Major League Baseball opening game, Sydney

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 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.

2 Responses to “Major League Baseball opening game, Sydney”

  1. K`shandra says:

    I’d been wondering if you’d be able to get to the game. Glad to hear you were.

  2. Breen says:

    Good report – thanks!
    A lot of the finer points of the game get missed here too. Glad Oz got to see it.
    Why wouldn’t the crowd love foul balls? They get to keep those at a baseball game!

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