Why “Ann Coulter” would love cricket

by Harry on July 18, 2014

Somehow I saw this rather lame attempt to parody Ann Coulter yesterday. I don’t mind football, I’ve even come to enjoy watching it a bit as a result of my daughter’s enthusiasm, but I do enjoy the odd rant against it, and have always found it funny that Americans assume that because of my accent I have a favorite team and know the offside rule (I don’t have a favorite team, but I do know the offside rule, though my knowing it is rather like my ability to recall the entire cast of the Love Boat, the result of an unhealthy tendency to remember entirely unimportant things that I don’t care about).

So here are “Coulter”‘s objections to football (many of which, btw, suggest “she” has never seen a game), with responses providing evidence that the article is, in fact, an attempt by Geoffrey Boycott to popularize cricket among American conservatives:

1. Individual achievement is not a big factor in soccer. In a real sport, players fumble passes, throw bricks and drop fly balls — all in front of a crowd. When baseball players strike out, they’re standing alone at the plate. But there’s also individual glory in home runs, touchdowns and slam-dunks.

Cricket: wickets, sixes, fours, catches, run–outs; long hops, dropped catches, hit wicket, Alastair Cook’s current form. Anyway, the perfect balance between teamwork and individual achievement/failure.

2. No serious sport is co-ed, even at the kindergarten level.

Cricket isn’t co-ed (whatever that means).

3. No other “sport” ends in as many scoreless ties as soccer.

Cricket: No scoreless ties. On this count cricket is superior to all “American” sports, because even scored ties are almost impossible, and are the most thrilling games of all (33 first class ties since 1948, worldwide). If scoring is what you care about, cricket beats all other sports hands down: the 1st test between India and England last week yielded 1342 runs and 29 wickets!

4. The prospect of either personal humiliation or major injury is required to count as a sport…Baseball and basketball present a constant threat of personal disgrace [sic: I assume from context she means danger — ed]. In hockey, there are three or four fights a game — and it’s not a stroll on beach to be on ice with a puck flying around at 100 miles per hour.

Cricket: The ball is smaller than, and heavier than, a baseball, and it (normally) hits the ground before reaching the batsman: 85-90 miles an hour are not uncommon speeds. The fielders routinely catch the ball at similar speeds. Oh, and none of this wimpy “mitt” business. Bare hands. Sometimes just a few feet away from where the ball is hit. . Oh, and Ewen Chatfield.

5. You can’t use your hands in soccer. (Thus eliminating the danger of having to catch a fly ball.) What sets man apart from the lesser beasts, besides a soul, is that we have opposable thumbs.

Cricket: plenty of hands (bowling, catching (see above), holding bats, etc)

6. The number of New York Times articles claiming soccer is “catching on” is exceeded only by the ones pretending women’s basketball is fascinating. I note that we don’t have to be endlessly told how exciting football is.

Cricket: NOBODY is telling you how exciting cricket is, or that it is catching on. [NOTE: in fact we are being constantly told how exciting “football” is: it’s constantly marketed, and, incidentally, talent-development is achieved mainly through huge public subsidies in the form of funding for public high school athletic directors, football fields, uniforms, and coaches; at a cost to the actual education of kids in those high schools (not just the opportunity cost of the funds but, worse, principals who knowingly hire incompetent social studies and science teachers because they will be good coaches).]

7. It’s foreign.

Cricket: its existence in the US predates both American Football and Baseball. The first official international cricket match was an all-North American affair, and took place in New York. Cricket was, in the 1840s and 1850s “by far the biggest sport in the USA”.
Oh, also, one of the two greatest books about cricket,Anyone But England: Cricket and the National Malaise, is by a North American Marxist; and the other, Beyond a Boundary, is by a Marxist who lived in the US for 15 years (before, admittedly, being deported).

8. Soccer is like the metric system, which liberals also adore because it’s European. Naturally, the metric system emerged from the French Revolution, during the brief intervals when they weren’t committing mass murder by guillotine.

Cricket: Actually, I didn’t understand this point, it just seemed like a random stringing together of words, but, whatever cricket is like, it is not like the metric system.

9. Soccer is not “catching on.” Headlines this week proclaimed “Record U.S. ratings for World Cup,” and we had to hear — again — about the “growing popularity of soccer in the United States.”

