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Friday, July 29, 2011

L.A. Times: Welcome to zee old ballgame

Parisian teenagers take in a Dodgers game on their U.S. tour arranged by French-Jew’rney.

Selfless in ways even I don’t pretend to understand, I treat them to pretzels and red licorice and ask them how they like our little city.

“I prefer New York,” one of them says.


“I prefer Israel,” says another. “My second favorite place in zee world is California. The first is Jerusalem.”

So, maybe not so typical after all. They are all Parisians, sent over by French-Jew’rney, an organization that helps European teens experience American culture. Fairly well off, I assume from their pricey two-week vacation, though we never really discuss that.

What we discuss is baseball. Ever try to explain it to a foreigner?

“OK, that croissant down there, that’s first base,” I say.

“What’s ay dou-BELL?”

“That’s when they get two croissants.”

Tripon Posted: July 29, 2011 at 09:06 PM | 13 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: dodgers, international

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   1. Walt Davis Posted: July 30, 2011 at 01:54 AM (#3888771)

So explaining it to Italians would be easier because the bases would be ravioli plus they've got meatballs?
   2. Colonel Samuel B. Sternwheeler Posted: July 30, 2011 at 03:52 AM (#3888848)
Not so sure about meatballs. My mother was first generation Italian-American, and rarely made meatballs. Like, once a year. Something about stereotyping, plus they were, and are, a first class PITA to do well.
   3. Lassus Posted: July 30, 2011 at 04:10 AM (#3888854)
I hear meatballs, I think Sweden, not Italy.
   4. Dan Evensen Posted: July 30, 2011 at 06:46 AM (#3888900)
What is this I don't even
   5. Greg K Posted: July 30, 2011 at 07:54 AM (#3888905)
I remain convinced baseball would be one of the more difficult games to explain to someone totally unfamiliar with it. With hockey, football, soccer...the goal of the game seems intuitive. Put the ball/puck in the net/endzone. There are secondary rules like offside or what is and isn't legal (fouls, penalties) that might take some explaining, but basically even if you don't understand the strategy within minutes you can understand what's going on.

Baseball has so many rules that are intuitive if you think about it, but may not be right off the bat.
For intsance --
Why isn't a foul ball a hit?
Why isn't a foul ball strike three?
Why does the runner sometimes get tagged and sometimes not?
   6. Andere Richtingen Posted: July 30, 2011 at 11:18 AM (#3888929)
I remain convinced baseball would be one of the more difficult games to explain to someone totally unfamiliar with it.

I was in grad school when the Braves turned from pumpkins to princes, and a labmate of mine really got into it. At first, she had an almost complete lack of knowledge about how the game worked; there were several times watching games on tv, and then in person, where she asked basic questions like those. It was quite adorable. By the time the postseason came along, she was fairly well-versed and a rabid fan. She was at my place during the infamous Sid Bream run to win the NLCS, but was in the bathroom when it happened. She heard the yelling and came into the living room, and after seeing what she had missed, instructed me never to tell anyone that she was on the toilet when the big event happened. She could not accept not having viewed it live, and was going to fake it.
   7. Dr. Vaux Posted: July 30, 2011 at 02:32 PM (#3888958)
But now you just told us. Is that any way to keep a promise?

[tongue in cheek, in case it isn't obvious.]
   8. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: July 30, 2011 at 02:39 PM (#3888965)

That sounds like something South Park would make up.
   9. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: July 30, 2011 at 02:45 PM (#3888967)
“OK, that croissant down there, that’s first base,” I say.

I love it, only I might have used "lily pad" instead, and explained that the frogs jump from one pad to the next.



That sounds like something South Park would make up.

More likely it was lifted from Gilda Radner's SNL skit about "Soviet jewelry".
   10. Misirlou is too lofty, and grabs up all the light Posted: July 30, 2011 at 04:36 PM (#3889008)
Why does the runner sometimes get tagged and sometimes not?

This one. Hell, I still have to explain it to my 11-12 YO little leaguers. They merely step on the bag when it's a tag play. They get in a silly rundown when it's a force play. Drives me nuts.
   11. Zach Posted: July 30, 2011 at 06:12 PM (#3889052)
I remain convinced baseball would be one of the more difficult games to explain to someone totally unfamiliar with it.

In grad school, we successfully turned a lot of foreign students on to the game. It helps to play catch or even a little softball, so that they realize it's not as easy as the major leaguers make it look.

One thing that helps is that it's a very good ballpark experience. There's not much rowdyism compared to European soccer, and you can have a pretty pleasant experience even without knowing much about the game.
   12. Greg K Posted: July 30, 2011 at 06:27 PM (#3889056)
I've joined a baseball club in the UK and it's quite an experience being around people who are tremendous athletes, but don't really know baseball at all. We have a cricketer who picked up a baseball bat for the first time in his life two months ago, and is now leading the Midlands League in batting average. It's hard to wrap my head around giving pointers to someone who is a million times better at baseball than I'll ever be.
   13. TerpNats Posted: July 30, 2011 at 06:43 PM (#3889064)
This reminds of how MLB tried to promote the game internationally following the 1993 sending Len Dykstra to Europe. (Hey, I'm thankful the euro wasn't around yet; with the "Dude" getting involved in European finances, all of the continent might now be like Greece.)

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