'Well, how-de-do-de, Frank' burbled the announcer over the PA, his drool-spattered fingers sliding over the keys of the stadium's Hammond organ so loudly my teeth shattered and my tibia cracked. 'Can ya hear me, Washington? Cuz I can't hear you!' He slapped on a Los Del Rio record and blathered into the mic - the crowd roared their approbation. When the Macarena ended, the announcer howled over some Barbara Streisland while men in giant chicken suits made small children cry as they gyrated their fowl hips out of time to the music. Halfway through the game, some men rode round the diamond in a dune buggy, using rocket launchers to fire clothing into the crowd, which brayed its approval.


Twice during the game we all had to stand up to sing a song while the Village People did their thing on the PA. The guys in front of me were so drunk that they were dribbling on themselves and it felt like the world was ending. The Mets closed the eleventh 3-2 and the locals went home disappointed. It had all started so innocently.

I went to a baseball game the other day. My host and employer half-cultivates half-really has an enormous boyish enthusiasm for the sport. As we sat down with a hotdog and a drink each, he explained the rules of the game to me.

'So you see it's very simple. Each team takes turns in running - if you get to a third service over par, you'd better hope for a revealed check because without away goals, you'll be buggered and following on to boot. So instead to keep pole position just double down on the flop, take no short corners, and whatever you do, keep on running. Apart from that, you'll get a flyout or a groundout if you don't walk, so it's a simple matter of finding your runners in nib below the line, and converting your penalties - for a home run!'

He beamed. Later on, we stood up and everybody threw peanuts.