A couple of months ago, hungrytiger and isisofcool invited us to come join them at a Lowell Spinners game. This is an A-league team, a nice long ways from Major League Baseball (tm).
Basically, this is baseball as community outing, rather than baseball as gladiatorial combat. Yeah, the Spinners are in the basement, but no one showed much sign of caring. (Except the ten-year-olds from the Tewksbury All-Stars in the next section.) The ballpark was full anyway, of people having a nice summer evening out. The food didn't suck as badly as I expected (they even had halfway drinkable, if ordinary, ale), and the schtick was omnipresent.
Every inning break had something happening. It might be the race between the eight-year-old kid and the team mascot around the bases. It might be some poor woman winning a dinner out through karaoke. It might be a couple of guys in sumo suits knocking each other over -- or the same two in bizarre plastic Knight suits, knocking each others' fake heads off. It wasn't exactly high culture, but it was fun, and far more of a sincere community experience than I'm used to from sports.
(It *was* pretty commercialized, admittedly -- everything was sponsored. But even that was different: this wasn't being sponsored by Coca-Cola and Sears, but by Joe's Diner. When they brought out the brushes at mid-game to smooth out the dirt, that was sponsored by the local dental practice. I'm much more willing to forgive hometown advertising.)
As hungrytiger pointed out, the game itself is almost an afterthought. Apparently to keep people interested, they passed out Baseball Bingo cards. There's a complex formula listed on the back, with rules like, "If the home team Shortstop gets walked, that's I-23". People who got Bingo early on got door prizes. I actually did get Bingo fairly late in the game, but wasn't all that deeply in need of door prizes even if I'd won one, so didn't bother to figure out if they had more of them.
Only mistake of the evening was having soft ice cream at the ballpark; the mistake being realized when I got home and saw the cherry pie sitting there. (ladysprite came over yesterday, and we had a sort of mini-cooks'-guild meeting -- I showed her around a couple of cookbooks, and we made a pie from one.) Shopping for tomorrow: good vanilla ice cream. Mmm...
Anyway, a much-needed distraction, neither difficult nor intellectual. msmemory and I agreed that, if it was more convenient, we might seek this out more often. As it is, I suspect we'll get down to a Spinners game once a year or so, to remind us of what baseball is supposed to be like.
(Oh, yeah -- the Spinners lost. But the Sox won, which was actually the only score we were paying much attention to...)