It's that time of year again; April. Time to break out the lawnmower, dust off the barbecue grill, put away the winter coat, and most importantly, it's time to PLAY BALL! And nothing knocks off the winter-rust like that first meeting between hated rivals.
It just occured to me that you probably think I'm writing about this weekend's series in Fenway Park. If so, then you clearly came to the wrong blog.
No, this post (and accompanying video) is about a lesser-known rivalry, one that may not have the history of the Yanks-Sox, nor its made-for-television over-commercialization, but it has the spirit, the fierce competition, and at the risk of drawing some hate mail, I'll say that it's got a stadium full of fans that were more creative, energetic, and passionate than any I've ever seen at any MLB game. Not Yanks-Sox, not Cubs-Cards, not Dodgers-Giants. And especially not the fans down at Knott's Berry Farm, aka Safeco Field.
I'm talking about Seoul's cross-town rivalry between the LG Twins and Doosan Bears. Kristin and I woke up our first morning in Seoul and, on a whim, I decided to check to see if there was a game playing at Jamsil Stadium that night. There was, and it just so happened to be the hottest ticket in town. It was only the third game of the season and the two teams that normally share that stadium were squaring off against one another. Imagine if the Cubs and White Sox both called Wrigley Field home... that's what we were heading to.
We got to the stadium in time to get one of the first-come-first-served outfield seats for 6000 won apiece ($4.80 each) and, after picking up a couple of beers ($1.80 each for cups of Hite, a beer that all-too closely resembles Natural Light, a brew that should be outlawed for those actually above the legal drinking age) and a pair of the ubiquitous inflatable thunder-sticks. We sided with the home team and took our seats in right field. The first base side of the stadium and right field was filled with fans of the LG Twins, nearly all of whom either had a flag or a pair of red thunder-sticks. The third-base side of the stadium was home to supporters of the Doosan Bears.
From the first pitch to the final out, the noise and fan involvement was unlike anything I had ever seen. The only sporting event I can compare it to was the NFC Championship game we attended the year the Seahawks went to the Super Bowl. The fans had songs for each and every player, they were as synchronized as a team of Olympic swimmers, and they never, ever, took their eyes off the field. The fans of the team at-bat would sing and stomp and bang their thunder-sticks during each and every at-bat. The fans of the team in the field would try to out-noise them once the pitcher had two strikes on the batter.
The game had several home runs, some really good defense, and a pretty costly error. The video starts out a little slow in the first inning then really picks up after the 3:00 mark.