Archive for the ‘Sport’ Category

Japan/USA diary, day 12

Friday, 6 November, 2015

Friday, 12 June, 2015. 24:00

We have had a full day and evening, having just got back from the Boston Red Sox vs Toronto Blue Jays game at Fenway Park.

The day began getting up in a slightly more leisurely manner, not having to get to the conference venue early for breakfast. Instead, M. and I left the hotel together about 07:30 to get some bagels for breakfast Bruegger’s near Coolidge Corner, a short walk away. M. got a whole wheat bagel with a scraping of cream cheese, while I got a pumpernickel bagel with the smoked salmon cream cheese. We ate these at a table inside the shop, then left to get a coffee for M. at the Starbucks nearby on Harvard Street. While at Starbucks I used the WiFi to check messages and found Elena confirming they could make the meeting at 09:00 as planned.

We caught the train to Park St station and exited at the corner of Park and Tremont Streets, on the corner of Boston Common. We were a few minutes early, so wandered a short distance to have a look at the Common before moving back and spotting Elena and her daughter just arriving. The girl hopped out of her stroller and remained on her own feet for the entire day, leaving Elena to lug the stroller around, though it provided a useful platform for bags of stuff. She got a coffee in a nearby Dunkin’ Donuts, as well as some jam donuts for the girl.

We decided to go to the Museum of Science, as I wanted something that wouldn’t bore the girl, and M. and I were both keen on science museums. It was maybe a twenty minute walk away, but Elena didn’t know the directions from where we were, so I navigated using the map on my phone. It took us a bit longer because of dealing with distractions and walking speed of the girl, but we eventually arrived a bit before 10:00.

Cliff, the Triceratops
Cliff, the Triceratops.

Read more: Fun in the Museum of Science, dessert before dinner, and Red Sox baseball game at Fenway Park!

Ranking: Ball sports

Wednesday, 18 June, 2014

(Selected sports)

By increasing ball size: squash, golf, snooker, tennis, cricket, hockey, baseball, softball, lawn bowls, American football (shortest dimension), Australian rules football (shortest dimension), rugby league and rugby union (shortest dimension), volleyball, bowling, football (soccer), basketball.

By increasing number of pro games I have watched live at the venue: basketball (1), baseball (2), cricket (dozens), rugby league (approx. 100). Others zero.

By increasing number of pro games I have watched live on TV: hockey (1 or 2), basketball (a few), football (soccer) (a dozen or so), rugby union (a dozen or so), lawn bowls (approx. 20), American football (tens), baseball (dozens), snooker (scores), rugby league (approx. 100), cricket (hundreds). Others zero.

By increasing number of games I have played: volleyball (a few), softball (a dozen or so), squash (tens), tennis (dozens), snooker (scores).

I’ve played a bunch of informal touch rugby and lots of informal cricket, which were not organised games with formalised score-keeping.

Major League Baseball opening game, Sydney

Sunday, 23 March, 2014

Opening DayI attended the 2014 Major League Baseball season opening game at the Sydney Cricket Ground last night, and it was a fantastic experience. To see not just a major league baseball game, but the opening game of the 2014 season, and on the special occasion of the game being played at such an historic venue as the Sydney Cricket Ground, was really awe-inspiring.

The weather here in Sydney has been warm, humid, and unsettled the past couple of weeks, with afternoon and evening thunderstorms flitting about the city. Last night was no exception, and I feared there might be a rain interruption. As it turned out, there was a light sprinkle from the edge of a passing storm about an hour before game time, but after that it was fine. That did cause the start of the game to be delayed by 45 minutes, which was disappointing mainly for the fact that the gorgeous sunset sky over the picturesque cricket ground had gone by the time the players appeared on the field.

I had expected the sell-out crowd to be largely travelling Americans, figuring not many people in Sydney would be interested enough in baseball to fork out the expensive ticket prices. But surveying the crowd near my seat in the Brewongle Stand, about 80% of them appeared to be locals, with only a smattering of obvious American visitors.

Before the game were the national anthems of both the USA (sung by Australian household name, US-born ex-pat Marcia Hines) and Australia. It was interesting that for the Star Spangled Banner, the stadium was pin-drop silent – I heard one guy behind me quietly singing along with the words – but for Advance Australia Fair there were 30,000+ people belting out all the words at the top of their lungs.

Then the game was on, and as I find with all sports events, it’s much more gripping and fun being there than watching on TV. I had to explain a lot of the rules to my wife, as she didn’t even know the basics, but she got into it quickly. As a San Francisco Giants fan, I had to cheer for the Arizona Diamondbacks, as having the L.A. Dodgers win would be unconscionable. Alas the Dodgers took an early lead and never really looked back, but there were some fine moments of sporting play and athleticism to admire in the game. My highlight was probably the leaping catch by Martin Prado to snatch a fast line drive by Andre Ethier out of the air.

I expected the crowd overall to be a bit more vocal, but they were a bit subdued compared to a cricket match. I think part of it must have been that a lot of local people had come for the occasion and weren’t really baseball aficionados. I noticed in a couple of the post-game stories on mlb.com that a few of the players/coaches had commented on the crowd apparently “loving foul balls” – people got excited when a ball went into the crowd and they got to see if someone would catch it. I think some of the crowd missed some of the finer points of what was actually crucial to the game.

Nevertheless, it was a great night and an unrepeatably fantastic experience. I’m very glad I went.

Baseball in Sydney!

