Saturday, October 25, 2008

Atomic Fever - by Guest Blogger Owen

Please join us in giving a warm Me and You and Ellie welcome to this weekend's guest blogger, New London Connecticut's very own Owen, newspaper reporter, bartender and Red Sox fan extraordinaire.
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People always look a bit perplexed when the answer to their question isn’t the beer, although that was fun.

Or the fraulines.

Or the assortment of meats and cheeses (mostly meat).

Or the schnapps that was absolutely the worst thing I have ever drunk in my life. I’ve never actually tasted gasoline, but I imagine that’s what it tastes like.

Or just the experience of being one of 15,000 people under the same tent at the actual celebration of Oktoberfest, in the great city of München.

No, the best part of a recent trip to Germany with some of my best friends in the entire world was the German baseball game we went to.

It all started when we were stumbling around the town we were staying in – Garching – on very little sleep looking for some döner kebabs.

On a bulletin board near the bus stop was a flyer for a playoff game between the hometown Garching Atomics and the visiting Augsberg Gators. Our tickets were bought.

We had to wait nearly a week to see the game, and during that time, we asked the good people of football-mad Germany about the Atomics and baseball in general and got nothing more than some chuckles. They don’t understand.

On the day of the game, we – Matty the Saint and Brenda, Sleepy and Alison, myself, Yo, Gary and Tim Ho – walked from the hotel, through Garching, under the Autobahn and to the Atomic Dome (not actual name). Brenda and Alison didn’t stay long and I don’t blame them. It was cold and windy as hell. The rest of us were determined to stay for however long it took to root our Atomics to playoff victory.

We watched them take batting practice and do infield/outfield drills for a while and noticed there was no fence in the outfield. Apparently, the Atomics play on the honor system.

The game started and the Atomics’ starter (No. 41 in your program, which there were none of) gave up seven runs in 1/3 of an inning.

Soon after, one of the Atomics came behind home plate and asked if we’d enjoy some beers. Being in Germany, we weren’t going to deny such a request, so the Gators’ early lead became a bit dulled in our minds.

The Atomics slowly chipped into the lead, cutting it to two runs in the middle innings, but one thing was becoming more and more obvious: These guys stunk, which I think made us root even harder for them.

The teams weren’t exactly sure how to handle six increasingly drunken Americans rooting for the Atomics while heckling the Gators and the Gator-loving umpires, but we all saw some things we’ll never see on a baseball field in America.
The catcher (No. 23, more on him shortly) ran down a baserunner between first and second, which I’ve never seen. Also, whenever a batter reached first, a steal of second base was inevitable: catchers could not reach second base on a throw with any sort of regularity. This phenomenon led to a ton of stolen bases. It certainly bogged down the game a bit, but allowed us more time to drink more Dunkel. Yum, Dunkel.

We also saw a near brawl when the Gators brought in Pepe (not his real name) to pitch and he promptly hit No. 52, Garching’s beloved player-coach, Uwe.
Uwe spun around, threw the bat in the direction of Ausberg’s dugout and glared towards Pepe, who didn’t stand much taller than 5-feet. Behind home plate, the six drunken Americans were ready to charge the field and throw down, Garching-style, but umpires intervened and cooler heads prevailed.

The Atomics brought in No. 99 to pitch, and he was much better than anyone else they had, but the early deficit was too much to overcome.
So, we went to a Greek restaurant and had one of the best meals of the trip, then went into Munich, drank several more liters, drunkenly sang German songs and Matty told everyone how much he loved all of us.

On our last night in town, we were in the U-Bahn stop in Garching, going up the escalator when Sleepy turned back to the rest of us, pointed at a guy walking up the steps and said, “That’s 23.” So we started saying his number over and over and, sure enough, it was none other than No. 23, the catcher who chased down and tagged out a runner in between first and second in one of the greatest sports moments in the history of German baseball.

We stopped him and talked for a few minutes and asked him about some strategy, like why in the world they started No. 41. (Apparently No. 99 said his arm was sore, which is a weak excuse for a playoff game. I think he might secretly be a Gator lover.)

No. 23 in your program, No. 1 in our hearts,
Mr. Xaver [not Xavier] Zimmerman:
Sleepy, Gary, #23, Owen, Matty

There’s always next year, Atomics.


Unknown said...

Like I needed yet another reason to be excited to go to Germany!! Beer AND baseball? I am totally blissing out right now.

Me, You, or Ellie said...

Blogger just ate my comment! Perhaps one of my co-bloggers is logging on simultaneously. Stop that, Ellie!

Anyway, I said welcome Owen, great story, blah blah blah, and ended with... it's always about the beer!

Trying again,


Kat said...

So they drink beer while they play baseball? This sounds like my kind of country. It might also explain the brawl that wasn't.

Me, You, or Ellie said...

Great job, Owen. A pleasure to have you aboard. If only Garching had a nearby airport, so you could count planes during the game.....


Me, You, or Ellie said...

Loved the post, Owen. Go Atomics! We love you #23!

But holy crap to that assortment of meats and cheeses (was there really any cheese?)