play ball … in sundbyberg, sweden?!?

I have been unreasonably excited the past week by the prospect of watching the Korean “B” baseball team play the Netherlands Antilles (includes islands like Curaçao), walking around the house tossing a baseball my wife found at a flea market, breaking in the new Giants cap my father gave me, and trying on my toddler’s toddler baseball glove and working it with a nerf ball.

For the Baseball World Cup has come to Sweden for four days of early group play, and the national baseball stadium, Örvallen, is walking distance from our apartment.  They are playing the tournament all over Europe.  This used to be the world championship for baseball, but now there is the World Baseball Classic in the spring with all the big pro stars.  This is more traditionally an amateur or minor league affair, as it takes place during the Major League season in the US.

Hence, the Cubans usually win.

Regardless, it is world-class baseball, and I just returned from watching Canada put a beat down on Sweden, 19-1, called off after five innings.  This afternoon, the Netherlands Antilles pulled off a shocking upset of a soft looking Korean team.  The Antilles players looked like the championship team in your local fast pitch softball league – big guys who could not run, or small guys who could not hit, but they showed a lot more spirit than the lethargic Koreans.  The Antilles also had about 10 fans in our bleacher section who were louder than everyone else in the half-filled stadium put together.

It was not a day of good baseball, but it was a very good day.  The baby and the toddler looked good in Giants’ hats.  The sun was out in the afternoon, inspiring my wife to liken it to Arizona during spring training.  NK liked the crowd, the trees past the scoreboard, the hot dog, the cover band after the night game (they even had pyrotechnics!) and the most expensive and shabbiest carousel around.  Oh, and she even watched the game!  There was chatter all around, which is not something to take granted in Sweden, where most sports are observed with silent concentration, broken only by rhythmic clapping (do not trying chatting with a Swede at, say, a hockey game).

I chewed sunflower seeds, though am now too Swedish to just let the shells fall on the ground.

And I was at a baseball game, and that is long overdue, and always good.


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