Ask anyone from any foreign country what their favorite sport is, and they will answer quickly and enthusiastically: FOOTBALL! Unfortunately, they’re not talking about real football, they’re referring to that silly game Europeans play, where they run from one side of a large field to another, kicking a ball back and forth, aiming it into a small net and not getting it anywhere close most of the time. Statistically, there is only a slightly less chance of catching a tuna with that net than a soccer ball.
This goes on for an hour and forty-five minutes. That’s if we’re lucky. But if the referee has late dinner plans, or things aren’t going so great at home, or he’s having a better than expected time being a referee, he can simply extend the match at his discretion to account for stoppages during the game. All this effort is devoted to a zero-zero tie. If someone does accidentally score a goal, much of the remaining time is taken up by an announcer yelling, “GOOAAALLLLL!” It’s about as exciting as watching grass grow, and I’m including artificial grass.
For all the scoring that is achieved in soccer, you might as well not use your hands OR your feet. Just hit the ball with your head, and if you can think of anything else to hit it with, knock yourself out, if hitting the ball with your head didn’t already knock you out. Why not simply increase the size of the net? That goalie gets pretty good money for sitting around back there checking his emails while everyone else is scurrying about like a bunch of kangaroos. Speaking of kangaroos, one hopped onto the field during a match in Australia recently, and it was the most exciting thing that ever happened until someone foolishly chased it away with a pickup truck. The game of soccer would go from 0 to 60 in two seconds if they just made a kangaroo one of the players. Even a pickup truck would be an improvement.
I prefer baseball. I know, I know. Soccer fans are the same people who say that baseball is the boring sport. They think that way because they don’t understand the drama of the game, where one pitch or one swing of the bat can change the fortunes of the contest. The fact that there is a large amount of free time scheduled within the game is an under-appreciated bonus. In between pitches you can get a pedicure, ice a birthday cake, do your taxes.
People from other countries, baseball is where you want to be. First of all, it’s the only professional sport played in a park. Secondly, it is relatively safe. There is a lot of violent contact, but all of it in the stands. Third, I can’t think of any other game where foul balls are tolerated with such equanimity.
I want athletes from other countries to consider playing baseball instead of soccer. Baseball has become a much healthier and more inclusive place. It is the WORLD series, after all, and over the span of more than a century, we’ve extended the eligibility to include one team from one other country. Also, because of the health risks, ballplayers don’t chew tobacco anymore. Instead they crack bird seeds with their teeth and spit the shells out onto the dugout floor. Some say this behavior is less than manly.
Now, I don’t know how things are at your bird feeder, but you have to be plenty tough to nose out the squirrels in my neighborhood. I’m thinking of putting up a cake of suet to attract more ballplayers. So far I have a few Cardinals, a Blue Jay and an Oriole.
Other countries, I read the newspaper, and I know some of you aren’t our BFFs right now. But us Yankees need your best athletes. Forget soccer, it’s boring with a capital Z. You play ball with us, and we’ll play ball with you, if you know what I mean, and if you do you’ll be the first one. America welcomes you with open arms. Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Give us anyone you might have lying around who can throw a baseball 98 miles an hour.
Give us somebody who can hit .300, with a slugging percentage of say, .450. We can smooth out the details later.
Please join Rick and the No Options band, tonight, July 5, 7-8:30 p.m. for the Katonah Concert in the Park at Katonah Memorial Park
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