A lot on the site today about the “cross-over appeal” of the World Cup, and there’s no doubt about it; half the televisions in the Yankee club this afternoon were tuned to it (and half is a lot of televisions), and two of my companions and I stuck around to watch the last 30 minutes of the USA-UK tie.
But, while firmly believing that neither game is as much a sport as it is a cultural inheritance, and freely stipulating that if neither had ever been played and both were invented tomorrow, both would have a hard time catching on anywhere in this electronic age, I have to insist: I just don’t think soccer measures up to baseball in any respect excepting the joy people derive from each.
More over, soccer’s support in this country reminds me of a dining room set we got when I was seven. It and the accompanying swivel chairs were much ballyhooed, and in the style of that Keep-Up-With-The-Joneses era, my mother boasted about them to all the other mothers. Came the grand day of the dining set’s arrivals and the swivel chairs were unavailable, on back order, and identical looking non-swiveling chairs had been given us as loaners. Well, one of my mother’s friends came over and decided to one-up my mother by explaining the history of these chairs, her familiarity with the product, and her superior ability to judge the efficacy of the swivel mechanism. The chairs would not budge, but she would not let that stop her. While seated in one, she lifted it up, half with her feet, half with her hands, and bounced it a few times to the left and a few times to the right. “Yes, I can tell,” she said, “you got the good ones. Not the best, we have better ones, but these are good too.”
In her mind, they swiveled.
To me, that’s an American soccer fan, seeing suspense and action where there is little. More disturbing, perhaps – and maybe this is why European fans in particular are noted for their violence – is the almost complete non-interaction of the spectators with the sport. Fans are kept engaged at all times at a ballgame; in every one of them at least one baseball winds up in the seats, and if you’re lucky, a player will, too. Fans can impact play on the field without doing more than standing and moving their arms (ask Steve Bartman, or, me, in an identical play at Yankee Stadium in 1972 or 1973 involving no less than Moises Alou’s Dad as the fielder). To effect the game, the soccer fan must run on to the field. Or sing. Or run on to the field while singing.
It doesn’t swivel. Sorry.
But enough of that. Back to the world of Daniel Nava and somebody who owns a Bryan Bullington shirt. The Nava story is self-explanatory (has soccer had one like that since Dixie Dean retired?), the Bullington one I’ll get to in a moment.
First, a shot of one of my friends at the ballpark today.
Ex-soccer player himself, was happy with the tie, didn’t see anything special in the US-UK game.
Jason Bateman is a Dodger fan, in town to reveal a new online comedy site he will co-populate with Will Arnett (not attending today’s game). Here, Jason, also the Commissioner of his own fantasy league for five seasons, signs a baseball for a fan who obviously no longer cares about the value of the baseball.
A considerable debate preceded this about where exactly he should sign the thing since the store-bought ball appeared to have a logo placed in the traditional “sweet spot.” I suggested that it no longer mattered, providing his signature was not upside-down compared to the manufacturer’s inscription on the ball itself. If you happen to see this ball on eBay with the inscription erased, this photo will serve as the certificate of authenticity.
EXPERIMENTING WITH AN APP
Downloaded this thing “CameraOne” for iPhone – I think the cost was $1.99 – and it gives you a zoom on the phone. It’s a little grainier than I would like, but not by much. Examples:
Derek Jeter at the plate, at the left; the Golden Knights of the U.S. Army Parachute team arriving early.
One last image, from last week, a Pirates’ fan missing a foul ball and, in frustration, throwing his glove. He was wearing a shirt representing Bryan Bullington, the first pick in the 2002 draft, who had a lifetime 0-3 record in Pittsburgh. If he’s a relative, that’s one thing. Otherwise, you might want to have a tailor take the lettering off. It’s like going to a Mets’ game wearing a shirt with “CHILCOTT” on the back.