I’m not a very athletic person. Was on a constantly losing soccer team (“The Bobcats”?) while we lived in the US when I was 10. Seriously, I cannot remember us winning a single game. And it’s not that we didn’t try either. We simply sucked. Tried playing a bit of basketball in Junior high, which didn’t go over very well – me being chubby and four-eyed (back then) didn’t help much.
That’s why it comes as no surprise that my favorite sport is baseball. It’s the only one that even though you’re a fat-alcoholic-philandering-son-of-a-bitch you could still be considered, arguably, the greatest player to ever play the game (Yes, I’m looking at you Babe and Yes, I know you left most of your estate to underprivileged kids – you still cheated on your multiple wives). People in Israel, and quite frankly anywhere other than the US and Japan, just never seemed to get the whole deal with baseball.
I love the “anything can happen” mentality. When you play 162 games a season, most on back to back nights, games are never decided before they start. Games could be either a sleeper 1-0 or a booming 26-23. Most teams, abiding the law of large numbers, will eventually end their run with something close to a 0.500 winning percentage. But some of them will do a lot better (0.7 perhaps) or much much worse (Cleveland once did the almost impossible with a 0.130 season). It’s basically a game of endurance. Every at-bat, every inning, every game.
It does have its draw backs, like, you can never know how long a game will be (but that’s also true about tennis). Or the fact they call the US championships “The World Series” – way to go sticking your head up your own ass, US of A.
Thinking back, I realize my love for baseball has, like many other things in life, been manufactured by Hollywood. While living in the states, in Virginia – where there is no baseball team, two movies came out, which I doubt anyone in Israel even knows about. Angels in the Outfield and Rookie of the Year. Both grossed in the mid 90’s more than 50 million dollars, each. Pretty impressive. Since I think nowadays they don’t stand a chance at the box office (look at theses trailers: 1 2, you’ll understand why). I saw them both in the theaters and later on my parents bought us a VHS of the first. I think I’ve watched that movie more times than I’m willing to admit.
Baseball is always depicted in film as the national pastime – something that endured world wars, recessions, the Bush administration. Something you enjoy watching haphazardly while holding a beer in your hand. That is exciting enough to follow but eventually insignificant in the grand scheme of things (unless it’s the end of the season, obviously). A game that allows you to pass the time.
Folks in Israel usually call it boring. They would much rather play football, I’m guessing, because of the violence. We are such an erratic people. If something stays the same for more than a few minutes we can’t cope. We need change – something to gloat about, to kvetch, to be offended by. That’s probably what separates us from Americans. They just want to have a good time.