Wait, it’s over already?
I was just about to get into this World Series but now it seems the Giants have gone and swept Detroit 4-0. I realize baseball is not my strongest suit, but I can’t quite believe I missed that entirely. My local team won the biggest prize in Major League Baseball and there’s me out pumpkin carving. Please, no one tell my managing editor; he might revoke my sports editor privileges.
Last year I made fun of a friend in these pages for worrying why Andrew Luck hadn’t yet found a job, even though the NFL Draft was still a few weeks away. Yesterday she paid the favor back, pointing out my own sporting knowledge deficiencies. You reap what you sow.
Worse, I should admit to a summer of procrastination. I meant to go to at least one baseball game or watch at least one from start to finish on TV. One hundred and sixty-two games rushed by, the playoffs really only crept into my consciousness since one of my other friends is a big Cardinals fan and just as I was thinking about trying to and meet up with friends in the city to watch–on TV of course–the Giants win the World Series on their return to AT&T Park, the season is over.
I now face six months of feeling guilty before I can apologize in the only way that really counts, actually showing up at either of the Bay Area’s two ballparks to enjoy a couple of hours of America’s national pastime.
However, though I know I’ll get some haters for saying this–no one likes a foreigner coming and telling you what’s wrong with the way you do things–I can’t quite help but feel it’s not entirely my fault.
I hate the way tied college soccer games end in the United States. First of all, teams have to play up to two periods of overtime to escape the dreaded draw, instead of embracing it. Secondly, and more infuriatingly, they play the golden-goal rule.
This sudden-death rule means that the first team to score wins the game immediately. There is no chance for the opposing players to get one back; the game simply ends.
All the built-up emotion and atmosphere in the stadium, the hopes and dreams of players and supporters, are both ignited and killed in one single second. That’s it, game over, no feeling that there could still be hope even as time is running out. Goodnight, goodbye, can someone turn the lights off on the way out?
The rule was intended to avert the lottery that is a penalty shootout, but the devastation of losing by golden goal was so bad that teams simply played more defensively, more scared of conceding than hopeful of scoring.
It was such an unpopular rule that the International Football Association Board (IFAB) stripped both it and its successor, the silver goal, from the Laws of the Game in 2004.
Yet here it persists. Maybe that points to some crucial difference between the American and British psyches, either that you actually like sudden death, or that it is simply a lesser evil compared with a tie.
I realize of course that the World Series isn’t exactly the same thing; that the only reason it ended up being sudden death for Detroit so early was due to the Tigers’ inability to win one game, just one single game, against the Giants. But it still seems just a little bit of a let down that San Francisco fans didn’t get to see their team one last time in their city.
If you disagree with me–as I suspect you do–maybe I should make it a little clearer where I’m coming from. Baseball’s international equivalent would probably be cricket and a sequence of games with about the same importance as the World Series would be the biannual Ashes series played between England and Australia. This consists of five Test matches that can last up to five days each, played in different grounds in one of the countries; the right to be host rotates every two years.
However, no part of the Ashes appears remotely like sudden death. If a team is too far behind in a match to win, it can just try to hold on until time expires and force a tie. And even if one team comes out and wins the first three games straight, clinching the title, the remaining games are still played. For nothing else but pure pride, regained pride of at least one victory in the face of defeat, or the pride of simply crushing the other team into the dirt.
Now who wouldn’t like to see the Giants completing its destruction of the Tigers 7-0 at AT&T on Thursday?
Tom Taylor’s editor has decided not to revoke his privileges after the wonderful showing FC Reading put on against Liverpool over the weekend. Email him congratulations for a real moral victory at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @DailyTomTaylor.