The one thing I regret not seeing in Japan was a baseball game. On coming home, I found a sudden touristy itch that that just needed to be scratched. I rounded up a few friends and headed up north.
The first thing I noticed about the game was the ticket prices. The cheap seat cost less than $ 5 and the REALLY nice seat went for around $10. But even then, on a brilliant Sunday evening....the stands were only 80% full.
Korea is not a big country. Think of it like New York. A quarter of the Korean population lives in Seoul. A quarter of the population lives in the other half dozen cities (Busan, etc...). So it should be no surprise that 3 of the 8 professional baseball teams find their home in Seoul. This will matter in a moment...just wait...
On arriving at the stadium, we noticed that their were 2 very distinct colors: white and red. Gone were the Yankee hats that seem to dominate that brows of all the Koreans. They were all wearing hats with G (for the Seoul Giants) or T (for the Seoul Twins). We stumbled across a crosstown rivalry game!!!
(See I told you it would matter!!!)
We walked up to the general admission seats behind home plate. (the general admission seats do not have assigned seating) Spanning across the infield seating was a giant colored divide....the home team (the LG Twins) were the home team and their fans we covered the right half of the stands in white. The visiting team (the Lotte Giants) covered the left half of the stands in red.
We tried to find 3 empty seats on the Giants sides...but we couldn't find any.
We tried to find seats on the Twins side and succeeded.
Please note that the visiting fans outnumbered the home team fans.....I shouldn't have to tell you who one this game...
In order to maintain our hydration levels I stopped off at the snack shack to grab a few beers...16 oz cans sold for less then $2.50. I should also point out that they sold CANS at a baseball game and were not afraid of some idiot throwing the cans around.
But really, we didn't leave our seats, as there was a roaming beer man with a KEG strapped to his back!!! And it gets BETTER!!!
The Korean believe in singing while their batter is up. So half the game one half of the stadium is bursting out into song...the bottom half of the inning...the other half of the stadium is on its feet singing.
They don't stop during the pitch. I've noticed in American games that the speakers go eerily quiet when the pitcher is about to deliver the ball. This probably not wanting to disturb the delicate egos of the multi-millionaire men that are paid to play a game for a living.
In Korea...it's all about the fans...they chant and sing the entire game....and are encouraged by their mascot.
Oh...and for the record....while I find the dancing abilities of Seattle's ground crew amusing...professional cheerleaders manage to do a better job of exciting the crowd...
I'm not sure what the final score was. I honestly stopped watching at the top of the first when our pitcher didn't manage to throw a strike for the first 6 batters. Then again....maybe that's why the game is more about the fans in Korea than it is about the game being played.