girls to make an already masculine event even more “manly.” Although, Chris claims the Nats’ ball-girls are attractive and get a decent amount of attention, so maybe we’re just too focused on our Sox in Boston.
Finally, Manny was apparently allowed to take a picture like this for his team portrait that came up when he was at bat:
The game was a good time, but I’m kind of glad it started raining heavily and we left before the 7th inning. I get really confused when I don’t hear “Sweet Caroline” at a game.