Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Homerun!!!

This is a highly biased narrative of my first experience at a baseball game. So, baseball lovers please donot read further. Last friday evening, I went to watch a baseball match live. It was the day I was mentally relaxed after a long time, so I did go in the hopes of enjoying myself. I made one important mistake though, and that ruined my enjoyment. I believed all those who told me that baseball was like cricket. I would have probably enjoyed it if I had attended the game with an idea of watching an entirely new game. That way, I would not have made mental comparisons between the two games all the time.
Baseball is nothing like cricket except that the game also involves a bat and a ball. The game is much shorter(this match lasted 3 hours) but lacks causes for emotional outbreaks, killer strategies and mental exercises. If cricket was anything like baseball, players would never hug each other on the ground for the loss of a wicket, Shoaib Akhtar would have never invented the aeroplane dance, Muralitharan would have never been called a chucker , Mark Waugh would have never had to take money to reveal pitch information and Sachin Tendulkar would not have the distinction of being out on '90s' the most number of times.
Most of what I am talking about revolves around just one thing..the thing that put me off baseball the most. A batsman getting out has no meaning. Its not a big deal. If a person gets out once, they can just come back again and bat after a certain interval called an inning. No wonder then that emotions among audiences and players dont run high even when the 'star' batsman got out. This astros player 'Berkman' is supposedly so poplular that toys with his face were being distributed to the first 10000 entrants, but his becoming out didnot evoke as much as a sigh from the crowds!!! I tried counting the number of times I would not have switched off the TV just because Sachin was out. All those memorable moments created in cricket at the loss of wickets chased each other in my mind. Pakistanis kissing the ground, all fielders rushing to hug the bowler ,the bowlers themselves performing a variety of gimmicks and the crowds erupting into drum beats and dances. Yes, I missed that , I wanted that, and when I did not get that, I began to look down upon the game, not caring for the fact that this game was supposed to achieve different ends.
The game seemed to me to lack the need for thinking. The field is one eighth or lesser than the size of a cricket field with 9 players on it. So there is no need for field placement. The field is crowded enough to remove that necess. Neither does the captain have to strategise nor does the batsman. Its the same field setting, ball after ball after ball by both teams.Also, there is just one pitcher for each team unless he says he is tired. The guy just throws the ball with varying speeds. I thought there was no more variety until one friend told me that the ball swings a lot more than the cricket ball. Granted, but still, there is not enough variety in the type of ball, like pace, spin, swing, etc. The change in the pitch during the day and the way some bowlers exploit gives one reasons to admire cricket and scorn at baseball. Its just full toss all the time.
There were sudden bursts of enjoyment from the crowd that released them partly from the sin of appearing for an important match without banners, painted faces, masks or drums. They would all stand up and applaud whenever there was a home run, a sixer in cricket would qualify as a home run.Music would be played and an overhead to train would run across the length of its rails once.There was on epoint in the game when it started looking for certain that the Texan team would win, and that point all the texans stood up together and sang a Texan song, "The spirit of Texas". That was really fun to watch and definitely increased my enthusiasm for the game.
All said and done, in spite of the home runs and the spirit of Texas, I vote for cricket as the better game. The next time I go to watch baseball I will try watching it with less bias.