From time to time, there are disagreements in the Castle. One such topic that generates this is the whole baseball and soccer talk. The Czar recently posted a interesting read – which I agree with in parts – but take exception with some.
He’s not one of those Euro-weenies who are into soccer, and who get all aggressive about it because they don’t want to admit, yeah, soccer is a little socialist like nationalised healthcare or French restaurants. It just amuses the Czar that the criticisms soccer fans level against baseball are total Freudian transference because the same criticisms work so well against soccer.
Let’s take this apart. First, I’m not a “Euro-weenie” either and I don’t get into soccer to point of being aggressive about it, but I don’t quite see how the sport is “socialist”. Soccer clubs are owned by investors (groups or individuals) and have heavy sponsorship. Baseball teams are likewise owned by investors – although the sponsorship doesn’t extend to the uniforms in the MLB as it does in the EPL* and elsewhere in soccer. I’d poke at the Czar for being kind of a Euro-weenie by spelling “nationalized” with an “s” but that might be too easy. Others have argued that because the national teams (i.e. England, Spain, Argentina, etc.) are the teams to cheer on, the sport is socialist. Um, no. That’s called nationalism. Americans don’t have it as our country is on par with the size of Europe, so a better comparison is with state or regional teams in the U.S. Ever hear of rooting for your local NFL franchise? Or maybe your local baseball franchise – it’s regionally based…much like countries in Europe. They’ll also point at the offside rule but it’s a critically strategic rule. Other sports (American football, Hockey) have offsides rules and no, the soccer offsides is not like disallowing the “bomb” in football. Soccer has that same play – it’s called a “through ball”.
Maybe most telling is the matter of factness on how the EPL manages the league. The worst three teams get relegated to a lower league and the top three (via various means depending on the level) are promoted to a higher league. It rewards success. Baseball rewards the worst team by giving it the first pick in the following draft. Isn’t that more socialistic? Try to make it all fair by balancing out the talent?
I’m not denying that baseball is an incredible head-game of a sport. There are lots of intricate moves as the Czar describes. While I would not claim a 10-to-13-way chess (it’s two teams playing so it’s just chess…with lots of piece that you move around…the individuals are working together (hopefully) as a team to defeat the opponent), I admire all the details within a game. This exists in soccer as well, it just manifests itself differently. Watch a game and you’ll see teams probe different parts of the opponent’s defense, they’ll see if they can beat a certain defender on speed by getting a good through ball behind them, or they modify their field positions to exert more or less offense as deemed necessary. This is, in fact, where most people don’t get why Hope Solo’s comments about the Swedish team in the Olympics were so wrong – they weren’t playing “cowardly”…their coach and team had a well thought out plan on how to deal with the aggressive American attack. Much like a baseball coach would have a plan on how to pitch to a certain team.
I would agree with most of the rest of the Czar’s post but would offer the following: what is killing baseball isn’t the networks, it’s other sports. Back when the Gormogons were in school most high schools had the big three sports: football, basketball, and baseball. If they had soccer, it was a second class citizen. Forget the other sports like tennis, volleyball, etc. as they all took backseats to these sports. These were the ones that the “jocks” played. The rest weren’t the “cool” sports. Then lacrosse and rugby started creeping in and soccer kept growing in popularity. Additional national focus on the US Women’s and Men’s soccer teams aided it. At least here in the mid-atlantic, boys are largely focused on two sports: football in the fall and lacrosse in the spring. Lacrosse has unseated baseball. My son did baseball for a few years in grade school stopping the first year of kid-pitch (usually a painful year). During the early part of that he tried lacrosse, but two factors killed it: (1) it clearly isn’t his sport – he couldn’t wrap his head around it as an eight-year-old** and (2) he started a year late***. I think the general perception to those not invested in baseball is that it’s slow with lots of standing around – go research the “average distance covered by athletes in sports”. Yes, the third baseman will cheat in (measured by a few feet) or the center fielder will shade over to one side…maybe by a few yards. Especially when you see kids running around in lacrosse, football, and yes, soccer.
So don’t bash soccer to bemoan problems with baseball when there are other issues to address. It’s a sport that also includes strategy.
* English Premier League for those not in the know. Several Gormogons follow teams there including Hull City and Tottenham Hotspur.
** It’s incredible that at 8 years old we’re so focused on a sport like what I witnessed
*** Again, incredible that he was being outpaced by 7-year olds. Given, he’s not overly athletic but it was clear that missing a year or two definitely can set one back
GorT is an eight-foot-tall robot from the 51ˢᵗ Century who routinely time-travels to steal expensive technology from the future and return it to the past for retroinvention. The profits from this pay all the Gormogons’ bills, including subsidizing this website. Some of the products he has introduced from the future include oven mitts, the Guinness widget, Oxy-Clean, and Dr. Pepper. Due to his immense cybernetic brain, GorT is able to produce a post in 0.023 seconds and research it in even less time. Only ’Puter spends less time on research. GorT speaks entirely in zeros and ones, but occasionally throws in a ڭ to annoy the Volgi. He is a massive proponent of science, technology, and energy development, and enjoys nothing more than taking the Czar’s more interesting scientific theories, going into the past, publishing them as his own, and then returning to take credit for them. He is the only Gormogon who is capable of doing math. Possessed of incredible strength, he understands the awesome responsibility that follows and only uses it to hurt people.