Everyone--except American baseball fanatics--understands the absurdity and arrogance of calling a national championship involving only teams from the United States the World Series.
Not to be outdone, he English have equally stupid titles. The top football/soccer league is called the Premier League or Premiership (with appended sponsor’s name). What would be called Second Division in sensible countries is called The Championship. It cannot be called the Champions League, because that a name belonging to the European Football Association (UEFA) and is battled out between the top five clubs of all member nations. Of course, an English team must be in the premier league, not the championship, to be eligible of the champion’s league. Go figure...
If she were still alive, my mother would be thrilled. She was a Red Sox fan, as was her mother. Both were long-suffering; I doubt ever experience a World Series win. I do not understand their interest, because we never discussed baseball. Perhaps, listening to the games on the radio killed time.
I remember falling asleep to radio broadcasts as a young child. My father took me to Fenway Park once or twice. I lost interest in baseball, once I became active in hockey, which proved the plodding nature of former. One sport has penalties, the other “errors”.There’s no such thing as a “walk” in hockey or anything similar, which tells you something...
What I shared with my mother was devotion to a Boston team that lost more than they won. This could be labeled loyalty or stupidity. My mother was not stupid...
See if you can spot the error/contradiction in a headline and subhead from today’s Guardian.
Red Sox win World Series game 2
World Series: Wild seventh inning rallies St Louis to 4-2 victory in Boston
to tie 2013 World Series 1-1
Perhaps, being English, they substituted cricket rules…or don't understand baseball…or are simply stupid...
I will repeat something, which I have said often. I like to do sport more than I like to watch sport. Always have and always will. Even in college, when I played competitive sport, I preferred a book to spending hours in front of a television watching football (US variety). I might have watched hockey, but NHL games were not broadcast in those days.
Now, I watch the occasional football (global variety) match. I enjoy women’s international matches, because it seems to be a purer form of the game, without intense physicality demanded of men. Good matches in the World Cup competition and latter stages of the Champions League (for the uninitiated or uninterested, that’s a competition of the best clubs in Europe to make a bundle of money and bragging rights for owners) can be entertaining, if one can have a book nearby for the boring moments. Last night was the final match (Munich vs. Chelsea of London), which was boring throughout, but exciting at the end.
I tuned into the match part way through the first half for a few minutes. The game did not hold my attention, with Munich seeming to dominate play but unable to penetrate Chelsea defenses. I switched to more-interesting programming. I tuned in again and found play at around the 80-minutes point (again, for the uninitiated, a game is two halves of 45 minutes). After a few minutes, Munich scored, so I switched off. At some point--much later--my daughter called to ask if I was watching and informed me that there had been a tie after regular play, (Chelsea had scored a goal). After a scoreless overtime (two 15-minute halves), in which Munich had missed a penalty kick (I imagined the frustration and agony in the stadium--the game was being played in Munich!), penalty shots would have to decide the match. I decided to watch the agony and thrill: both were guaranteed.
Penalty kicks are more difficult than they look. The ball is kicked from twelve meters at a goal, which is 18 meters wide. A goal tender plants himself in the middle and hopes to guess which way the kicker will aim (which does not mean the ball will head in that direction). Anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of statistics will know that he has about a 50-50 chance of guessing correctly (I say “about”, because he could choose to not move and the ball could be kicked directly at him). Anyways...
Not to prolong your reading and the agony of knowing the result, Chelsea kick more in/were blocked less times and thus won. Why is this important?
The point I want to make is about the improbability of the entire Champions League competition coming down to one kick of a ball. I want to put this into perspective for Americans, most of whom do not understand or care about soccer. So, I tried to think of an analogy, which non-soccer aficionados will understand.
Imagine the final game of the World Series. Last pitch at the bottom of the 9th inning.
The score is 3-0 for the team in the field; vases are loaded; and there are two outs.
The count is 3-2 (3 walks and two strikes for non-baseball aficionados).
The batter, one of the team’s best hitters...
He swings and misses. The team that should have/could have won loses on the one pitch.
No matter how good the player might be during his entire career, he will always be remembered for that one pitch/strike.
The better team does not always, because--on any given day--any team can win at soccer. It’s not the loss: it’s that they could have won and should have won. One roll of the dice, or rather one pitch or one kick, should not decide the outcome...but something must. That’s life and that’s sport.
As my friend, Antje, used to say: sport is murder.
As a young boy, I followed the Red Sox. I would fall asleep listening to the radio broadcast of a game. Because of that, and the fact that my room was on the third floor of our house, my Christmas gift one year was a clock radio. This was not to remind of the time of the game, but to remove the need of mother climbing the stairs to turn off the radio each night. Soon after, I lost interest in baseball and developed an interest in the Bruins, whose games were not broadcast. At the time, they had the distinction of being the worst team in a league of six teams. Times were different. Even then, the President was criticized for playing golf.
The only thing that this has to do with the following piece by Gail Collins is that we both mention the Red Sox. As always, she is insightful, entertaining, and able to ridicule someone without sounding negative.
Foreigners seem to have a difficult time understanding baseball. It is a rather simple game, which explains its appeal to Americans. I, on the other hand, do not understand cricket, from which baseball descends. Then again, I have never been to a game or let someone explain the rules. I simply cannot accept something as being a sport or game in which the players stop for afternoon tea. I enjoy afternoon tea, but in a plush London hotel with piano music accompaniment.
Many years ago, I discovered the below-reproduced document and added it to my collection of things I collect. I do not know the source and author. There must be someone out there that has wondered about or that needs to know this...
(as explained to a foreign visitor)
You have two sides: one out in the field and one in.
Each man that’s on the side that’s in goes out and when he’s out he comes in and the next man goes in until he’s out.
When three men are out the side that’s out comes in and the side that’s been in goes out and tries to get those coming in out.
Sometimes you get men still in and not out.
When both sides have been in and out nine times, including not outs,
That’s the end of the game.
I must admit that I understood the game much better before reading this. It helps to grow up playing baseball. Doing is easier than teaching....
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.