There aren’t many things that proclaim the coming of summer in quite the same way as attending a major league baseball game. Sure, you still have your first watermelon of the season, Memorial Day and the blessed re-appearance of sun dresses, but after a long, cold, slushy, grey winter, nothing seems more joyous than heading to your first game of the season. I would even be willing to bet that in places where it’s still un-godly cold outside, that people still flock to their respective stadiums, swill beer, throw back some hot dogs and bask in the meager sunlight.
There is one thing about baseball games, however, that I just don’t understand: What is it about a baseball game that convinces people that shoveling a full pound of garlic french fries into their mouth while fighting with a small child over a foul ball is acceptable behavior? Perhaps everyone’s just cranky after being cooped-up all winter. Maybe it’s the inordinate amount of $8.00 beer consumed. Whatever the reason, professional baseball games invite some of the most questionable behavior of any other public event. And also some of the best opportunities for people-watching.
I went to my first game of the season last Friday. I was so excited I didn’t eat lunch in anticipation of my first ball-park hot dog, and was ready to happily fork over the requisite $8.00 for a cold beer. I found my section, immediately located the nearest hot dog vendor and got in line. And then 3 overweight middle-aged men stepped unceremoniously in front of me without an ounce of hesitation. Happy Friday to me, indeed.
By the time I finally got my pork and beef by-product snack back to my seat, my mood had been kicked down a couple notches and I had formulated a list of rules that should be adhered to at all costs when attending a baseball game. Unless you’re absolutely determined to make a belligerent fool of yourself in front of 20,000 people.
1) Dress appropriately. Please. Yes, I realize that the days when everyone took pride in their appearance are what may now be referred to as “days of yore,” and I’m not suggesting that you wear white leather kid gloves and stockings to the ball game. What I am suggesting is that you don’t wear jeans that reveal your entire rear-end and disclose the color of your panties through the “trendy” slash in the butt pocket.
Also, sandals with socks are still not cool, and anything that reveals your stomach is super unattractive. Especially when you just dripped nacho cheese on it.
2) Practice moderation. I will be the first to admit my undying love for french fries, hot dogs, nachos and the ice cream that comes in a mini baseball helmet. Just not all at once. This is not the movie theatre where you can dump an entire box of Raisinettes in your pie-hole while cloaked in darkness. Baseball games occur in public, so perhaps this isn’t the time to suck sauerkraut off your fingers while slopping a half-gallon of Coke (it’s diet) down the front of your bedazzled shirt.
3) Talking sh*t. Notice I didn’t say talking trash. There’s a big difference, and some well-timed heckling kicks-up the competitive spirit of the game. It’s when people cross over into profanity-laced diatribes directed at their neighbor, opposing fans three-rows up and the hot dog vendor that things get uncomfortable.
Side note: baseball games attract children in droves. Unless you want to start a fight with a Momma Bear over how your gratuitous use of the f-word is ruining Little Jimmy’s 8th birthday party, I suggest you keep it to yourself.
4) While we’re on the subject of children, watch them. Not other people’s, that’s creepy, but if you’re in the company of a little booger miner, keep your eye on him. We all love propping our feet up on the back of the unoccupied chair in front of us, but however adorable your child is, I don’t really want his urine-soaked OshKosh shoes in my hair. Yes, this has happened to me.
5) Finally, enjoy yourself. You’re outside, eating stadium food and soaking up a little Americana. If you’re not into beer and brats, there’s also cute baseball players in tight pants.