baseball - and cricket

I love sports. In recent years, with the Spirit's help, I've become less obsessive (and less idolatrous) with that 'love' and a whole lot less nationalistic as well. Rather sadly, with my current nomadic life, I am rarely able to watch live-sports much anymore.

But then there is the internet. It allows you to follow sports with a fresh and passionate immediacy. I spent the early 1980s in Chicago. Once I understand a sport I tend to enjoy it. And so it came to pass. The Cubs (baseball). The Bears (football). The Bulls (basketball). Loved it. But each of these teams was terrible in the early 80s. I worked in the library at the TEDS seminary and my boss, Brewster Porcella, agreed (kinda) to fund a trip back to Chicago if the Bears made it to the Super Bowl within the next two years. They won it in 1985 and the promise was not honoured! Soon after I left Chicago a guy arrived in Chicago by the name of Michael Jordan. Not so long ago the Cubbies won the World Series. I know full well what that means to that city...

For a couple of decades after leaving Chicago, I lost track of the Bulls, the Bears and the Cubs. But then there is the internet. Nowadays one of the ways I like to relax is tracking those Chicago teams in an obsession-free, idolatry-avoiding manner. Loved the NFL Draft last week. Excited about the NBA Lottery coming up later this month.

Sometimes I am asked to compare sports. Speaking objectively and with a full(!) understanding of both sports, here is the deal. These are the facts. Cricket is a better sport than baseball. It just is.

Let me make my case. Simple and clear.

In cricket, batters have 360 degrees in which to hit the ball, not just 90 degrees. This means a fuller range of shots which means a fuller range of techniques. Greater skill from the batters. Greater interest for the spectators. Gee whiz - it means you can have a fully rounded stadium, not a slice-of-pizza one. In cricket, pitchers move the ball off the ground, not just in the air. This doubles the skills - and doubles the difficulty for the batter. In cricket, everyone is a fielder and no one wears gloves, except the catcher. There is just so much more going on in a cricket game.

Consider this little case study. My favourite cricketer at the moment is Trent Boult. He is a pitcher.  In baseball he would not even be on the field as a fielder. But over a recent two year time-frame, just look at these catches he has taken. In-field catches. Out-field catches. They are spectacular ... and no glove.

And then last month, he added this one to his portfolio (remembering that he is naturally a left-hander) and the internet went crazy.

One more thing. Baseball fans can no longer moan about cricket going for 5 days (which, just quietly, is still my favourite form of the game as it prepares us for the eternity of heaven where cricket will be the main sport that is played). There is now a version of cricket that lasts the same length as a baseball game and, I have to say, game-for-game it produces consistently more suspense and closer results than major league baseball. It is called T20 cricket and each side faces a total of 120 pitches/balls. However cricketers in this form of the game are a bit soft and need to toughen up. They play 2-3 such games each week in a very short season, while baseball players play 5-6 games each week in a very long season. If cricketers toughened up, then the T20 season would be much shorter, giving us more time to enjoy the 5-day version of the game and thereby build our expectation of heaven.

nice chatting



Elliot Rice said…
Love it Paul. Some of your finer eschatological reflections here too! And how good was that Cubbies championship?! Looking forward to the event in Dunedin later in the month—Sarah and I are coming down with Chris and Julie Chamberlain. See you there.
Matt B said…
Unfortunately sport and nationalism go hand in hand. If only baseball lovers had the veil torn from their eyes.

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