June 1, 2010 by David Gillaspie
Every Olympic Games host country has a choice on which events to exclude. The London Olympics decided to cut baseball and softball.
Even Nancy Kerrigan asks, “Why, why, why?”
I’ll tell you why: It’s a rare Englishman, or woman, who can catch a ball.
I took two teenagers to England with an American football. They played catch on the beach, threw it in the park, and invited others to join in.
The others were English kids. The first tight spiral that came their way hit them in the face. They didn’t even knock the ball down to protect themselves. It was like they’d never seen a real football.
Turns out they acted like they had no clue because they had no clue.
Before I write another word, let’s agree on one thing; the English, as a whole, have outstanding manners. Very polite group with plenty of ‘excuse me’ and ‘pardon me’ and ‘yes please’ and ‘thank you very much.’
You can’t out-manner an Englishman.
But that doesn’t mean they need to let a ball ricochet off their forehead.
It does mean they need to practice their catching and throwing. While we’ve come a great distance from spearing our dinner, should we abandon the art involved, like throwing and catching?
Not in America.
Over here we throw a baseball. We throw a football. Imagine Roger Clemens all yoked up with a spear in one hand and a saber toothed cat in front of him. He’ll throw his spear clean through the cat. Brett Favre would kill the cat with the back draft from one of his missiles.
England could have learned more about throwing and catching if they’d kept baseball and softball in the Olympics. They already know how to kick, so soccer is safe.
As an act of international goodwill, I suggest a new game for the catch and throw challenged nations.
The rules are simple. It’s a soccer game where the players all wear baseball gloves. It’s played with two balls, a soccer ball and a baseball. In order to score, a player must have the baseball in their glove when they kick the soccer ball into the net.
The game strategy combines moving the soccer ball up the field like normal soccer along with throwing the baseball between players. If a forward player has both balls, they can score.
Some will say Cricket serves the throwing and catching needs of everyone interested. Really? Not when a guy takes a twenty yard run to whip a ball in at eighty miles an hour. That’s change-up speed in the major leagues.
Baseball and softball players around the world lose out on their Olympic dreams, but something greater is lost in England and the soccer playing world.
Think of that saber toothed cat. It is the menu item for the night, but first you have to kill it. No matter what kind of shoe a soccer player wears, they are going to lose some blood if they run at the cat and try to kick it into submission. The cat may be on the menu for the Englishman, but the Englishman is also on the cat’s menu. Soccer tactics will set that table.
We may not go back to hunting and gathering in the immediate future, but that doesn’t mean we should cast aside the skills that moved us beyond that time. Soccerball, the game, will re-introduce those skills.
How many times will it take getting a baseball bounced off a soccer player’s melon before they put their glove up? I’m guessing once ought to do it.