This is a simple game

Baseball. Like most English people I grew up thinking that baseball is basically rounders played by grown men who should know better. Like most English people I was completely ignorant of “British baseball” which clings on to a few clubs in Liverpool and a few more in the Vale of Glamorgan. But, like a few English people, it only took a couple of innings of one match (of the US version) and I was completely hooked. Incidentally, the image here apparently shows an 1874 baseball match between the Red Stockings and the Athletics at Lord’s .

My awakening coincided with two things: Channel 5 showing baseball through the night twice a week (and being a student I could watch) and the Chicago Cubs starting the season 0-14. Thus it was that I became a fan of the biggest bunch of losers in US sport. Losing the first dozen or so matches of a season was just a start – the Cubs, determined to continue a heroic streak of no World Series since 1908, no National League title since 1945, having managed to find new and interesting ways of failing every season. And we never speak of this.

But joining the tribe of baseball has its perks. You get to understand Bull Durham, Eight Men Out and Field of Dreams. And the old photos mean something. Such as this one of Frank Chance (of Tinker to Evers to Chance) taken in 1907 and available via the ever lovely Library of Congress on flickr.

But let’s leave this with the finest sporting film ever made … (NSFW):

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