Flip Flop Flying

A new sport

with 30 comments

A few weeks ago when I was in New York, I went to see a baseball game: New York Yankees vs Minnesota Twins. Since then, I’ve come to enjoy the sport quite a lot. I’m starting to think this must be what it’s like to be a born-again Christian or something. I’ve seen the light.

Years of scoffing at American sport (“waaaahh, too commercial, made for TV, never have drawn matches, hey, you nicked our name “football” and gave it to some sort of rugby sumo game”) washed away in one evening.

Since I found that for a small amount of money I can get live Windows Media Player coverage of all the games for the rest of the season on MLB.com, and since I’m not really sleeping that well at the moment either; it seemed a pretty good idea to sign up and watch some baseball in the early hours of the European morning.

My mate John was saying how enjoyable it is getting into new sports, and he’s right. There’s two weeks of every four years that I’m interested in random sports, and after the Olympics is over, I couldn’t care less if archery were happening in the next door flat. But for those two weeks, I love it all.

But, y’know, finding a new sport is a difficult thing when you get older. You get stuck in your ways. For me, it was and always will be football. There’s something so divine about watching good players combine to do something that makes your face light up with delight. Football football football.

I tried watching golf… s’okay. I’ll pay attention to tennis when it’s Wimbledon. Never liked cricket or rugby that much, mainly cos I was rubbish at both at school.

I spent a few years worth of Sundays watching Formula One. “Just loads of fast cars chasing Schumacher in vain” was kinda how I viewed it for a long time, but after a while I started to enjoy the monotony, and revel in the pit stops. My interest tailed off recently, what with Schumacher being so dominant, but it’s not his fault he’s tons better than everyone else, is it? And this season’s been a bit better, so maybe I’ll be back enjoying it again soon.

No sport, though, has affected me like baseball has since I was seven years old watching TV and seeing Kenny Dalglish playing for Liverpool. Baseball is great. Evenings when I should’ve been out and about enjoying New York’s nightlife, I was lying on the bed in my hotel room watching baseball (or Law and Order or Monk or repeats of Seinfeld. Maybe TV is my new sport…). It’s so user-friendly as a TV sport. Nip out of the room for a piss during a football match, and you will undoubtedly miss a goal. Nip out during baseball, and you’ll just miss the pitcher getting ready to chuck the ball again.

And the geek in me loves how many stats there are. Six different league divisions to follow; games won, lost, percentages, games behind. Stats broken down to home and away wins and loses, and even further broken down to results against teams from each division. Wild card stats. It’s nerd heaven!

I also like that I’m watching people my own age playing sport. People who shave. Not just boys nearly half my age. Last night, there was Yankees pitching fella who’s 42 years old! Forty two! That’s fantastic!

So, yep, I’m becoming a Yankees fan. I know, I know, it’s like supporting Chelsea combined with Man Utd: the big money team who can afford to buy anyone who’ve won loads of trophies lately; but they were the team I went to watch… And it was a Yankees fan that took me… And it’s not as if they’re doing great right now… (I think I’m just trying to convince myself here, huh?)

I’m still not up to speed with a lot of the terminology; but I know what RBI means, I know about Designated Hitters and the problems it causes with interleague play, and, most importantly, I know how the innings work which was something that always used to confuse me.

But still there are mysterious elements in baseball, like how the hell they work out the season schedule? 162 games, 30 teams… that doesn’t go. How many times are they playing each team?

And, something that furrows my brow every time I watch a Yankees game: what does Gary Sheffield have in his mouth?

Written by Craig

August 17th, 2005 at 8:56 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

30 Responses to 'A new sport'

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  1. Hmm. Is it chewing tabacky? As anachronistic as it seems to me, there seem to be lots of players who dip or chew. See here.

    Heather

    17 Aug 05 at 9:20 pm

  2. That’s cool. I know what you mean. I’ve gone from hating everything to do with cricket to loving everything to do with cricket in about 2 weeks, as u might have gathered from some of my innane comments. It’s like just vacuuming information,as you say. Like a new hobby. Anyway, cool. And funky pic-ette.

    ed

    17 Aug 05 at 9:20 pm

  3. Wow, that’s odd, huh? I’ve never really noticed how big a hunk of chewing tobacco is, but with Sheffield, it looks like it’s a chunk maybe the size of a ping pong ball… I thought of a gobstopper, but he seems to be chewing. Maybe you’re right, Heather.

