Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Field of Dreams!

The Texas Rangers are in the best-of-7 play-offs in the World Series against the St Louis Cardinals this week. You know! …the World Series, which no one else in the world competes in! I should try and take some interest in this but having been to a baseball game this summer it doesn’t seem like an attractive use of my time. Perhaps I was bored witless at the Durham Bulls game (the venue for the other Kevin Costner baseball film!) because I didn’t understand the rules. I just looked on Wikipedia to educate my self but lost the will to live. I even looked at baseball rules for ‘dummies’, idiots’ and ‘kids’ and it still made no sense!  We took my Dad to the baseball game. He is a huge cricket fan. He was bored witless too. It made no sense!

Beckham on the sidelines

I thought it would be a nice family thing to do. It was very civilized. You could drink beer and no-one sang ‘Did you come in a taxi?’ from the terraces, when they didn’t perform (which appeared to be most of the time). A girly sang the Star spangled banner and everyone stood, arm across chest, in a patriotic stance. Everyone, except 6 Brits, that is. I can only assume, like everyone else who sings the American Anthem at sporting events, she didn’t know the words. The home team came on to a carnival atmosphere with music and clapping. The poor ‘away’ team were greeted with silence! Didn’t seem very sporty to me. Where was the abuse and booing?
I waited for the game to get going. I was still waiting 2 ½ hours later. It was so slow they had to play bursts of loud music every 10 minutes and shoot hotdogs into the crowds to wake everyone up. This fanfare allowed the players to sit down and do nothing for a few minutes, in much the same way they had for the previous 10 minutes of ‘playing’. It also allowed for the commercials as the game was televised. We didn’t get to see the commercials. We just saw selected members of the crowd do something silly with people dressed up as furry animals and girls in short jhorts (girls who should know better than to wear short jhorts!). During the whole proceedings, the crowd simultaneously burst into clapping every so often. To the untrained eye it appeared that they did this randomly for absolutely no apparent reason.
I could say it was like cricket for girls. In fact it was more like Rounders only slower, hideously boring and with armour. They had all manner of head gear on. I don’t know why. No one really moved very much. I still bare the scar on my chin of a game of Rounders in the playground as an 8 year old.  Pity I didn’t play baseball instead. I might have avoided that particular drama. So it wasn’t even like Rounders- less dangerous and less active. The players had muffin tops. That gear is very unflattering. Tight pantaloons and collarless shirts tucked in to emphasize their billowing bellies. If they actually had to run round they might get fit and lose some weight but that would require them to hit the ball. There was definitely some skill in hitting the ball. It was so skilful in fact, that hardly anyone did it. For a start the bowler constantly threw ‘no-ball’s’. Either that or they were allowed as many goes as they wanted. Try as I might I couldn’t work out what the hell was going on! If they did hit the ball they were invariably caught out – unsurprisingly really as the fielders wore huge washing basket sized gloves to catch a little ball. A neon sigh flashed a warning ‘Be alert! Foul balls and bats hurt’. When they actually hit the ball and make a run for it, they throw their bat. We were not allowed to do that in Rounders. It’s dangerous! The warning was followed by an ad for a personal injury claim firm! I love it when they are caught out. They carry on running for a while, in the same way someone runs a little after a trip, in the hope that no one will notice.
My Dad, who sits and watches cricket for days, was bored. I thought cricket was complicated but a friend assures me cricket was simple:

You have two sides, one out in the field and one in.
Each man that's in 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 they are all 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 a man goes out to go in, the men who are out try to get him out, and when he is out he goes in and the next man in goes out and goes in. There are two men called umpires who stay all out all the time and they decide when the men who are in are out.
When both sides have been in and all the men have been out, and both sides have been out twice after all the men have been in, including those who are not out, that is the end of the game.

Simple! I think baseball may be similar, only they have 9 innings and a different shaped bat. I think they have softer balls. I found a site that gave some basic fundamentals of baseball. I selected a few of the more simple ones:

Batting order. Make it simple. Keep team’s batting order posted in the dugout.
Dugout? Sounds like trench warfare!

Keep the helmet on.
Be alert… Foul balls and bats hurt! Sissies!

Strike zone. It takes a steady eye for a batter to cover the entire strike zone. Although it is subjective from umpire to umpire, the strike zone is considered the space over home plate between the batter’s shoulders and the top of his knees (when the batter uses a natural stance).
Yep! Simple!

Three strikes and you’re not out? Obviously, a batter is out if the catcher catches a third strike during an at bat. But if the catcher drops the third strike or the ball gets past him, and a baserunner is not occupying first base, the batter can run to first base and try to arrive safely before the catcher throws the ball there to force him out.

Tie goes to the runner. It’s as simple as it sounds. An umpire judges whether a baserunner is safe or out. If the runner can be forced out at a base and he arrives there at the same instance the fielder catches the ball, the runner is considered safe.
Baserunning. Running the bases is one of the most fun parts of youth baseball, but, yes, there are plenty of rules for it. A runner must touch each base when going around the infield and won’t score a run until he touches first, second and third base and then home plate in succession (if he misses one he has to go back to that base while touching them in succession and not passing any other runners). A baserunner can’t pass a fellow runner in front of him when rounding the bases. He also can’t run more than three feet away from his baseline to avoid being tagged out unless he is trying to avoid interference with a fielder. Make sure the runners know how to slide properly, safely and within the rules.

Tagging out. To tag out a runner, a fielder must touch him with the ball or with his glove when the ball is in. A runner is not out if the fielder tags him with his glove but has the ball in his other hand.

Make the right pitch. A pitcher has to keep one foot on the rubber during his windup and must come to a complete stop – though brief – during it. It’s also important to stress that a pitcher can’t put either hand to his mouth within the pitching circle unless the umpire has allowed it beforehand (perhaps on a cold day).
So – that explains why the pitcher does that silly leg up statue pose. …but the link to cold weather? WTF? Maybe he is allowed to wipe snot away in cold weather

So…there may be a good reason why the World Series is only played in once place. The same reason Cricket is only played in the Commonwealth and former British Empire.


  1. It's all double dutch to me , the only game i understand is football, but after years of being involved i still do not understand the off side rule.I did play rounders and netball at school. The rules seemed so simple then, but that was a long time ago. I have attempted to watch baseball but i found it boring just like cricket.

  2. The 'off-side rule' is a male conspiracy! It is completely made up and makes no sense and 'they' use it to try to exlude women and imply that they are stupid! Also the rule is there to try and give football an air of sophistication!
    Give me 'personal endurance sports' over team ones any day! I could watch downhill skiing competitions for hours!

  3. All American sports are crap.

    They even tried to Americanise the football World Cup, teams from all over the world participated!!!!! how weird is that?, when they had it in 1994.
    If a game was drawn at full time, they proposed it should keep going until somebody scored.
    They wanted the pitch divided up into coloured zones. Goals scored from different zones gained differing scores, i.e a higher amount of points per goal dependant on how far away from the goal you were.
    The game of 2 halves would become the game of 4 quarters, to allow for ad breaks, weener breaks etc.
    Time outs to be allowed for team talks
    etc etc etc etc,
    Luckily for once, these 'American viewer friendly' suggestions were laughed out of court

  4. Crazy! Trying to change the rules of a game - when baseball rules have never been changed over time (you'd think they would modify it a bit!)
    The 'best-of-7' play-offs are the same 2 teams. Presumably 7 games of 9 innings. Who would have the mentality to sit though that in sucession? Only in America!

    *For Americans - when we talk about football - we mean proper football (soccer to you):)