Take Me Out to the Ball Game

baseballpray

I went to my first Japanese baseball game this weekend.  It was wild.  I don’t know if words are enough to describe it.  First off, there were no hotdogs.  Instead, they served takoyaki (octopus and miscellaneous ingredients formed into balls).  There was also endless noise.  When the Softbank Hawks (woo!!) were up to bat, nearly 7/8th of the stadium were cheering, chanting, hitting plastic baseball bats together to the beat that a marching band was giving.  When the Cebu Lions were up to bat, a group of maybe 100 people two sections away from me stood up and did the same, all with their own marching band as well.  My head hurt by the end of the 12 innings…it never stopped once. 

Have you ever been one of the oddballs rooting for “the other team”?  Whether it was at the actual event, or just with a small group of friends in someone’s basement?  I have.  I rather enjoy it though.  For some reason I love antagonizing people, especially when it comes to sports.  I don’t care much for any sport besides baseball and tennis, and tennis is the only sport that I really root for a specific person only.  All the other sports, I really don’t care.  But my mom and her family are from Pittsburgh but I have lived in Ohio for most of my life.  Not just Ohio, but near Cincinnati…Bengal country.  Naturally, I root for the Steelers every chance I get (again, I really don’t care…but it’s fun to bug my friends with it).  I have a t-shirt, my mom has a Terrible Towel…we rock it out when the Steelers play the Bengals…and many can’t stand it!  I’m often the only one in the room with black and gold, and the rest are striped orange and black.

My friend and I were talking about this phenomenon and how you could easily become intimidated by the crowd around you rooting for the other team.  Especially with all the noise that is made at Japanese baseball games, it was easy to find myself tapping my foot to the beat of the opposing marching band and chant.  She said that it brought to mind what it is like to be a Christian in the world.  Now, in America, and some other countries, it’s really easy to get settled with a group of other believers, but here in Japan, there aren’t as many.  Sometimes it’s just a small group sticking it out among a huge crowd of people who are Buddhist, or Shinto, or atheists.

Often we lose track of our own chanting and marching band and begin tapping our feet to the “other team”‘s melodies.  We get distracted from watching the game and start looking at the people around us.  What are they going to think of me?  What will they do if I really put everything I can into supporting my team?  I have a friend who was at a Bengals/Steelers game when he was a kid.  Some Steelers (not a bright part for my guys) fans dumped a cup of pop…or maybe it was beer…down his back.  He was traumatized by it and really can’t stand the Steelers now.  I don’t blame him.  I still root for them, but back to my point.  There’s always a chance that we will be rejected for who we support.  There’s a chance that we will be distracted and stop rooting for our team. 

But, we have something that the other guys don’t.  We know the Manager!  And we have a special heads up in knowing that our team is going to win!  Why should we ever back down from being who we are?! 

Have you become distracted and started cheering with the world instead?  What distracted you?  Are you rooting for the home team again?  If not, why?  What’s holding you back?

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