Good morning, baseball fans!
Christian Bjørgen, also known as the internet’s realPhali, is a wonderful father, husband, friend, teacher, community leader, entertainer, and one of my absolute favorite people on this planet.
He also happens to be a Mets fan from Norway. (Nobody’s perfect.)
I kid, of course. That is just our dynamic. He’s literally the best. And with our two favorite teams battling it out this week, particularly the double-header today that we are splitting custody of due to time zones, I thought it would be fun to talk to him about how a Norwegian even ends up liking baseball, let alone the Mets.
Q: What got you interested in baseball/the Mets in particular?
I’ve always been very into sports, especially football (European football, or soccer as you call it) ever since I was a kid, and when I wasn’t out playing myself I would watch games on TV or video tape at home.
When I was a kid we had a satellite dish, not super-common in Norway at the time, so we also got a bunch of channels from abroad, including one that used to broadcast games from all sorts of sports, like baseball and American football. I got interested in the two around then, but I didn’t really get into the Mets until many years later, when I was in my early 20s. A friend of mine is a big New York Yankees fan, and he came over to my house so we could watch the final game in the 2011 ALDS series, where the Yankees lost to the Detroit Tigers. I started reading up on different teams, and got really sucked in by the history of the Mets, and also figured it would be a nice way to annoy my friend. So I’d say 2011 was the year I became a Mets fan.
Q: Do you know many other baseball fans in Norway/Europe more broadly?
I have a few friends who are into US sports in general, and we often watch baseball or football games. When it comes to baseball we all have different teams, but when it comes to football we are all Vikings fans with a soft spot for the Packers if there’s no Vikings game on.
I don’t think I’ve ever encountered that many baseball fans “in the wild” over here, but I have had a few students who at least recognized my Mets ballcap! Most people I speak with don’t “get baseball” and are turned off by all the commercial breaks and stuff. We’re used to football matches where there’s 2x45 minute halves of uninterrupted play, so when you get 10 commercial breaks in 15 minutes of baseball you lose interest and change the channel.
Q: What is your favorite Mets-related memory?
Ooh, that would be the 2015 season, and in particular the May 18th game against the St. Louis Cardinals. We were visiting family on Long Island at the time, and listened to the game on the radio as we drove home from Hyde Park where we’d visited the FDR Museum. And the game went to like 13, 14 innings or something? I remember me and Milo (who we visited, and who was also a lifelong Mets fan) basically ran from the car into the living room when we finally got home so we could watch the end of the game, and when the Mets finally clinched it Milo cheered so loudly he woke up my in-laws who were sleeping in the room above! After that I was absolutely hooked and watched as many games as I could the rest of the season. After that, me and Milo would Facetime at least once a month to discuss the Mets and the season until he passed away last year.
Q: What are your expectations for the 2022 Mets?
Cautiously optimistic. There’s been a few good series so far, like the Diamondacks series that just finished, but I mean.. we’ve been here before; the Mets have this unfortunate habit of stooping from very good to “how the heck did you lose that”-bad in the blink of an eye. I think this is a team that should be able to secure post-season play, but I’m not ready to start cheering for the World Series just yet.
Q: What are your thoughts about the Giants?
I rarely get to watch the Giants, sadly, due to the nine-hour time difference, but I try to catch up with condensed games when I can. I think the Giants are quite entertaining to watch and should be a good contender for the World Series this year too. They honestly deserved it last year.
Now that last bit is surely just sheer pandering on his part, but nevertheless, my thanks to Christian for taking the time to chat and helping us kick off this double-header day of Giants and Mets baseball! I linked his social media above, but you can also find his work on YouTube and Twitch!
What time do the Giants play today?
You’re in luck! The Giants play twice today! The first game is scheduled to start at 12:10 pm PT, the second will start 45 minutes after the first game concludes. Double-header games are nine innings again, so get ready for a full day of Giants/Mets baseball!