Cricket: Nobody is telling you that cricket is “catching on”. But it is.



Quite Likely 07.18.14 at 2:54 pm

My favorite part of Coulter’s rant is how mad she is that people tell her that soccer is catching on. It’s not that she doesn’t believe them (I think) it’s just that she wishes everyone would ignore it.


Trader Joe 07.18.14 at 3:03 pm

I’d call it a lame effort at a back foot shot, but she was bowled for a duck instead.

We all know she’s nothing but an off spinner that doesn’t know a slip from a silly point. We should get a good nightswatchman to blast her into the gully before she opens her gob for more silly nanny.



Joshua W. Burton 07.18.14 at 3:52 pm

Lord Dunsany, in the 4th book of Jorkens:

‘I made a cricket problem once,’ said Jorkens. ‘Only one, mind you. But it is not a thing you can do every day. It went like this: there’s two to win, and the last two men are in. The other side have a very fast bowler, and a ball catches the batsman on the inside of the knee, and drops him and he can’t get up. There’s a nerve there, you know. But the ball goes away off his knee through the slips, and is good for four if he could run it. But he can’t. He has fallen just outside his crease, and of course he can roll back all right, in fact he can reach the crease with his bat. But he can’t run. That is the situation. And it’s White to play and win.’

‘What do you mean?’ asked one or two of us.

‘Well, of course in cricket both sides wear white,’ said Jorkens. ‘But that’s how one would put it at chess. What I mean is, it’s the batting side to win the match off this ball that has gone through the slips for four, if you can only run it, or even run two of them.’

No cheating by looking it up, please.


Adam Bradley 07.18.14 at 4:11 pm

whatever cricket is like, it is not like the metric system.

They’re both popular in Old Europe, but haven’t caught on in the US despite all the liberals telling us how awesome they are.

At least I think that’s what she was getting at.


nick s 07.18.14 at 4:19 pm

Cricket was, in the 1840s and 1850s “by far the biggest sport in the USA”.

Cricket’s popularity in the United States was mainly curtailed by the War of Northern Aggression, and thus we can see in that shameful attack on states’ rights an insidious goal: to undermine the position of cricket. It is time to restore America’s True Pastime to its rightful place.


Mike Schilling 07.18.14 at 4:35 pm

As misogynist as Coulter is, she’d have to enjoy a sport where one of the main goals is to bowl a maiden over.


roger gathman 07.18.14 at 5:25 pm

Coulter has Kim Kardashian’s sense of how to get the attention of a mass audience. Kardashian is a much more sympathetic figure, of course – Coulter’s random shooting at liberals is a sport that reached its peak, I think, in 2001. But still, I think this is her sport, not cricket, football, or anything else.
The random shooting at liberal ranks to my mind go like this”
1. Rush Limbaugh – undisputed king.
2. Bill O’reilly – year after year, BO comes through – but he has never been able to break through Limbaugh’s lock on the league
3. Ann Coulter – Ann labors under the disadvantage that she is a freelancer. But she definitely overthrew what’s her name, the woman who wrote that the Japanese should have been interned in WWII – who was number 3 for a number of years in the 00s – to retain her place. What’s her name is now like 10 or something. Much below Sarah Palin.
4. Laura Ingraham or perhaps I got the last name wrong. Ingrahaham? Her being able to put Brat over Cantor put her here, I think. She’s really breaking out of the pack of talking head lookalikes.
5, Sarah Palin. Notice that I haven’t listed Glenn Beck. He even climbed briefly to 2 at a certain point – say 2008-2009 – but his ability to stir up massive flame wars with libs seems to have gone out.


Igor Belanov 07.18.14 at 5:38 pm

I’m sure I read somewhere that US sports fans love statistics, and what game has more statistics than cricket? Averages for runs per wickets, runs per over, runs per ball, runs and wickets taken in test matches, one-day games, 20-20 matches, first-class encounters, etc. The stats freaks would be salivating!


Captain Bringdown 07.18.14 at 5:56 pm

Cricket: No scoreless ties. On this count cricket is superior to all “American” sports, because even scored ties are almost impossible, …

Ties in baseball are quite nearly as rare as hen’s teeth and they only occur in very, very unusual circumstances.


