One on, no one out

The World Series at Bella’s Sports Pub with Henri

TEAM PLAYERS <br>Bartender Ryan Grant (left) and General Manager Jeff Young have their happy game faces on at Bella’s Sports Pub in downtown Chico.

Bartender Ryan Grant (left) and General Manager Jeff Young have their happy game faces on at Bella’s Sports Pub in downtown Chico.

Photo By Tom Angel

Play ball! Bella’s Sports Pub, 134 Broadway Open daily for lunch and dinner ($7-$9 burgers, sandwiches and salads), and for Sun. brunch ($5.50-$8 omelets, scrambles and wraps) (530) 893-5253

Henri’s never had a very good relationship with your national pastime. Oh, he’s tried all right. As a kid growing up in the Midwest, I’d dutifully show up for recess and after-school games, hoping to get picked for a team. Which rarely happened.

My only good experience with baseball came in fifth grade when Biff Larssen—always a captain and ordinarily pretty mean to little Henri—not only picked me to be on his team but presented me with my own custom baseball jersey. On the back he had written “#1” and on the front “Switch Hitter.” I was so proud. I barely took that top off that spring.

Of course, L. and I used to go to the occasional Yankees game back when we were living in the Village. Once we got over the embarrassment of our first time—we’d heard there was going to be a makeup game and completely misunderstood—we’d go once a month or so, with a Thermos of Bloody Marys and our matching Tommy Hilfiger visors. We especially loved the arguments over whether a player was out or not.

So in good faith—and in memory of those games with L.—Henri decided to watch a World Series game this year. And, like a good American, I thought I’d cheer my team on from a sports bar.

Except that I didn’t have a team. I certainly didn’t have a cap with a team logo or a letter on it. I’d heard a team from Texas was playing, though, and briefly considered wearing my new leather chaps.

I headed downtown to Bella’s Sports Pub and knew I was in the right place before I even walked inside—outdoor speakers were broadcasting a game onto the sidewalk. Inside, five or six flat-screen televisions were tuned to different games, and the walls were packed with banners and team schedules and other sportsy stuff, including posters for the 49ers, which I always thought was a pretty good team. I wondered why they weren’t in the World Series.

I sat down at the bar and ordered a glass of Bordeaux. The waitress smiled politely and handed me the wine list. Oh. I ordered the Echelon Pinot Noir ($5), which actually wasn’t bad at all. Looking around I realized I was about the only one in the whole place not drinking beer. I was also one of the few not shouting. Probably best that I wasn’t wearing my chaps.

I quickly determined which of the televisions was tuned to baseball, hoped it was the World Series, and sat down at a table in front of it. A waitress approached with a menu, which was divided into three parts: “First Base” (appetizers), “Second Base” (salads) and “Third Base” (burgers, sandwiches and wraps, all of which included fries, onion rings, chili or a small salad). I immediately realized those were baseball terms and proudly ordered the breaded butterfly shrimp ($8.25) for my first base and, of course, another glass of wine. Then I sat back to watch the game, which was already apparently well underway.

I was hungrier than I’d realized, though, and while the shrimp—probably frozen from a box but pretty good dipped in tartar sauce—hit the spot, I needed some dinner. I ordered the fajitas. Pretty basic: just grilled chicken on a bed of romaine lettuce and salsa—no bell peppers, onions, black beans or guacamole—but decent.

I ate about half of it and turned back to the game. Someone had just hit the ball a very long way—they kept showing it over and over—and he was running around the bases like he wasn’t even in a hurry. A bunch of his teammates nearly mobbed him when he got to house plate, and the game was over. Just like that. I’d missed almost the whole thing.

But I’d had a pretty good dinner. At a sports pub!

So I’ll go back. Maybe next season. And try to pay more attention. I understand I could have seen a ball outside and someone named Andy pet it.