The only San Francisco Giants fan in Dagenham

Published by Rick on Tagged Uncategorized


                        Another April, and its first Monday brings a full slate of Major League Baseball games, though one official game was played last night between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. For the next six months, I’ll have something sport-wise to get excited about, for even after living in England for close to seven years, I still deeply miss being able to either go to an actual game in San Francisco or LA, or to watch one on TV, or at least listen to one on the radio.

                   Baseball is not an easy topic for discussion around here, as it’s not a sport the Brits invented, and many will claim baseball is a rip-off of rounders and cricket. Problem is, I don’t understand, therefore don’t follow, either of those sports, but then explaining baseball to Brits is not easy either. In 2004, I took my future ex-wife and her son to a Giants game in San Francisco, and what made it easier for them to understand was that the Giants hit lots of home runs in that game and won 11-0. It also helped that the fans sitting near us heard the English accents, and after the small talk (“Oh, wow, you’re from England? Coool!”), some offered to help explain what was going on, making me able to just enjoy the surroundings and occasionally the game.

                      To explain baseball is difficult to an outsider. It’s just so endemic to the American experience that I’m sure the rules were never officially explained to me, either, you just learn through participation. I like baseball because it’s one of two sports (the other is bowling) that I can actually play without being an embarrassment. I was never blessed with the most athletic of bodies or abilities, but since baseball can tap the well of so many individual skills, it’s possible to find a strength somewhere. I was skinny, so I could run relatively fast, meaning that so as long as I could hit the ball (I didn’t strike out much either), I stood a pretty good chance of getting to a base safely.

                      Being a baseball fan here is difficult, as the only people I’ve been able to talk about it with seem to be other comics who are either from North America or have at least been there. As far as I know, the only sport that matters out here in Dagenham is football (soccer), and though I have not become a full-on fan, I at least root for West Ham, which is almost as frustrating as being a Giants fan in America. While the Giants haven’t won the World Series since 1954, when they were still in New York, they have most of the time fielded a competitive team over the 120+ years they’ve been around. West Ham has competed on occasion in the last 50 years, but no way are they any threat to the higher profile London teams, simply because they just don’t have the money of a Chelsea, Man United, or Arsenal. So here I am rooting for the underdog again, but it was thrust upon me by the ex, who was a native Essex Girl, and lifelong fan.

                    It’s hard to get behind a team that is continually on the edge of being demoted (or relegated as they say here) to a lesser league, but that’s one idea I like. If a top level team truly sucks, they should trade places with one of the teams in the minor leagues until they can compete at the major level. Baseball is probably the only American pro sport does that, since each franchise has a full minor league system, but they only send down individual players who aren’t doing well. If they had it in pro basketball, the Golden State Warriors and LA Clippers would be trading places every year unless a bad team like this year’s New Jersey Nets emerges.  

                 Channel Five in UK used to broadcast one or two baseball games a week, receiving a live feed from ESPN, but since they were live, and as much as an 8-hour time difference, they weren’t broadcast until 1:00 AM, late even for a diehard fan and late-nighter like myself. They didn’t show them last year, don’t know if they’re going to this year either, so if I need a fix, my only option is paying for Sky cable, where they carry ESPN. I doubt that’s going to happen. No, I’ll just have to be content to catch a game or two when I’m in the US in May and September, maybe even actually attend one. I’ll also have to accept that while I’m here in lovely Dagenham, I’m in a big minority, as I’ve only run into one other American here, so it’s a safe bet that while I may not be the only American in this town, there’s a chance that I’m the only baseball fan, and even more likely the only San Francisco Giants fan. Ah, if that were the ONLY difference between me and the rest of Dagenham’s people!  GO GIANTS! 

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