Philip 07.18.14 at 6:49 pm

There are two main difficulties for cricket to spread to America, firstly the time and effort needed to maintain a grass wicket and secondly a game can last five days then no one wins (there is a difference between a tie and a draw in cricket). One day games and 20/20 would be good formats to introduce to avoid the second problem but the first problem is a bit of a catch 22.


K. Benton 07.18.14 at 7:04 pm

My favorite part of her rant is the fun dig against the metric system… nothing beats the good ‘ol ‘Merican “Imperial” System. What a laughable fool. Though it’d be more so if I didn’t know so many people actually do think like her.

I’m also a fan of “It’s foreign.” of course. At least she’s honest I guess? And needless to say, the U.S.’s most popular sports aren’t the ones all those immigrants brought, but those we adapted from the Sioux and Iroquois… er… oh.

That said, I’m all for cricket to make it’s way over here… it’d force me to finally understand how the hell it works.


martinmc 07.18.14 at 8:08 pm

Cricket: Actually, I didn’t understand this point, it just seemed like a random stringing together of words,

the distinguishing trait of any Ann Coulter column


js. 07.18.14 at 8:11 pm

Ties in baseball are quite nearly as rare as hen’s teeth and they only occur in very, very unusual circumstances.

That’s just because they don’t end the damn game when they should! It’s like if cricket still had timeless tests!

Anyway, this was great. Especially loved this bit:

the 1st test between India and England last week yielded 1342 runs and 29 wickets!

This is precisely the kind of thing that leads to amazed head-scratching when I try to explain cricket to my American friends. (Also of course the fact that this happened over five days.)


Igor Belanov 07.18.14 at 8:51 pm

For the theme of cricket, the US (and Holland) see Joseph O’Neill’s ‘Netherland’.


Andrew Smith 07.18.14 at 8:54 pm

I think the Coulter piece was taking the piss; it’s obviously a parody of an argument against soccer. Not even she is actually that crazy.


Limericky Dicky 07.18.14 at 8:59 pm

A short run’s no solitary beast: start from crease; then fall short; end in crease. So the fit guy runs four and the chap on the floor need incur just a 2-run decrease.

*This resolves the cricket poser. I had help though (full disclosure). But – to forstall any slander – not to cheat like Alexander. My confession’s just this clause: with this I confirmed the Laws.


Limericky Dicky 07.18.14 at 9:00 pm



TM 07.18.14 at 9:10 pm

I would love for somebody in this forum to explain Cricket the the rest of us. For starters, what IS the difference between a draw and a tie?


Joshua W. Burton 07.18.14 at 9:21 pm

LD @15: yes. Here’s the rest of it, in Dunsany’s words:

‘Yes, there is a nerve there,’ said someone. ‘If a fast one got you there, you’d be pretty completely paralysed for a while, so far as that leg was concerned. The right leg, I suppose.’

‘Yes, the right leg,’ said Jorkens.

‘Why not hop it on the left?’ said another.

‘No,’ said Jorkens; ‘You couldn’t hop two runs on one foot while there was only time to run four in the ordinary way, especially when you would have had to have scrambled up off the ground before you got started.’

‘Well,’ said Terbut, ‘it simply can’t be done.’

‘If there’s no solution,’ said Jorkens, ‘it’s not a problem at all. But if it can be done, it seems a problem all right to me, because you can none of you get it.’

A curious silence fell on the Club…. I don’t know how long we sat without speaking.
‘The other batsman might carry him for two runs,’ said one of the cricketers.

‘No,’ said Jorkens, ‘because he would have to do one run before he got to him and one more to get back to his own wicket afterwards; so that he would have to run four altogether, two of them carrying a man, in the time that, as my problem states, was only enough for four ordinary runs without any such handicaps.’

Terbut repeated monotonously, ‘It simply can’t be done.’

‘Do you give it up?’

I think the rest of us looked as if we should like to hear.

‘They just ran the two runs,’ said Jorkens.

‘I thought you said he couldn’t move,’ said Terbut.

