This weekend, I had occasion to stay at a rather nice hotel in St. Louis. You might know it as the home of the baseball Cardinals; you might not know that St. Louisans, and people for approximately 300 miles around, are true baseball fanatics. On this occasion, the boys were in town, and the hotel where I was staying was right on the riverfront, about 5 blocks from the stadium.
Now, I count myself as a Cardinals fan; I watch most games on TV when possible. But I have never been to a live game, nor am I ever likely to be; I dislike both noise and large crowds, and a stadium during a game is the last place I would enjoy. Which probably makes me just casual in the eyes of St. Louisans, not even worthy of the title of fan, really.
I did, however, have one person beat: Amir, my waiter at the hotel restaurant, who was interning for a year from Turkey. We were chatting about the sea of red t-shirts and jersey replicas in the lobby. I asked him if he liked baseball, or even knew anything about it.
Well, yes, it transpired, he did, and in fact, had even been to a game.
“What did you think?” I asked.
“It was very hot. The pitcher played very well for half the game, but then began hitting other players with the ball. Soon, the director came out and substituted someone else for him.”
“He began hitting people? Why do think that was?”
“He was very tired, I think.”
“Yes, it was very hot, and he was the only one doing anything.”
“So that made him tired?”
“Yes, and I can understand it. I was tired, too, and I was only watching!”