    Craig

    17 Aug 05 at 9:35 pm

  4. I have never seen a baseball game in my life. Doesn’t it take a really really long time for a game to finish? What does RBI mean? And what are Designated Hitters? Not that knowing the rules ever stopped me from watching something – what the hell is a Silly Mid Off or Deep Fine Leg?! Do you know Ed, being the superstar cricket fan now?! Who knows. I’ll watch any sport, except for darts and that’s not really a sport anyway.

    Tori

    17 Aug 05 at 11:02 pm

  5. Cute pic too, but that’s not your team is it??

    Tori

    17 Aug 05 at 11:03 pm

  6. That’s an easy one Tori- silly mid off is right in the firing line of the batsman- hence the name.

    Deep fine leg is both a sophisticated pick-up line and a position right out near the boundry.

    ed

    17 Aug 05 at 11:28 pm

  7. It seems some games are longer than others. The one I watched on the website last night was about 3 hours.
    RBI: It’s a stat for the batter. If he wellies the ball and, say, two of his team mates that are on bases manage to get home, then that’s 2 runners batted in.
    Designated Hitter: a bloke who takes the place of a pitcher in the batting line up. This only happens in the American League, not the National League where the pitchers also bat. This creates problems when an AL team plays at a NL team’s ground where the home side’s DH rule takes precedence, cos that means the AL team’s pitcher has to bat; something he’s not so used to.

    And the pic, yeh, he’s supposed to be David Ortiz, a Red Sock not a Yankee, but I quite like watching him cos he’s a huge huge fella and seems damn good and whacking the ball.

    Craig

    17 Aug 05 at 11:42 pm

  8. I meant “AT whacking the ball.”

    Craig

    17 Aug 05 at 11:45 pm

  9. SO if they have all these different stat things are they all worth different points? Or are they just things to make it more ‘interesting’ and actually the only thing that counts to make them win is runs, or whatever they’re called in baseball? And do AL and NL interchange then so an AL team can play against an NL one and do the non-designated batter thing?? So many questions…

    Tori

    18 Aug 05 at 12:05 am

  10. Nice one Ed. So, have you ever used that as a super sophisticated pick-up line?!

    And I don’t know what mid off is, but I’m guessing it’s silly cos they might get hit, right?

    Tori

    18 Aug 05 at 12:06 am

  11. Nah, they’re just nery stats. A run is a run. The rest is boy fluff.
    Yep, it seems the majority of games are against teams with a team’s own league, but they do some games outside. This is something I don’t understand, cos they don’t seem to play all the other teams…

    Craig

    18 Aug 05 at 12:10 am

  12. Ah, you see the problem is I’m not sophisticated enough to weild it.

    And yes, mid off is litterally off the middle of the wicket- just to one side of the line that the batsmen run on. And it’s silly because they’re so close to the batsem that, unless they have lightning reflexed, they’ll be decapitated by the ball.

    ed

    18 Aug 05 at 12:14 am

  13. Hmmm, luck of the draw? Is one league better than the other league? I mean, is it like the premiership, or the championship or whatever it’s called now, and you get promoted to the AL or the NL, or they’re just totally separate? Sorry, this is probably getting really boring now, but I’m interested. Think I need to go and see a game if I’m ever in the States…

    Tori

    18 Aug 05 at 12:14 am

  14. Who’d be a silly mid off eh?

    Tori

    18 Aug 05 at 12:15 am

  15. No idea why there’s two leagues; each league has its own eastern, central and western divisions. Not sure why they split up the way they do. As far as I can tell, there’s no promotion or stuff.

    Craig

    18 Aug 05 at 1:16 am

  16. Go back to F1, this season is really exciting, especially at Schumacher keeps getting beaten by my new here Button and sulking. Other excitements are brought on by the lovely Juan Pablo having a bit of spirit and verve, waiting to see if Kimi will smile and whether his top lip moves, watching Alonso getting excited when he wins and how much trouble Coultard can rustle up within the FIA. I think he should be the new James Bond by the way!

