Batting for the other team: by Geoff Bokuniewicz
Cricket is the best sport that has ever existed anywhere on Earth. I can’t get enough cricket. The matches are like a thousand hours long, there are like 25 players, and they try and hit a ball at either other people or empty grass. I haven’t quite figured it out, yet.
Still, though, this issue Scottish Juan and I have decided to switch what traditional sports we’re going to defend—he’s going to take an American classic, baseball, and I’m going to take a distinctly un-American game, cricket.
I’ve been trying to catch the matches on the weird sports channels I get at home, and I’m transfixed. I have now spent a total of 30 hours in my life trying to figure out the rules and/or strategy of the game to no effect. At least in rugby I know the rules are stupid. I can’t even figure out how stupid cricket is, so I feel strongly sentimental about it already. It’s weird. I don’t like when this feeling happens about things that don’t belong in America. It’s scary.
It actually looks quite similar to baseball, one of my more favorite sports, so maybe that’s why. It’s actually a little creepy, now that I think about it.
It’s like the uncanny valley of baseball. The uncanny valley is a theory in which things that are almost-human look repulsive to humans. Cricket’s got a little bit of that going on, except it’s weird fascination for me instead of repulsion.
They use bats, but they don’t look like baseball bats. The pitcher has a wind-up and throw, but it’s not like a baseball throw. He bounces it instead of keeping it in the air. They wear shin pads and helmets with cages. And they have wickets, which I confess that I’m still utterly clueless about, except for thinking they bear some resemblance to the home plate in baseball.
But there are some cool things about it. It has a rich history, it’s kind of fun to watch because you will definitely not be able to figure it out, and it looks like it takes a lot of skill. Reading about some the rivalries and players and all the other stuff is just as interesting as American sports, although they don’t have any Dennis Rodmans (but that might be a good thing).
Like, do you know who Sir Donald George Bradman is? Wikipedia tells me (this isn’t technically a class so I feel like I can cite it here) that his “career Test batting average of 99.94 is often cited as statistically the greatest achievement by any sportsman in any major sport.” This guy was Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Babe Ruth and Jerry Rice all rolled into one. He was the rare example of a player that was so good other teams (namely England) devised entire strategies just to stop his dominance.
According to the New York Times, “[Jack] Nicklaus would have needed 25 major golf titles (he won 18), and Jordan would have needed to average 43 points a game (he averaged 32)” to equal the feats of Donald Bradman. Michael Jordan made Nike the coolest shoe company, but if Donald Bradman had sold Nikes, there wouldn’t be Adidas or Reebok anymore.
He’s so good that he ought to have been American. There has to be some mistake somewhere. No one has better athletes than we do.
So, try and catch a game of cricket. It’s good times for the whole family, if your whole family is British or something.
It’s a lot cheaper than psychedelics, and you’ll come away with roughly the same experience—being confused and disoriented for three hours while trying to stay awake and not feel like you’ve wasted the experience.
I recommend it.
America’s having a blasttime: by John Robertson
Whenever anyone has come to me with the topic of baseball my response is always, “Any ‘sport’ that you can play while dipping and/or chewing sunflower seeds is no sport at all.”
However, as of late, in the midst of studying for comps, I have found a great little balance of studying and half watching the television. It’s a fine line, though. If I like what is on the box too much, I just zone out and stop studying altogether.
Romantic comedies and sub-par independent movies work fantastically because I don’t really want to watch them; they just saunter along through the study guide with me. When cable is lacking in girly movies, however, I’ve had to find something else to fill the void.
Enter, baseball. This non-sport that I have never given the time of day really has grown on me.
The flourish of spring pre-season games is quite nice. It’s about as chilled out as American sports fans can get, I reckon, and it does your international reputation no harm at all. A nice beer, a couple of home runs, a victory; there are definitely a lot of worse places I could envision being. Happy days!
Especially considering the consistent speed of each pitch the batter faces on the plate, it is incredible, technically speaking, what the top-end hitters are capable of.
Fair play! After actually watching a couple of games, there appears to be more and more justice for those double and triple plays that squirm their way up the charts in ESPN’s top 10 plays on a routine basis.
While cricket is a gentlemen’s game for gentlemen, baseball is the people’s game for all men, women and kids.
Baseball is built on single moments. While test cricket matches regularly seem to last longer than most pregnancies, baseball is going to be an evening’s entertainment, and there is sure to be at least one moment within said evening where either pitcher or batter could put his name up in lights or whimper quietly to defeat.
It is great to watch and thrilling to be apart of, even just as a fan. Further, with cricket one side can post an impossible total after batting, which just leaves everyone to sit through 50 painful innings of irrelevance.
The two batters on the crease know it, all the fielders know it and the crowd knows it. There is far less room for game-changing moments on the cricket field that can set a crowd alight.
Don’t get me wrong. When a top-drawer cricket contest goes down to the wire it is enthralling, but baseball just lends itself to heroics more so than cricket, which nobody can argue with.
Another reason to pick the plate over the wicket is the beauty of “redemption” in baseball.
In cricket, your best player could step on to the crease, fluff his first pitch and he is done for the rest of the game, which might last two days.
On the other hand, your batters get multiple opportunities to step up to the plate. They might strike out twice, but that third innings could be the home run. It just intensifies the rivalry between the fielding team and the batting team.
Finally, baseball, unlike cricket, seems to carry a little more ferocious loyalty. People care far more about baseball rivalries. Cricket has predominantly built on the international game, which leaves little controversy. You follow your country and that is that.
But, there is such a wealth of history and controversy in the game of baseball that really does make it an animal of its own. It is one of the few sports that is actually bettered by a lack of an international scene. Baseball has teams you can follow your whole life through loyalty, not obligation. There is a wonder in that.
Besides, where would the world be without baseball caps? In short, the world would be worse off. All those non-Braves fans would be utterly miffed. What would they wear on their heads from dawn ‘till dusk?