‘He didn’t move,’ answered Jorkens. ‘He pushed back his bat when he fell, and put it inside the crease; and when the other man came up to him he lifted it. The two batsmen crossed, and the other man ran back. And that happened twice. The man on his legs ran four runs, and the man lying down lifted his bat from the crease twice and returned to it. Of course he didn’t get to the other end, so that his first run was a short run. But he got back all right: he had only an inch to go. His third run was a short one too, by very nearly twenty yards, but the distance of a short run doesn’t matter, so long as it’s short; and he got back again when he put his bat down. Four runs and two short is, you see, two runs, which just won the match.’

‘I thought it was something like that,’ grumbled Terbut.

‘Ah, but you see,’ said Jorkens, ‘you didn’t think it quick enough.’


Joshua W. Burton 07.18.14 at 9:29 pm

Law 18 has since been revised,
Leaving Dunsany’s heroes surprised.
A deliberate short
Makes a mock of the sport
And a dead ball, so please be advised.


Layman 07.18.14 at 9:29 pm

A tie is the cae where both teams complete their innings and have the same number if total runs. A draw is the case where one (or both) teams do not complete their innings in the allotted time. The latter is much more common than the former.

A 5-day test lasts five days. Each side has two innings. Both sides must complete both innings for the match to count(*). Otherwise it’s a draw.

(*) Like baseball, the final innings may be superfluous, in that if the side which is to bat in the final innings already has the lead in runs, the match ends early with that side of course winning.


harry b 07.18.14 at 9:40 pm

In first class cricket its only a tie if the scores are equal and all 10 wickets have fallen in the final innings.


Neil Levy 07.18.14 at 9:44 pm

What Harry’s not telling you is cricket is not catching on. It’s dying, killed by corruption, inept administrators and the rise of a shortened version every bit as parodic as anything dreamed up by Coulter.

Let me be the first to ask: why the quotation marks, Harry?


TheSophist 07.18.14 at 9:51 pm

I’m not quite sure how explanatory the explanations have been, so let me take a crack:

In a test match, each side has two innings. An innings ends (usually) when ten wickets have fallen (=ten guys/gals have got out). Let us suppose that in their first innings India scores 500, and in their second 300. In their first innings England score 400, and in their second they have also scored exactly 400 when the last wicket falls. This is a tie, and, as noted above, very rare.

Now let’s assume again India 500+300, and England 400 in their first innings. Then let’s give England 350/5 (350 runs scored, 5 wickets have fallen) when time runs out. (Yes, the game is scheduled for 5 days, but time does frequently run out.) Now England can’t be the winners, because they’ve scored fewer runs than India, but neither can India, because they haven’t bowled England out a second time. Hence a draw.


dfphil 07.18.14 at 9:52 pm

Is there any distinction between “parody” and “not parody” with Ann Coulter? I can’t imagine that she cares whether people reading her think she is joking or serious; utterly beside the point of her words.


TheSophist 07.18.14 at 9:54 pm

I realize that Ann Coulter would probably prefer it if India were called The Redskins, in order to properly honor and respect the Native Nations, but for some reason they aren’t.


Joshua W. Burton 07.18.14 at 10:12 pm

The Redskins

Off-topic, but this thread deserves it if any does. Does anyone understand why the Washington Redskins get no end of grief for having a potato (I assume) as a mascot, while the Jacksonville Jaguars are named for an actual mass murderer and get away with it smiling?

For that matter, if you wanted to improve the racial tone of the NFC East, with particular sensitivity to the history and demographics of the US capital, which single change would you aim for: the Washington Heroes, or the Adams Redskins?


GiT 07.19.14 at 4:32 am

Jacksonville is named after an actual mass murderer; the Jacksonville Jaguars are named after a large cat, who arguably doesn’t have the mens rea to be a murderer.


js. 07.19.14 at 5:19 am

TheSophist’s explanation is very good. One other thing people tend to find useful: In cricket, unlike in baseball, you can simply leave a ball (if it’s not aimed at the wicket) or block it (if it is), and you don’t have to run. There’s no “walking” either. Plus, what would be a home run in baseball is 6 runs (or maybe 4–bit complicated this, depends whether it touches the ground before it goes out of the field of play), and in effect, making a base (is that what it’s called?) counts as a run. So: the runs accumulate fast (ish) and the wickets (outs) are hard to come by. (The first part, being able to leave or block a ball is way more important than the quirks of scoring, I think.)


