A comment on a previous post seems to indicate that I should go back to watching soccer because it is such a dull game, and not come here giving my views on baseball. An enlightened view, but I think a wrong one. There are actually a number of similarities between the two sports which I think should be acknowledged to harbour greater understanding between countries who don’t like soccer (America) and the countries who do (the rest of the world).
So the next time some drunken hick stumbles up to you in a bar saying that soccer is a game for girls and is "like really boring dude" write down the URL to this blog and stuff into his tobacco stained mouth.
Similarity number 1) Both games recognise and reward defence-to the outsider a o-o draw in soccer is just dull, to the insider a tactical masterstroke by the coaches. Likewise the pitching duel may not excite your average Fox viewer, but it’s nectar to the aficionado.
Similarity number 2) You don’t have to be a freak of nature to play the game-now I except that of late baseball players have been pumping their bodies with enough chemicals to keep the New York Dolls on tour for a year, but you can still be 5’8" and play in the Major Leagues. Similarly soccer is full of "non-athletes" who have been the best in the world (Maradona, Puskas). So both games give everyone a dream of making it.
Similarity number 3) Both have dubious morality- One of the main complaints I here about soccer is that it’s full of players diving and pretending to be hurt. "How can you watch a game where there is so much cheating?" In response I say "what about the player who pretends to be safe when he knows he wasn’t? What about the player who fakes being hit by the pitch to get to first base? The manager who argues a call he knows was right in order to get a better call later in the game?" My inquisitor usually replies " You’re absolutely right, please accept my apologies". In truth, this "cheating" is an insult to the human race when the opposition do it, and all part of the game when our team does it.
Similarity number 4) The one big moment- Without wishing to denigrate other American sports, but the high scoring strikes many of us as like watching a very slow game of tennis, you turn your head one way someone scores, turn it to the other end and the other team scores. Clearly I exaggerate, but only slightly. Soccer of course has one currency; the goal, and because that currency is so rare ,when it occurs it is a moment of unrestrained joy. Likewise the Home Run in baseball has, mostly, such rarity. That’s why a Home Run in a low scoring game is so much more thrilling that in a blow out. It matters so much more.
Similarity number 5) Really bad mascots- I speak here purely about my own two teams, the Diamondbacks and Derby County. The D-Backs have that bizarre bobcat monstrosity that seems to dance very badly, and at the last game I attended tried to kill me by firing a bazooka loaded with t-shirts at my temple. Derby County on the other hand have a man dressed as a ram. He once approached me from behind and wrapped his arms around me. Let me tell you, when a giant ram has got you in a lock like that there are no good outcomes. My wife said that she had never seen me look so pale.
Obviously there are many more similarities and many more differences. At the end of the day it’s just sport, and gives us all an excuse to get really angry about something that doesn’t really matter.
Enjoy the game.