Baseball’s whopping 162 game regular-season schedule makes it the longest regular season of any professional sport. The bulk of the season falls during the summer where being outside at a ballpark is (almost) always a great time. For a girl who watches sports on a daily basis, baseball games are a religious experience. However, a study of single girls on Sparkology showed that not all women feel so strongly: Over 50% report that they don’t enjoy watching sports but get dragged to games because of a guy. Here’s a guide for those out there who might lack such an extreme passion for baseball but are excited about their upcoming trek to the stadium nonetheless.
- Don’t Wear Heels. Yes, this seems obvious and no, I’m not trying to insult your intelligence. I have seen all sorts of outfits at sporting events through the years that have left me scratching my head. As with everything in life, an appropriate outfit is always the sexiest and for baseball, low-key footwear is best. Another note about attire: Don’t worry about wearing team-affiliated clothing. Not everyone at Yankee Stadium is going to be wearing pinstripes so if you’re not the home team’s biggest fan, don’t worry about sporting their merchandise. Make sure to AVOID wearing the opposing team’s colors, however. No one likes to get heckled by drunk strangers.
- And leave the giant purse at home. I love a giant tote as much as the next girl, but sports stadiums are not the place for them. The ground will be sticky with beer and soda—not where you want to put down your nicest handbag. Additionally, many, if not all, stadiums have bag size limits. Security will check every bag that comes through the door and you will get the stink eye if you hold up the line when an officer has to go through your big bag. Stadiums also have policies on bringing in any outside food or drinks including your innocent bottle of water. Every stadium has different rules about this (I went to one once where my friend could take his bottle but not the plastic cap inside) but it’s better to be safe rather than sorry. And it’s best to not hold up the security line
- In baseball, you score runs, not points. Some other basic facts and terminology: There are 9 innings in a game. There are no ties and the game will go into extra innings indefinitely until a winner is declared. First, the away team bats at the “top” of an inning followed by the home team batting at the “bottom.” Each team gets 3 outs every inning. Three strikes and a batter is out, four balls and he gets to take 1st base. When a batter hits a foul ball, it counts as a strike unless he already has 2 strikes against him. Baseball is full of jargon but the most fun slang terms are reserved for the home run. Some common alternative names are “homer,” “bomb,” “going yard,” “four bagger,” and my personal favorite, “yahtzee.”
- The best time to get up and do things is during the 4th, 5th, or 6th inning. During the first three innings, a pitcher is just settling in and you get to see your team go through the entire batting line up; both important things for someone who cares about the game to see. Likewise, unless the game is a complete blowout, you don’t want to get up for food in the last few innings. This leaves the middle of the game to get up and take a look around the stadium, get some food, and perhaps purchase some team merchandise. For those of us who don’t want to miss any action, vendors walk through the stands with baseball staples such as hot dogs and beer. Some important notes: everything will be overpriced, the roaming vendors only take cash and all ballparks stop selling alcohol after the 7th inning so plan accordingly.
- Yes, games can be boring. Every sport will sometimes produce a lackluster game. For some people, the game of baseball itself is boring. For true fans however, games are anything but. Be prepared for a potential lull in the action but avoid mentioning the dreaded “B” word. If you do find yourself less than enthralled with what’s happening on the field, it might be a good time to get up for a bathroom break or a food run. If neither of these seem appealing, sit back and enjoy being outside in the summertime.
- Sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”. There are a lot of things going on at baseball besides the game itself. Each team has their own home-grown traditions. For example, I love belting out “Sweet Caroline” during the 8 th inning at my beloved Fenway Park. And then there’s this. But all across America, at every ballpark, half way through the 7th inning it is time to get up and shake out your legs during the “Seventh Inning Stretch.” This is when the organ fires up and it’s time to sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” No one is too old or too cool to sing along so don’t let yourself miss out on the fun. When The Wave hits your section however, that’s completely your call.
- Pitching match ups are extremely important. In most games, the starting pitcher will not be able throw enough pitches to complete the full game which is why baseball teams carry so many pitchers on their rosters. In general, a team wants to keep their starting pitcher in the game as long as possible. As long as he is pitching well, a manager will let his starter stay in the game. (Yes, there are many other factors influencing how long a starter stays in the game, but that would be another article on a completely different blog.) Once the starter leaves the game, however, all hell breaks loose. Managers will change relief pitchers every inning, every out, or even every batter. Rest assured, there is a reason to this time-consuming madness but it is an extremely important part of any game, especially a close one. With a narrow lead on the line, the team will send out their “closer” to win the game. You’ll know who the team closer is because he’ll have the best music coming out of the bullpen.
- Baseball is full of superstitions. Baseball players, like many athletes, are extremely superstitious. There are countless stories of odd pre-game rituals and in-game habits. Players purposefully avoid stepping on the foul line on their way to the field, have lucky gloves, and even wear gold thongs. Yes, it is time consuming when a batter steps out of the box to fix his gloves between every pitch. But these oddities are part of what makes baseball so fun to watch. For players and fans alike, it is superstition to NEVER talk about a no-hitter or perfect game in progress. If you are lucky enough to witness such an amazing baseball feat, please don’t say anything about it. Until after the game, that is!
- Ask questions. If there’s anything a sports fan likes more than watching a game, it’s proving to other people how much he/she knows about sports. Genuine fans want you to experience the game with them—feel the same highs from a great play and the same pain and frustration from a bad call or a dropped catch. If you don’t understand what just happened, ask who you’re with. The true brilliance of baseball is in the details so it is easy to miss things if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Again, it’s easier to get into the game and have fun when you know what’s going on.
Liz Allison was groomed to be obsessed with sports from an early age. She now lives in New York City and when she’s not watching the game or checking the score, she’s forcing her fellow ballroom dancers to listen to her talk about sports.
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