Meredith 07.19.14 at 5:33 am

Something called baseball has been around in the US since before the 1840’s cricket reference. From wikipedia (the Pittsfield, MA page):

“In 2004, historian John Thorn discovered a reference to a 1791 by-law prohibiting anyone from playing “baseball” within 80 yards (73 m) of the new meeting house in Pittsfield. A reference librarian, AnnMarie Harris, found the actual by-law in the Berkshire Athenaeum library, and its age was verified by researchers at the Williamstown Art Conservation Center. If authentic and if actually referring to a recognizable version of the modern game, the 1791 document, would be, as of 2004, the earliest known reference to the game in America. (See Origins of baseball.) The document is available on the Pittsfield Library’s web site.[11] The so-called Broken Window By-Law is the earliest known reference to “baseball” in North America.”

Probably some version of rounders? To which (or to like games) cricket must also be related. I mean, cricket must have a history, not just be a state of nature. (Pittsfield has a history. You can visit that “meeting house” today, though its been rebuilt since. And “the Commons” is the center of an inconvenient sort of roundabout.)

There are two secrets to baseball’s abiding (if diminishing) popularity here in the US: it’s a game wonderful to follow on the radio (can cricket say that? I really don’t know), and it speaks the language of nostos, of the journey away from home (plate), with hazards all along the way as you seek to return home, enriched and enriching (those bases being like little safety spots in a children’s game of “poison” — and the hazards are also children’s games, like tag, or like hide-and-seek, where you have to get “home” before whoever– we take turns (innings!) is protecting that base), and if you make it home, you’re greeted as a hero, but you’re not the same anymore, nor are the people greeting you, because we and you have been through so much in your absence (all that mutual longing, that pothos), and now you’ve got one more run for all of us! Also like children: baseball players jump up and down when they’re happy. And they play in “parks” within cities on fields. Industrial age nostalgia for the farm. And baseball is usually slow (waiting for that one moment of explosive athleticism), so the spectators/auditors gets to chat or buy hotdogs and beer or go to the bathroom or turn down the sound as they open the window to pay the toll without too much fear of missing anything, in most situations. Btw, at American ballparks, when the vendor comes around the stands with his (always HIS — I have NEVER seen a HER — Harrumph! I mean, we have had bat girls for decades now…) hotdogs, beer, cotton candy, popcorn, you pass your money down the row, and the change and food are passed back. I’m talking, like, the Bronx or Queens today, not Innocent Iowa Town (of cornfield heaven lore). Does this happen in other games? (Here in rural MA, some farmers still leave their fruits, scales, and cashbox out, unattended — same principle.)

I guess I’m saying, each sport has its history, its rhetorical frame(s — things change over time), its devoted worlds. In the US, soccer has been played in places where talent might be spotted and developed almost entirely in middle-to upper-middle class environments that are not likely to produce many great players who actually commit themselves to the sport. Maybe one day that world will link up with our Latino/a world (among others) and produce formidable soccer (as opposed to a few great players).

Meanwhile, in New Canaan, CT, whence Ann Coulter basically comes: I wonder how that fabulously rich NYC suburb of soccer moms and dads respond to her denunciation of soccer as unAmerican?

I refrain from the “Who’s on First” links. No, I don’t!


Mike Schilling 07.19.14 at 6:12 am

what’s her name, the woman who wrote that the Japanese should have been interned in WWII

Michelle Malkin, whose parents are both from the Philippines and lived under the Japanese occupation there. But in the US we can’t tell one sort of Asian from another, so she got the response “Look, even a fellow Asian thinks the internment was justified” rather than the more sensible “Well of course she dislikes the Japanese.”


godoggo 07.19.14 at 7:26 am

Just thought I’d do the following google search:
site:.ph “michelle malkin”

This mainly brings 2 kinds of results: stuff she wrote and Filipinos talking about how they don’t like her. fwiw


godoggo 07.19.14 at 7:44 am

Speaking of which, I once went to a cockfight in Manilla, and I seem to recall people betting by tossing wads of cash to and from the stage. Something Meredith said reminded me of that.


marek 07.19.14 at 11:48 am

it’s a game wonderful to follow on the radio (can cricket say that? I really don’t know

Cricket on the radio is an art form of its own, for three reasons which immediately come to mind.

