April 18, 2008


Baseball's worldwide appeal: After a few months in the BBC Washington bureau Kevin Connolly says while he may not have grasped all the finer points of baseball, he feels remarkably at home at the ballpark. (Kevin Connolly, 4/12/08, BBC News)

We have lived once again through the triumphs and disasters of opening week, that brief uplifting period in the baseball season when grass is short and hopes are high.

It is a time when even fans who know they will end the summer with the comforting familiarity of defeat and despair allow themselves to feel the uncertain agony of hope.

Not that I have actually lived through a baseball season before, of course.

It is just that a lifetime of watching American films and television programmes has given me a kind of eerie familiarity with things I have never seen before, almost as though I have experienced them in a previous life. Which I suppose I have.

It struck me first when I drove through southern Texas, where telegraph poles, strung out along the desert highways, chop the horizon into identically sized blocks, creating the illusion you are looking at a series of frames on a never-ending roll of film.

I felt as though I knew it and of course I did.

It is the landscape across which that great towering giant of stubborn optimism, Wile E Coyote, eternally chased the charmless Road Runner in Looney Tunes cartoons.

But nowhere is the shock of the familiar sharper than in the ballpark.

The very word alone reminds you that we speak the language of baseball even if we live in countries where we do not play it or watch it.

Whereas soccer gave us just two terms: Own Goal, for when one damages oneself; and, Hooliganism, for damaging others.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 18, 2008 10:52 AM
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