After a 2020 season with a lot of hick ups (for well known reasons), the question was if the 2021 season would be better. In 2020, yours truly was able to attend only one game in Germany. In 2020, the Holland Series were canceled after two games and in 2020, Belgium didn’t have an official champion. So how would 2021 be?
The 2021 season would be much better but still not perfect. Still, it was not easy, if not impossible to to enter Germany without a lot of hassle, so that will be a chapter for next year.
Luckily it was possible to attend games in the Netherlands and Belgium, even though both leagues started (a bit) later than usual. From where I live now, it is almost 200 kilometers to Amsterdam (one way), so to attend a nine inning game at one of my two favorite clubs in the Dutch hoofdklasse, I have to drive nearly 400 kilometers in total. A bit too much if you’d ask me. As a result, I didn’t attend a game of L&D Amsterdam Pirates. The games I attended in the Netherlands were limited to my other favorite club, Oosterhout Twins, and Curaçao Neptunus.
But since there is more baseball than baseball in the Netherlands alone, I decided to attend several games in Belgium. And there I rediscovered the joy baseball can bring. To me, baseball is a total experience. Not only the game but also the fans and the atmosphere. Much to my surprise, at most clubs, fans were cheering on their teams and the atmosphere was nice, something I haven’t experienced in the Netherlands for quite some time. In the past 5-10 years, baseball in the Netherlands has become rather boring. Sure the level is unparalleled (for European standards) but the fans hardly root for their favorite teams anymore. Perhaps one of the exceptions may be the fans of L&D Amsterdam Pirates. But in general, the atmosphere at the average hoofdklasse game in the Netherlands has become rather dreary. As a coincidence, I met someone of Neptunus at game two of the Belgian Series yesterday. We had a discussion about baseball in the Netherlands and Belgium and in his opinion, the fans at Neptunus have become rather jaded.
For several years, the Dutch hoofdklasse contains the same eight clubs. No change whatsoever. That is why I am glad that RCH-Pinguïns earned the promotion to the Dutch hoofdklasse. I sincerely hope that the club will accept the promotion. It is nice to see a new team again. Besides that, baseball in the Netherlands has become very predictable. In the past six seasons, the two participants in the Holland Series were the same and could be predicted in advance. How exciting is that? Normally, I am excited and pumped if Amsterdam Pirates wins the Dutch championship but this year I hardly felt any emotion.
It is always nice to meet new people. The only two clubs where there were hardly any fans in the stands (when I was there) were Mont-Saint-Guibert Phoenix and Namur Angels. At Namur there was a handful of fans, in Mont-Saint-Guibert around ten.
Nevertheless, the people over there were very friendly and hospitable.
Perhaps the most surprising experience was in Brussels. The local club, the Brussels Kangaroos doesn’t have a clubhouse. The field of the club is located right at the border of two submunicipalities of Brussels. As a result, the club is trying for twenty years to get a clubhouse, but all in vain. So they are selling drinks out of a cooling box and they are selling hamburgers that are made on a movable grill/BBQ. The great thing about this club is that it is a melting pot of cultures and races. I have seen Spanish speaking persons, Japanese, Americans, Dutch, you name it. And once again, all were very friendly and hospitable.
The Belgian Series brought me the experience I saw at several clubs in the country but ten times better. There was a good crowd as you can see at the photo below. And that part of the crowd was only at the right side of home plate.
Of course I still will attend game at Oosterhout Twins in 2022 and perhaps I will decide to go to Amsterdam to root for L&D Amsterdam Pirates. But for sure I will attend more games in Belgium and Germany, just to see other teams but also to soak up the atmosphere and to meet new people. I don’t mind if the level at these two countries isn’t as good as in the Netherlands. As long as I can see baseball and can experience a good atmosphere, it is fine with me.
Now let’s see how we can overcome a long off season.