First, the vocabulary is deeply esoteric, but remarkably precise. Once you know the difference between a fly slip and a short third man, you don’t need pictures to know what’s going on – this wikipedia chart of fielding positions gives a sense of the insane richness of it all.*

Secondly, cricket is a game of long pauses. The field reverses every over (= six balls), which takes a couple of minutes, and it must be the only professional game with lunch breaks and tea breaks. So there is plenty of time for the radio commentary to take on a life of its own. And that links to the third reason, which is that there is a long tradition of deeply professional but gloriously eccentric radio commentary, which television has never come close to matching (television both takes cricket far too seriously and not nearly seriously enough). Where possible, many people will still watch television with the sound turned down and listen to the radio commentary.

*Note that there are only 11 on the fielding team, of whom one is bowling and one is the wicket keeper. So there are nine on the field occupying a subset of those positions at any given moment – tactics and strategy on placing fielders – taking account of the characteristics of the bowler, the batsman, the ball, the light, and the ground – are critical to success.


matt w 07.19.14 at 12:24 pm

js@29: what would be a home run in baseball is 6 runs (or maybe 4–bit complicated this, depends whether it touches the ground before it goes out of the field of play)

The qualification isn’t actually necessary — in baseball, if the ball touches the ground before leaving the field of play it’s not a home run. So what would be a home run in baseball is 6 runs, and what would be a ground-rule double* in baseball is 4 runs.

*Technically a book-rule double; “ground rule double” literally refers to doubles that are so because of the ground rules for the specific stadium, for instance that a ball that gets stuck under the tarp or fence in Angel Stadium is a double. But everyone calls fair balls that bounce over the fence ground rule doubles.


Teachable Mo' 07.19.14 at 2:21 pm

Neymar Jr. had his back broken during the World Cup. And several other players were injured out of the competition.

During the finals, Gonzalo Huigan’s missed chances will be the stuff of legend like Mighty Casey striking out.

Coulter would be talking through her hat if she wore a hat.


Harry 07.19.14 at 2:28 pm

marek’s right that radio commentary is an art form — on the ground itself you’ll find half the crowd listening on transistor radios. I can now have to rely television coverage — and the TV commentary has improved a lot since the many years ago that I used to watch — Bumble, in particular, seems to drive the mood and balance of seriousness to silliness. But I’d sooner listen to Test Match Special which is blocked in the US. Does anyone know how I can listen to TMS?


Layman 07.19.14 at 3:38 pm


TheSophist 07.19.14 at 3:47 pm

Harry –

I’m watching England/India on cricinfo as I write this (in Phoenix, if that matters), with Bumble (the affectionate nickname for England batsman turned commentator David Lloyd) and co in full voice It’s not TMS, but it’s close. Cricinfo doesn’t have live visuals of every test series (I was rather surprised when I first discovered England-India), but we’ve lucked out this summer.

I very much agree with js that a key to understanding cricket is that you don’t have to run. I always start my explanation of cricket to Americans with “Imagine how baseball would change if you hit a ground ball to the shortstop and just stayed at home plate, and he couldn’t throw you out. Also, I can’t help thinking that the whole fielding shifts thing that is all the rage in baseball this year would have happened years ago if baseball executives had ever watched a cricket game.


Steve Williams 07.19.14 at 6:33 pm


“Just thought I’d do the following google search:
site:.ph “michelle malkin”

This mainly brings 2 kinds of results: stuff she wrote and Filipinos talking about how they don’t like her. fwiw”

I remember being very surprised, when on holiday in Manila, that Fox News was on the TV there. I haven’t seen it elsewhere in Asia, though I’m sure there are places.


Steve Williams 07.19.14 at 6:34 pm

Forgot to put that second para of godoggo’s in separate italics – apologies.


Steve Williams 07.19.14 at 6:46 pm

Joshua W Burton@27

“Does anyone understand why the Washington Redskins get no end of grief for having a potato (I assume) as a mascot, while the Jacksonville Jaguars are named for an actual mass murderer and get away with it smiling?”

There are two short answers, which are that the Jaguars are named after an animal and a city, not a person, and that in any case it’s easier to force a name change for a sports franchise than a municipality.

