Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Dictator in Knee-High Boots

Go Lotte!
A couple weeks back I went to a baseball game with some friends of mine. Our local team—the Lotte Giants—were playing their last game before the post-season, a spot in which they were already guaranteed. Consequently, the crowd was not as bubbly as normal Korean crowds are cracked up to be. We found our seats in the placid outfield at the end of the first inning and settled down to a leisurely game.

But across the stadium, right behind the first baseline, the famed cheering section was doing its thing—despite any support from everyone else in the stadium. We couldn’t see much, but just like in high school looking at the other lunch tables we could tell other people were having a lot more fun than we were. Since it was our first game, Lee and I decided to crash the party.

The guards manning the gates into the rabid cheering section were easily foiled by a couple of wily foreigners. “Ticket?” He asked. We looked horrified and patted our pockets and pointed in the direction of our supposed seats. He teetered, but—as we well knew—he didn’t have the English to politely say, “I can’t let you in without a ticket,” so we were waved through.

Noise exploded around us—screaming girls, a man’s amplified voice, and, of all things, a vuvuzela. We found two open seats right in the middle of the mighty rumpus—in front of newspaper pom-pom-armed girls and behind flag-waving enthusiastic older men—and jumped in. I might have been screaming, “Hail to Kim Jong-Il and the blessed Communist Party” for all I knew, but I was screaming it to the tunes of old American classics. I vividly remember hearing the theme from Mission Impossible and probably a few from the Best of Queen album, too.

Hitler only wishes he had this kind of stage presence
Lee took pictures and I screamed God-only-knows-what as the Giants took a big lead in the fifth inning. The girls behind us made us a couple of newspaper pom-poms for our cheering pleasure so we could more effectively follow our cheerleader. This cheerleader—the drum major of the event—was a youngish (30s, probably, but Korean, so that’s still young) man wearing a Lotte uniform and knee-high white boots. He danced, he screamed, he led us with a control of the crowd so thorough as to make Hitler envious.

Don’t mind me. There’s just something about joining into one body of many screaming parts that forcibly reminds me of dictators and communism.

Anyway, unlike communism, it was a blast. I’m looking forward to more live Lotte games in the future. But for now, I’ll settle for keeping up with their postseason work. Game three tonight and hopefully on their way to the finals.

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