More than that, I thoroughly enjoyed it and I started to wonder why baseball fans don’t enjoy it more. Both sports tend to end in low-scoring affairs. There are some matches that get blown wide open but for the most part, there are a lot of near misses and defensive stand-offs.
Both sports require an intelligent caretaker. Yes, you need to have the right personnel to execute the coach’s plan but management is integral to the two games. When a goal is scored in soccer, the ESPN highlight tends to show only the moment itself. But that moment is usually the culmination of several minutes of slowly building action. A good manager notices where the weaknesses are and then has his team exploit those advantages.
It’s not really all that much different than a baseball manager noticing the opposing pitcher taking a little bit longer in his windup and sending a guy who isn’t much of a base stealer because that extra half second might be all he needs. We all know that a guy at second base is a much bigger threat than a guy on first and a soccer player knows that a corner kick is a much bigger threat than a throw in from the sideline.
So much of baseball and soccer is based on a patient strategy being slowly implemented. Pitchers set up batters during early at-bats just like strikers set up defenders during early runs.
I’m amazed when people tell me how they think baseball is boring. They tell me they don’t understand the rules and they don’t know how people can sit there and watch it. Any baseball fan will tell you that every game has a hundred different little dramatic moments. And likewise I’m amazed when a baseball fan tells me they don’t understand soccer and that it’s boring to watch. The rules may be different but the drama and the intensity are completely on par.
With the exception of Mexico, the baseball playing world and the soccer playing world exist in two very different spheres. But it’s time we move beyond that silliness. Who knows, maybe I’ll even wear my team USA jersey this weekend when I go watch Strasburg pitch. USA! USA! USA!!!