Monday, April 11, 2016

I just lifted this one from Lapham's Quarterly, a magazine that I do like very much. You couldn't say that I've stolen it, not really, because they sent it to me as a teaser in an e-mail. 

1911 | San Diego

National Pastime

It seems impossible to write on this branch of the subject—to treat of baseball as our national game—without referring to cricket, the national field sport of Great Britain and most of her colonies. Every writer on this theme does so. But, in instituting a comparison between these games of the two foremost nations of earth, I must not be misunderstood. Cricket is a splendid game—for Britons.

But cricket would never do for Americans; it is too slow. It takes two and sometimes three days to complete a first-class cricket match, but two hours of baseball is quite sufficient to exhaust both players and spectators. An Englishman is so constituted by nature that he can wait three days for the result of a cricketmatch, while two hours is about as long as an American can wait for the close of a baseball game—or anything else, for that matter. The best cricket team ever organized in America had its home in Philadelphia—and remained there. Cricket does not satisfy the red-hot blood of young or old America.

Cricket is a gentle pastime. Baseball is war! Cricket is an athletic sociable, played and applauded in a conventional, decorous, and English manner. Baseball is an athletic turmoil, played and applauded in an unconventional, enthusiastic, and American manner.

End of pasted text. 

I've watched some cricket on TV, and it seems very dull to me for the identical reason that baseball seems dull to the uninitiated: we have no idea what we are looking at. Both sports have elaborate rules that cover everything and seem to go on forever. The rules of baseball are several times the amount of text in the U.S. Constitution. Cricket is the same. 

But a couple of days does seem a little much, does it not? Cricket requires a massive attention span.  It's a rare baseball game today that is accomplished in two hours, but generally it still isn't much longer than that. So, for Americans, baseball. I love the game, myself. Played the hell out of it when I was a boy. I might take up watching cricket someday, too. About six years after I've mastered opera music. 

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