Friday, October 12, 2007

Baseball and Cricket - Both Are Confusing

This morning before work, before the girls got up and things got hectic, I was sipping a coffee and reading the sports page of the Windsor Star.

A little side bar item caught my eye. It seems that England beat Sri Lanka in a single day Cricket match.

I read further.

Sri Lanka were floundering at 24 for three after 12 overs by the time Stuart Broad came into the attack. They rebuilt, slowly and cagily, through a 126-run stand between Kumar Sangakkara and Chamara Silva. But on a day of punishing heat and humidity, both men were gasping by the time they passed 60, and Broad was able to bounce them out in consecutive overs.

I wonder what that means?” I thought to myself. “It sounds like England won?

What an odd game.

Then I remembered a few weeks back, while our Satellite provider gave us a free preview of a European all sports network – watch a hurling match from Dublin, Ireland. And that was as confusing. I could appreciate the skills of the players catching what looked like a baseball on the end of what looked like a spatula on a bat, flip it up and hit what would be a baseball line drive – only as a pass to another player who caught it on his spatula and batted through some uprights for points – while below a goalkeeper tended the nets.

And I thought “What an odd game. It looks like Harry Potter’s Quiddich – without the brooms or golden snitch.

Then I remembered when the Irish came to Windsor for a visit.

Our two very great dear friends, Ray and Shell, flew to Canada for a vacation, and in the duration of their stay, spent two of their weeks with us.

On their second full day with us, we took them across the river to see a Major League Baseball Game. The Detroit Tigers played the Arizona Diamond Backs.

This was in June of 2004. The Tigers were not great.

This was our way to introduce Ray and Shell to North America.

A baseball game.

Hotdogs.

Warm beer in large plastic cups.

Vendors tossing peanuts at you behind their back.

You know, baseball.

Ray has a strong Irish lilt to his speech. And it took my North American ear a few days to tune into it. And neither Ray nor Shell had ever seen baseball. Oh, they knew the New York Yankees symbol, as the hats and jersey’s are big-sellers world wide. But they had never seen a baseball game.

I tried, over the roar of the crowd, to explain.

The pitcher throws the ball and the batter tries to hit it.” I started.

The batter swung for strike one.

He’s not very good, the batter, is he?” observed Ray.

I then tried to explain how they hit the ball and go to first, then second, then third. And they score a run when they get home.

Like Rounders?” asked Ray.

I don’t know”, I said. “I guess so.

The game went on, and a home run was hit. I explained the home run.

ahh I see … “ said Ray, who thought better now to enjoy the experience and see that the rules or the game were inconsequential. Insignificant. Why spoil the day trying to learn all this rubbish?

But I kept on, naïve as I often can be.

And Ray was great. He patiently listened to me explain, and said things like “I see”, and “right”. And he smiled and enjoyed the day in spite of my educational insistences.

Meanwhile Shell was gabbing away to Darlene about the great stuff in the gift shops. They were both on the same level of understanding. In fact they bought matching bracelets that you hook in little bobbles and mementos on.

In the bottom of the ninth, the Tigers were down 3-1. The bases loaded, and Carlos Penia knocked the ball into the right field bleachers for a walk-off grand slam. It flew right over top of us. And I stood up and raised my arms up and screamed “YEAH!!!!!!” – and Ray was clapping and waving his fist.

By jove, I think he’s got it. I thought.

And the game was over.

So as I sat and read the article about the English Cricket team beating Sri-Lanka – all I could think of was Ray – putting up with my explanations, and enjoying the game.

I have a dream that one day my family can go to Ireland for a visit with Ray and Shell. I pray one day I can make it come true. And if we do, besides playing a lot of golf (Ray is an excellent golfer), I hope to see some sports there.

I am a big soccer – er – I mean football fan. I would love to go sing in the stands at a Manchester United match, I would also want to see hurling, and cricket – if the Irish indulge or not I don’t know.

And if we did, I would let Ray know that no explanation is necessary, I will just drink the beer, eat some food, and sing and yell when everyone else does.

Although he may want to get me back for the baseball game.


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