Saturday, August 21, 2010

Detroit: Visiting the Tigers

Once you've tried the one and only feather bowling, Detroit also offers less niche-y sports entertainment. Like baseball.
To the uninitiated European, this seems equally exotic (if more familiar from Hollywood and other pop culture references) - so you are more acquainted with the general concept, but once you find yourself at a live baseball game, you may still be surprised.
For the Germans, the overall purpose of the game may remind you a little of elementary school sports classes involving "Brennball" ('burn ball') - just with a bat, grown-ups, and bigger stadiums. And more complicated rules. And less noise.

If most live sports events you've seen so far were soccer-related, then the atmosphere at a large baseball match seems very strange: It is awfully quiet. In fact, there is a high risk that you will miss that the game has already started - but if you worry  that this might make you look like an impolite foreigner who doesn't appreciate this American sport sufficiently, fear not. I got the impression, observing my surroundings, that a large part of the spectators wasn't all that involved either. No chants, no shouting, no vicious threats to the referee. Silence, or private conversation, and a big focus on purchasing and consuming fast food.
Also, no insults aimed at players who don't move around enough, because frankly - baseball doesn't exactly seem a very active sport. I guess that may be one of the reason why it's so easy to get distracted: The field is large, but most players hardly move - usually, just one or two at a time, in the distance. (The others must get quite cold, just waiting for things to happen.) And if then, you fail to grasp the finer points of the game (you may have to grow up with it - I couldn't really follow all the ways of being 'out' in just one evening), it can get quite confusing. At a very leisurely pace.
However! I may not have understood exactly why, but the Detroit Tigers won in the end, and it was followed by an immense 10 minute fireworks show.
I just wouldn't recommend going to see a live game without friendly company (who know the rules). Added bonus: I can now say that I've been in downtown Detroit (and lived to tell the tale).

Other notable events:
It appears to be an acceptable Midwestern form of greeting a random foreigner in a baseball stadium with "Right. You're from Germany. Are you trying to stay here or are you gonna go back?" (I did not say the obvious - "Gee, of course I go back! You see, our car industry is still doing very well!" - but praised my hosts while still expressing excitement to return to home sweet home in a week. Equally true, more polite. Slightly less satisfying.)

Also: Downtown Detroit has a large number of Greek restaurants, and I am still trying to recall why I believe I remember that from somewhere - from Jeffrey Eugenides' 'Middlesex', maybe? We had lovely Greek food at Pegasus (I really should have taken a picture of their neon sign!). Special recommendation: Grilled halloumi cheese that the waiter sets on fire at your table, exclaiming "Opa!" in the process. It appears that they are required to express their Greek joy in that way for this dish, and it's a very popular starter. So you will hear a more or less excited "Opa!" every few seconds. Hehe. Fun times!

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