Saturday, 15 June, 2013

So, on 22 March next year I will be attending my second ever Major League Baseball game. The 2014 season opener, Dodgers versus Diamondbacks, in my hometown, Sydney!

I just bought tickets – wow, expensive! I got cheap seats, rather than the premium seats going for $499(!).

I’m really excited about this. I love sport, and even through the very limited exposure we get here of US sports, I enjoy both baseball and American football. (Never managed to follow an ice hockey game though – the puck moves too darn fast.)

I am, however, frequently perplexed and frustrated that none of my closest friends like sport. Yes, they’re all sciency/science-fictiony/fantasy geeks. I just don’t get why none of them like sport at all. You can be a science geek and a sport geek – there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that! But when I see my friends and say, “Did you see that awesome game last night?!” the response is never “Yeah! Wasn’t it fantastic! I can’t believe that play that Player X made!” It’s always, “Huh? Who was playing?”

I really, really hate being the only sport nut in my inner circle of friends.

Sydney Baseball Ground?

Thursday, 25 October, 2012

So, apparently the New South Wales Government tourism department is negotiating with Major League Baseball to host the 2014 MLB season opening games of the LA Dodgers here in Sydney. Cool! Well, just a shame it’s the Dodgers and the not the Giants. But hey. My wife’s been keen to go to a big baseball game with me for years, but we didn’t get the chance when we visited the US.

I hope this plan works out. And at the Sydney Cricket Ground too. I saw Darren Gough’s Ashes hat trick there. I saw Fanie de Villiers’ amazing ten-wicket performance to win the 1994 bushfire Test match for South Africa against all odds. I saw Brian Lara’s 277 run innings. Hopefully in 2014 I can see whatever the other team is beat the Dodgers. :-)

Chappelli

Saturday, 15 September, 2012

Watching a documentary last night on cricket in the 1970s. It had an interview with Ian Chappell, Australian cricket team captain from 1971-1975. He also played competitive baseball. In part of the interview he said (quoting from memory as best I can):

Baseball’s not like cricket. When you play baseball, there’s no crowd, nobody making any noise. Often it’s just the two teams, and that’s it. So you have to make the noise yourself. You’d sit in the dugout waiting for your turn to bat, yelling stuff at the players on the field because there was no crowd to do it for you.

Australia to change top level domain name

Thursday, 2 August, 2012

BREAKING NEWS: Australia to change its top level domain name from .au to .ag, after winning substantially more silver than gold medals at London Olympics.

Cricket commentary du jour

Wednesday, 4 January, 2012

From today’s radio commentary of the Second Test, Australia v India, from the Sydney Cricket Ground. Guest commentators Harsha Bhogle (from India) and Danny Morrison (from New Zealand, specifically Wellington) were sharing the microphone.

Danny: And back home everyone talks about my hobbit feet.
Harsha: Hobbit feet? That’s a curious expression. What do you mean?
Danny: You know, hobbit feet. Big and hairy.
Harsha: The only hobbit I know is this book I studied back when I was in school… Bilbo Baggins, was that him?
Danny: Yeah, that’s the one.
Harsha: And there were dwarves… Ori, Dori, Nori… Oin, Gloin… and some others I can’t remember.
Danny: Yeah yeah, that’s it!
Harsha: So… hobbit feet??
Danny: Feet like a hobbit. All big and hairy.
Harsha: I remember that book because we had to study it for months.
Danny: They’re making the film of it. In Wellington.
Harsha: Really?! I must keep an eye out for that.

Now that’s a game

Tuesday, 5 October, 2010

I love October.

One reason is the Major League Baseball season is coming to a climax. I don’t get to see as many games as I’d like to, but I did get to watch one of the last Giants games for the season, and look forward to following them in the playoffs.

And here, the weather is warming up, the days are getting longer, and the cold, grey days of football give way to the crack of leather on willow. The domestic cricket season begins in October, and this year we have the bonus of Australia touring India before the home international season begins. India currently boast a batting line-up that would make any team quiver in their boots. Gambhir. Sehwag. Dravid. Tendulkar. Laxman. Dhoni.

And, well, the opening Test match of the series was a demonstration of just how good a game of cricket can be. It swung through many moods, with Australia in trouble, then recovering, then India dominating until they collapsed suddenly on the third day, ending up with a first innings deficit of 22 runs. Hardly a hair between these two teams. After three days of intense competition, there was basically nothing separating them. And we feared the game might meander to a dull draw.

But the fourth day saw action aplenty, with India surging into a strong position, but then falling away again when they began chasing the victory target. And then there was today. How can you give justice in words to a game which builds slowly in tension over five days, until on the last day you have a surging crowd of spectators in the stadium, accompanied by hundreds of millions of people glued to TVs and radios and the Internet, maintained hanging on the edge of their seats for over three hours?

This is a game where Ishant Sharma, India’s second-worst batsman, stayed out there for over an hour, making his career best score, and supporting VVS Laxman to approach an impossible winning goal still 70-odd runs away, with Australia breathing down their necks. And then Sharma got a bad umpiring decision and was ruled out, exposing the inexperienced and very poor batsman Pragyan Ojha as the last man in. Only he stood between Australia and victory. And for the last 20 minutes, as India edged excruciatingly closer to the target, one run at a time, all Australia needed was to get one man out. Laxman was batting with a runner, and requiring treatment on his sore back during the breaks in play, yet refused to give in.

And in the end India prevailed in a miracle victory, by the narrowest of possible margins, and a billion Indians went wild. Cricket can be a bit dull at times, but games like this are why it shows itself time and again to be such a marvellous sport.