May 12, 2006

Take me out to the ballgame...

When I'm stressed, I turn to the kitchen for refuge.

I hate exercise.

I love to read.

I'm happiest surrounded by good friends and great food.

And baseball may be America's pastime, but for me it is really ALL about the hotdogs.

I'm my father's daughter.

Like many American families, the summers of my youth included a handful of baseball games. But while my mother and my brother dressed head-to-toe in A's memorabilia and kept careful-if-odd records they called "box scores," Mo and I wandered off in search of the quintessential Polish dog.

I carried this trend to college, where much to my mother's dismay I attended a tailgate party for every single home game, but never managed to set foot inside Autzen Stadium. Hey, a girl's got priorities.

In more recent summers, John and I have attended the occasional San Jose Giants' games. No, not *those* Giants, the other ones. And true to my heritage, I've eaten my way through the sandwich offerings from Turkey Mike's Baseball & Barbeque pit on the third base line. Quarter-pound hamburgers with all the fixings. Hot links to bring tears to your eyes. Jumbo jumbo hot dogs. And a Polish that'd make Mo proud.

But a surprising thing's happened over the course of my adult relationship with America's favorite pastime. I'm enjoying the experience for more than just the food.

There's the minor league antics. The 'lucky number' promotion, where the winner claims a Rotten Robbie gas card. The audience participation rendition of Y-M-C-A. And the "smash for cash" contest between innings: three random fans choose a player counterpart. An old truck parks adjacent to first base. Each player gets three attempts to smash out a headlight. When successful, their fan-teammate wins a cash prize. Apparently harder than it sounds -- in half a dozen games, no one's won that one.

There's the fact that 2005 was a winning season for our hometown heroes -- they walked away the California League champions. And they're #1 in the northern division again this year. A little research reveals that since 1988 (which was their first year in the California League) the San Jose Giants have won more games than any other team in the league. In that time, 20% of their roster has moved on to success in the major leagues. Eleven former Giants have appeared on World Series rosters.

What? Those sound like statistics? Well what can I say... perhaps I'm a bit of my mother's daughter too...

Now excuse me while I go find the churro guy...