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Beijing and Baseball: Security, Ties, Taiwan, and “Take me out to the Ballgame”

Some notes from Saturday’s Dodgers/Padres game here in Beijing.

  • Overall, we had a great time. It was a beautiful day for baseball. A little chilly and windy perhaps, but nice sunny skies.
  • Wukesong Baseball Stadium was not particularly impressive, but suitable for the purpose. It has an obvious “won’t be around in 2009” feel with temporary bleachers that allow the wind to whip through. (We even had a mini dust storm in the 4th inning.) Might work better in August when a breeze will be necessary to keep the field cool. As I said to my friend, “If the August sun hit a closed stadium, we’d have ‘The Wok’ to go along with ‘The Bird’s Nest.'”
  • Long lines to get in with the usual bag checks and bans on bottled drinks but with a Beijing twist: metal detectors, wanding, and bans on lighters, oversize bags, and cameras (though many cameras got in). I was carrying a novel for the subway (Nury Vittachi’s Mr. Wong Goes West) which got a careful inspection by the guards, who gave it back only after I asked them in Chinese, “You really don’t understand it, do you?” The young lady then gave me a pat down and wanding so complete that if offered on the street in front of a hotel it might have qualified as “solicitation.” One of our cronies for the game was from LA and said: “Jesus, even at Dodger Stadium we don’t have this kind of security and people back home carry actual guns.”
  • The lines meant it took a long time for people to filter in and take their seats. Even so, there were plenty of seats available even after I was told by the ticket people that I was getting “the last two” in the section. Another group near us said, “They said that to you, too?” Bodes well for the Olympics.
  • There weren’t a lot of stars (Adrian Gonazalez, Andruw Jones, and Matt Kemp were three of the bigger names) though I admit to a general prejudice against the National (‘quadruple A’) League. The Dodgers were actually traveling with a split squad which meant a lot of rookies wearing numbers more suitable for a wide receiver or lineman in the NFL. Generally speaking if you show up for spring training and they hand you the number 85, you know you don’t have much of a chance of making the team.
  • Taiwanese shortstop Hu Chin-lung (Hu Jinlong) was in the starting line-up, but didn’t make a very good impression. He made 2 fielding errors and had couple of very weak at bats. After lining into a double play it got so bad that a member of our group suggested out loud that Hu’s performance might cause some PRC baseball fans to rethink the One China Policy. He did eventually draw a walk late in the game. “Lookit, Hu’s on first!” I crowed. “You’ve been waiting eight innings to say that, haven’t you?” asked my friend. “My whole life,” I replied.
  • An LA fan waiving a Dodger pennant in the 7th inning drew a swift response from two Beijing police officers.
  • Loved seeing Trevor Hoffman march in to the sound of “Hells Bells.” Even in a glorified AAA park, it was still pretty cool.
  • We all stood for the Chinese national anthem, but nobody sang along, not even the Chinese fans. Our section made up for it though during the “Star Spangled Banner,” sung with gusto and even a little harmony action. I was pleased to see the American fans take off their hats for both anthems. The Chinese fans kept their hats on. I guess flag customs differ from country to country.
  • Instead of the “Guess which hat the ball is under” game on the jumbotron, we had “Guess which pagoda the ball is under.” Yeesh.
  • Cheerleaders between innings. Nice touch.
  • Tie game? Come on! You want to sell this game in China, make them play it out.
  • I was disappointed that the Dodger starting third baseman was injured and couldn’t make the trip just so he would have the joy of hearing somebody yell “Nomaahhhhh!!!” even when he’s 7000 miles away from Boston.
  • You have to sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the stretch. You just have to. Nice touch by the printers for putting the lyrics into the program as a help to the Chinese fans. On the other hand, is it too much to ask to maybe put a roster in there too so we can figure out who #75 is on the Padres? Also, the jumbotron is a little useless if you’re not going to post the lineups, the pitchers, or the players’ positions. The scorekeeping was also a little random. An out recorded as a home run gave the Dodgers a 2-1 lead, an error which was never fixed. Fortunately, the Dodgers scored in a later inning to ‘rectify the scoreboard.’ (Can you zhengming a jumbotron?).
  • There were police and security EVERYWHERE and apparently some of the boyos got a little rough after the game when a group of Korean fans were physically restrained from getting the autograph of starting pitcher Chan Ho Park.


  • Smaller crowd and much less of a security presence, the latter making for a nicer game environment. Getting in was no problem today and the security guards didn’t appear to be as thorough in their searches, though the pat down/wanding process was still a trifle more intimate than I like without dinner and dancing first.
  • Tried the hot dogs today. Wish I hadn’t.
  • Another beautiful day for baseball and a better game today. It had a little of everything except a home run.
  • Jet Li threw out the first pitch, and unlike US Ambassador Clark Randt on Saturday, he didn’t require one bounce to get the ball to home plate.
  • Crowd favorite Hu Chin-lung, after my mocking him yesterday, came through today. In his first at bat, he singled, moved to second on a bunt, stole third, and then came home on an extremely shallow fly to left. Looks like we may have found the Taiwanese David Eckstein.

2 Comments on Beijing and Baseball: Security, Ties, Taiwan, and “Take me out to the Ballgame”

  1. Well as long as the Dodgers lose…that’ll be OK. I’d love to see Jeff Kent be stricken with a serious case of la duzi during his time in China (assuming he made the trip)

    Yes, I’m a long-suffering Giants fan.

  2. Matt,

    You’ll be glad to know the Padres won today 5-3, so I guess you could argue they took the weekend series on aggregate 8-6.

    And sorry, Jeff Kent didn’t make the trip.

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