Monday, 23 April 2012

Getting to 2nd base with the Lotte Giants



At school Im constantly being told that my classes have been cancelled due to volleyball practise which obviously I dont have any complaints about, but the amount of wounds the sport inflicts upon the students makes their love for the sport seem slightly self destructive. The students are constantly rolling up their sleeves to show me these angry purple and blue bruises all the way up their forearms. The collection of bandages and pots is steadily increasing as the volleyball season goes on, and just to get them talking English I always ask whats happened, and the answer is always volleyball. So far theres been at least 5 sprained thumbs, Ive seen one broken toe, a broken arm and two legs in casts. I know its probably a little hypocritical coming from me with my choice of sport, but I do find it completely bizarre.

I think theres only one sport that the Koreans seem to like more than volleyball, and thats baseball.

After lots of invites to join in with the volleyball practises, I decided to avoid the obvious high risks of the sport and stick to baseball instead. Our local team is the Lotte Giants. Lotte is a massive conglomerate in Korea. It has a few humongous department stores across Busan alone, along with its own grocery line, financial services and fast food chain. Apparently, although the people from Busan are dedicated to their team, they are not overly fond of the corporation and think that more could be done in the ways of spending to help their team.

On Wednesday we finally got around to watching a game. It isnt the first time that weve tried though. Wed read about the pre-season matches and in our first few weeks here we decided to head over and catch one. We arrived about 6, only to be greeted by what seemed like Korea, post-zombie invasion. The streets were dead, there wasnt even a drunk business man propped up against a lamp post, or a lonely flyer dancing with the breeze, reminiscent of the days when it was tossed at an innocent bystander so unlovingly by the man on the moped. The floodlights werent even on.

We walked right upto the stadium and were told with the over exaggerated arm crossing gesture they love to do here that the baseball was already over. That gesture makes me feel like one of those contestants from Britain's Got Talent who's decided it would be a brilliant idea to incorporate wild goats and fire into their act. The Giants had failed to mention on their website that the matches started at 2pm pre season.

So the scene on Wednesday night at Sajik was completely different. Hundreds of people poured off the metro and like lemmings all marched their way to the stadium. Donned in Giants caps, jackets and shirts. Most were ladened with big bags full of beer and a spread that would even knock the sucked-a-sour-lemon expressions from Gregg Wallace and John Torodes faces. For those that hadnt come prepared, there was an array of street vendors selling the most bizarre concoction of food I had ever seen.

Forget the traditional pies, pasties and burgers that you would seen on a typical match day in the UK. Instead there was sushi, full roasted chickens and dried squid. All on sale for literally pittance.

We walked upto the stadium and easily bought tickets for just roughly 2.40 each off a lady who thought that to make the spots on her face more discreet it would be better to stick little plasters over them. Ingenious idea.

With lots of wafting our tickets in the arena workers faces and pointing, we finally managed to get to our bleachers. We wedged ourselves amongst business men with sushi on one side, a family with a meal in tupperware on the other, and a group of old men who turned up with a box of fried chicken.  I cant really say much about the game that ensued because to be honest, I didnt have a clue what was going on. BUT there was a great atmosphere, surrounded by people stuffing their faces and chanting. We evntually went and bought some Cass, the national beer, and snacks and joined in with the revelry.

Tasha enjoying a Lotteria burger// Batter //
The snacks of the people infront of us// Getting my beer jacket on

I loved seeing the cheerleaders that were a lot more conservative in comparison to even the Cheerios. Wearing high necked baseball shirts and shorts.

My favourite part of the whole game was in one of the breaks. Sixpence Non the Richer- Kiss Me started blaring out of the speakers, and the camera would zoom in on a couple in the crowd, whose face would then be blown up on the big screen, and would stay framed until they kissed. How cute. Especially for the two teen boys that the cameraman repeatedly kept focusing on, subjecting them to an awkward moment where they would peer at each other questioningly, but then seemed to shrug it off and locked lips in an embrace.

I had a really good night that cost me hardly anything, so Im really looking forward to going to support the Giants again on a warm Saturday afternoon, hopefully with someone who can explain the rules a little more.

How to get there:

-Catch the brown line to Sajik and use Exit 1.
-Take the second right and you should see the Giants' home and the mass of people swarming towards it.

Apparently the tickets of the last home game that falls on a Wednesday are always half price, which meant for bleacher seats this came to 4,000 won. We got there at about 6:30, when the game was due to start, there was alot of queuing for tickets but we didn't miss much of the action.