As regarding why the Washington Racist-names ‘get no end of grief’, here’s Alex Pareene:

‘When George Marshall bought the team in 1932, they were called the Boston Braves. He changed the name — to a slur, because he was a racist — and moved them to Washington. He made “Dixie” one of the team’s fight songs and refused to hire black players well into the 1960s. The NFL integrated in 1946 but Marshall’s team held out until the federal government actually forced them to field black players in 1963. The all-white Washington teams of the 1950s and 1960s were among the worst in the league, but segregation was more important to Marshall than winning football games. The NFL had actually already been racially integrated until black players were suddenly banned in 1933. Interviews with owners suggest that Marshall was responsible for the ban.’

There is a fairly strong argument that no sports franchises should be named after parts of Native American culture, but the case of the Racist-names is more clear cut than most. Marshall knew exactly what he was doing, and it’s long past time to put this historical wrong right.


nick s 07.19.14 at 7:44 pm

I’d sooner listen to Test Match Special which is blocked in the US. Does anyone know how I can listen to TMS?

A VPN. TMS was unblocked for the Sri Lanka series, but tedious rights issues apply for the Indian one.

I disagree about TV coverage: the automatic elevation of every England captain into the Sky commentary box means that you’re more likely to have Atherton, Vaughan and Botham po-facedly one-upping themselves. Like marek says, television forgets that cricket is a distraction within a distraction, while radio at its best embraces it. (Strauss’s hot mic description of Pietersen was the first interesting thing he’d said since moving upstairs.)


Harry 07.19.14 at 8:08 pm

I agree about Strauss and Vaughn (though I like the sound of Strauss’s voice). But Atherton really knows the game, and is genuinely interesting; and Botham is fine — and all of them are ok when partnering Bumble.


Joshua W. Burton 07.20.14 at 3:59 am

Steve Williams @42: Yes, of course was clear on the short answer — I thought the “potato” part would sufficiently telegraph that I was being whimsical, but I guess not. Anyway, for the record, I’m in favor of changing Redskins, Jacksonville and Washington to more suitable names. I’m grateful for the backstory about George Preston Marshall, which is even worse than I’d thought; as a footnote, it turns out that “Lone Star” Dietz comes out pretty badly as well.


Meredith 07.20.14 at 5:33 am

I am so deeply envious of those who can listen on the radio and watch on the TV. For me (trying to listen to John and Susan call Yankees games on the radio, v. whatever TV station is carrying the game), the two are always so out of sync that it’s unbearable.

I like the Phillies simply because (well, there’s also the wisdom of the National Leagues’ not having the DH) a million years ago when I was driving in w. NJ I heard great radio coverage. I like several other teams for similar reasons (Twins, Cleveland Indians — is Indians OK? I dunno. I’d like to hear from the Indians. Redskins is reprehensible.). Gotta say, as a NYY fan in MA (there are lots of us, which is interesting), that NYY/Red Sox games are happening, it’s a pleasure to listen to Boston coverage. They are good. Really good. Which is why the Union is strong.

The idea of a shortstop not being able to throw you out (Jeter not leaping and throwing?) may be the nub of the difference between baseball and cricket.


Tony Lynch 07.20.14 at 8:45 am

Cricket is a beautiful, glorious, waste of time.


Collin Street 07.20.14 at 8:54 am

I’m in favor of changing Redskins

Washington Redstaters, to commemorate the people who made the US what it is today.


Minnow 07.21.14 at 8:47 am

“What Harry’s not telling you is cricket is not catching on. It’s dying”

Yes, it’s dying like the novel is dying. Both have been in their death throes all my life and I expect them to be vigorously kicking the bucket at the end too.


TM 07.21.14 at 8:43 pm

Reading your explanations (21 and others) is just the same as reading a foreign language. Thanks anyway (I didn’t really expect to ever understand Cricket).

The most fascinating part I guess is “A 5-day test lasts five days”. How is it possible in any sport to play a game for days? How do players and spectators find the time? It sounds so romantic, pre-industrial, pre-capitalist, how does such a sport survive at all?


TheSophist 07.21.14 at 10:29 pm

TM: 5-day tests are played only between national sides, and hence between reasonably well-renumerated professionals (these days). Much more common at lower levels are “one-day games’ in which each side has a maximum of (usually) 50 overs (an over is a series of 6 balls bowled) to score as many runs as possible. (Imagine if baseball was “one side bats for (eg)90 consecutive pitches and scores as many runs as possible, then the other side does the same”.)