    Is baseball just like rounders?

    CoCo

    18 Aug 05 at 10:55 am

  17. Who do you think should be the new James Bond? David Coulthard?? Nooooo!

    I Love Jensen Button too. He is ace.

    I thought baseball was just like big boy rounders, but obviously not!

    Tori

    18 Aug 05 at 11:53 am

  18. I used to like rounders at school. Can’t remember the rules, but I do remember them not being as complex as baseball. And that, as a left hander, I had a bit of an advantage.

    New James Bond? IF I had to choose an F1 driver as Bond, it’d be Montoya. And Häkkinen could do the bloke with all the gadgets. And Bernie Ecclestone would be a brilliant evil genius for Bond to pit his wits against. Just imagine what sort of car Bond would have, too… CoCo: you’re onto something good!

    Craig

    18 Aug 05 at 12:16 pm

  19. I actually think a Montoya/Coultard hybrid would be ideal as Bond. Ecclestone’s henchman would obviously be Schumacher

    CoCo

    18 Aug 05 at 12:22 pm

  20. … and he’s already got the tall, leggy chicks that would populate his underground lair

    Craig

    18 Aug 05 at 12:35 pm

  21. Gosh my imagination will be running riot watching them all race round in Turkey this weekend!

    CoCo

    18 Aug 05 at 1:28 pm

  22. You said “wellies” when discussing baseball.

    Derick

    Anonymous

    18 Aug 05 at 3:58 pm

  23. Craig, love the drawing. Funny thing is I’ll be watching him play the Angels out here in Cali this Friday night. Got seats right by first base, but being from Vermont originally I grew up watching the Yanks with my Dad so I’m still a huge fan and I’ll be routing for them even though I’m watching the Red Sox.

    And yes, it is chewing tobacco.

    Thoroughly Amused

    18 Aug 05 at 6:25 pm

  24. Craig, one day I’ll make you see the light and love cricket. Like, this series England have mastered the art of reverse swing and the Aussies are baffled.
    And the best thing is, everyone says this stuff but only a couple of bowlers and coaches in the world know what it means.

    Mark

    18 Aug 05 at 6:43 pm

  25. I took up bowling 6 weeks ago (as in “going to the bowling center and bowl” – not as in watching it on TV) and your mate is right – it is oh so enjoyable! I even caught myself watching it on Eurosport even if only for a few minutes. But I am nowhere near your 200… Duh.

    Anonymous

    18 Aug 05 at 7:35 pm

  26. What is reverse swing?

    Tori

    18 Aug 05 at 11:24 pm

  27. CoCo: Excellent!

    Derick: Of course. Why not?

    TA: Thanks for clearing up the tobacco thing. I like him even more now. Not that I like chewing tobacco or anything, just, it’s kinda old world stuff to be doing on a sport’s field. And, oh how I wish I could go and see another game… or a Liverpool game, actually, that’d be sweet.

    Dave: Maybe… one day… I’ve never seen a live game, so I guess it’s worth a shot.

    Anon: 222, son, 222! Bowling will bring you an immense amount of pleasure for a while, then it’s just addictive annoyance at not picking up your spares.

    Tori: It’s going to a party, putting your car keys in a dish, then just picking them up again and going home.

    Craig

    19 Aug 05 at 12:21 am

  28. 222? hm, that is a long way to go for me. and it is not only addictive but expensive….

    Anonymous

    19 Aug 05 at 12:33 am

  29. Which country you in? all I remember about bowling in the UK is that it was expensive and the lanes were crap. It’s similar in Berlin, but there are a couple of cheap-and-shitty lanes, and one really excellent place which is expensive. Having said that, I got my 222 on a shitty lanne, so, y’know, workman/tools/blame.

    Craig

    19 Aug 05 at 12:45 am

  30. Hamburg, Germany. Very very expensive…. but we are so far into bowling that we acquired a bonus card and are trying to get the company to sponsor us. There is something called “Betriebssportgemeinschaft” in Germany where you can do your sport and your company pays a part of the monthly fee.
    And the lanes are ace here – I can say that coming back from holiday and having tried ALL the bowling centers there (all three of them were crap).

    Anonymous

    19 Aug 05 at 11:47 pm

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