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Baseball = America

Apr 18, 2012, 3:30 PM EST

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Tim Stanley is a writer for the Telegraph in London. He went to his first baseball game the other day. Even though he referred to home plate as “fourth base,” he shows a far greater understanding of what baseball is all about than that dude who slammed it in his football blog yesterday.

And not just because he says smart things like “the rules are simple and any confusion is cleared up by more beer.”  He understands the zeitgeist of the thing, and makes some interesting parallels between baseball and the American psyche, at least as we like to believe it to be:

At face value, baseball’s an individualist sport because it’s all about the man at the bat. He swings, he runs, he’s in command of his destiny. But he’s also playing for the team, and sometimes sacrifices have to be made. If someone’s already at third base, the goal of the batter is to hit the ball far enough to allow his teammate to get to fourth – accepting that he’ll probably get taken out himself as he sprints to first. It’s a reminder that a necessary ingredient for the flourishing of the individual is the health and the wealth of the people around him. For you to succeed, others must succeed, too – and as with baseball teams, so with nations. We’re all in this together.

I don’t think our society always works that way. But I think we’d like it to.  At the very least it has before and will again. And I think baseball reflects it far more than the other sports do, even if other sports reflect how our society works in practice from time to time.

  1. morrismr466 - Apr 18, 2012 at 3:38 PM

    Bingo

  2. danrizzle - Apr 18, 2012 at 3:42 PM

    Some dude slammed baseball in his football blog yesterday? Very unsurprising. Is there a link to that?

    • baseballisboring - Apr 18, 2012 at 3:47 PM

      http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2012/04/17/football-writers-please-stop-trying-to-write-about-baseball/

      There’s Craig’s takedown. I didn’t bother reading the real blog post.

    • stex52 - Apr 18, 2012 at 3:48 PM

      Not just a link, a firestorm of response. Check HBT yesterday evening.

  3. pbsenerchia - Apr 18, 2012 at 3:50 PM

    Still all butthurt about that dumb football blogger, eh, Craig?

    • southbeachtalent - Apr 18, 2012 at 4:53 PM

      Cut him deep..

  4. Gobias Industries - Apr 18, 2012 at 3:51 PM

    “Chap, I got to fourth base with your mom last night! Cheerio!”

    I’m sorry, but British frat boy insults just don’t sound as good as American ones.

    • Bryz - Apr 18, 2012 at 5:31 PM

      You’re right, “your gay” on an online forum is totally better than that.

  5. baseballisboring - Apr 18, 2012 at 3:53 PM

    “Any confusion is cleared up by more beer…” Brilliant.

  6. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Apr 18, 2012 at 3:57 PM

    Baseball could always use fresh minds. I like his reminder of what the game is all simply about.

    • chumthumper - Apr 19, 2012 at 9:36 AM

      You throw the ball, you hit the ball, you catch the ball. (Crash Davis, 1988)

  7. sportsdrenched.com - Apr 18, 2012 at 4:06 PM

    Does this mean we’re going to stand-up, put our hands on our hearts and sing the Star Spangled Banner now? ….drink some beer?

  8. jwbiii - Apr 18, 2012 at 4:54 PM

    He hasn’t read up on his Jacques Barzun:

    Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball

    Oddly enough, I was in a jury bullpen earlier this week and the man sitting next to me was reading Barzun’s Darwin, Marx, Wagner.

    • hep3 - Apr 18, 2012 at 6:09 PM

      There is also Mary McGrory’s quote:

      “Baseball is what we were. Football is what we have become.”

      Are there bounties in baseball? I guess only when Roberto Hernandez is facing Omar Vizaquel.

      • jwbiii - Apr 18, 2012 at 11:35 PM

        Let’s look at our recent presidents:
        Obama: Basketball. Used to play regularly, does photo ops on military base visits.
        G.W. Bush: Baseball. Part of former Rangers ownership group; throws a good first pitch.
        Clinton: Jogging?
        G.H.W. Bush: Baseball. Played in college.
        Reagan: Football. Played in college.
        Carter: ?
        Ford: Football. Played in college.
        Nixon: Football. Friend of Redskins coach George Allen; used to suggest plays.
        Johnson: Poker.
        Kennedy: Football? Touch football is/was played at Kennedy get togethers; no idea if this started before his demise.
        Eisenhower: Football and baseball. Played football in college, was cut from the baseball team.

        It seems that the pendulum is swinging away from football, at least in this small sample size.

  9. K. Harker - Apr 18, 2012 at 4:59 PM

    He reminded me of what it’s like to listen to a Canadian call a baseball game – it’s about as sad as an American calling a hockey game. I’m in the wrong country for the sport I love.

  10. yankeesfanlen - Apr 18, 2012 at 5:17 PM

    By Jove! Good Show! Those colonies certainly know their way around the courts/ Let’s toast them with another pint!

  11. ltzep75 - Apr 18, 2012 at 5:27 PM

    God I can’t wait until memorial day where I can grill, drink beer, and watch a ballgame all at same time.

    • mirmz - Apr 18, 2012 at 5:48 PM

      Wait until Memorial Day? That’s me every weekend. Party on.

      • ltzep75 - Apr 18, 2012 at 6:38 PM

        I live in the northeast and (under normal seasonal weather) consider Memorial Day to be the unofficial start of summer and one of the High Grilling Holidays (which also include the 4th of July, Labor Day, and familial birthdays). Sigh…I miss my grill tongs.

      • jwbiii - Apr 18, 2012 at 11:45 PM

        Hmm. The weather forecast for random northeast town (North Andover, MA)* says 70 degrees and no chance of rain tomorrow evening. Sounds good to me.

        *Not so random. I was born there.

  12. scatterbrian - Apr 18, 2012 at 5:41 PM

    “It’s a reminder that a necessary ingredient for the flourishing of the individual is the health and the wealth of the people around him. For you to succeed, others must succeed, too – and as with baseball teams, so with nations. We’re all in this together.”

    That is one of the most beautiful things I have ever read.

    • hasbeen5 - Apr 19, 2012 at 8:40 AM

      I see it differently. I think the whole can only flourish if individuals are willing to put in the time and effort to succeed themselves.

      • stlouis1baseball - Apr 19, 2012 at 1:13 PM

        If I could give you a hundred thumbs up I would do so hasbeen5. Well stated.

      • hasbeen5 - Apr 19, 2012 at 1:59 PM

        Thank you, kind sir (or ma’am).

  13. Willingham & Eggs - Apr 18, 2012 at 8:45 PM

    Leave it to a Brit, attending his first baseball game ever, to have a better grasp on the beauty of the game than an American football writer.

  14. stlouis1baseball - Apr 19, 2012 at 1:27 PM

    “My Country right or wrong.” “My Mother drunk or sober.” Wonderful article.

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