More recently we have had the introduction of T20 cricket (20 overs/side), which is either, or both, of the savior of the game or the proof that the barbarians are at the gate and the apocalypse is nigh, depending on your viewpoint. I’ve shown T20 games to US high school classes, and they’ve absolutely loved it.

Purists will, of course, argue that nothing beats test cricket. Earlier this summer England’s Jimmy Anderson set an all-time record for the longest “duck” (innings without scoring a run) and, slightly counterintuitively, it was incredibly exciting, as he fought a desperate rearguard action that came excrutiatingly close to saving a match that should by rights have been dead lost.


jkay 07.21.14 at 10:49 pm

But, cricket’s the BORINGEST and most aristocratic sport ever invented. So why, again?


Layman 07.21.14 at 11:00 pm

TM, it’s really simpler than it seems.

One side is ‘up’ first, like in baseball. A side is 11 people, and they will bat until 10 of them are out. 2 batters are ‘up’ at a time, at each wicket – the wicket is like home base. The team bowling (pitching) bowls 6 balls to the batter standing at one wicket (an ‘over’), and then bowls 6 balls to the batter at the other end. The batter tries to hit the ball, or lets it go. If he hits it, he may choose to run or not. If he chooses to run, the other batter must also run. They run past each other to the opposite wicket. If the do, that’s 1 run. They may try for more runs on the hit, and certain hits which reach the field boundary produce mandatory numbers of runs, like a home run in baseball.

How do they get out? If they hit the ball in the air, and it is caught before it bounces, they’re out. If a bowled ball strikes the wicket behind the batter (because they swung & missed, or let it pass, or tipped it), the batter is out. If a fielder hits the wicket with the ball, by throwing it or touching it, while the batter us running between the wickets, the batter running toward that wicket is out – as if thrown out at the base in baseball.

When one side is out, the other side gets their innings. Repeat, and there’s your 5 day test. I left out tea breaks and lunch, so as not to complicate things.


TM 07.22.14 at 5:07 pm

Hilarious. Why is it called a “test” game?


Layman 07.22.14 at 8:33 pm

I think ‘test’ was just an early form of ‘match’ or ‘contest’, but I don’t know.

I forgot my favorite way if getting out, leg-before-wicket, abbreviated LBW. Understand that the bowler is udeally trying to bowl the ball past the batter and hit the wicket. This would be similar to a strike in baseball, except if it succeeded the batter would be out immediately. The batter in turn is trying primarily to protect the wicket, and only secondarily trying to score runs. But the batter may only block the ball with the bat, not with his body. The wicket is about thigh-high, so only the legs are in a position to block it. If the ball strikes the batter’s leg without striking the bat first, and in the opinion of the umpire the ball would have struck the wicket if not for the leg, the batter is called out for leg-before-wicket. Whenever a ball strikes any batter’s leg, the bowler will plead furiously for the LBW.


Layman 07.22.14 at 8:34 pm

Did I mention I hate my iPad’s keyboard and correction software? Sorry for the typos!


Eric H 07.23.14 at 1:45 am

From Le Wik, but a bit of trivia I gleaned from Alder’s excellent The Measure of All Things:

“Although the constitution gave the authority to dictate standards of measure to Congress, it was not until 1832 that the customary system of units was formalized. In the early 19th century, the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey (the government’s surveying and map-making agency) used meter and kilogram standards brought from France. In 1866, Congress authorized the use of the metric system and supplied each state with a set of standard metric weights and measures. In 1875, the United States solidified its commitment to the development of the internationally recognized metric system by becoming one of the original seventeen signatory nations to the Metre Convention or the Treaty of the Metre.”

File under, “old, and therefore [should be] good”. Should we tell Ann? Also, excellent points in OP, she doesn’t know anything about footie and should by her own standards enjoy cricket along with the dozens of fans. Also, #25.


aretino 07.23.14 at 2:43 am

@19 It took we a while to get over thinking the answer was that running a boundary is unnecessary.

@53 Declaring is another delightful part of test cricket.


Trivial 07.23.14 at 3:57 am

@57 Agreed, but to clarify: Congressional accounts and acts from 1789-1811 measured imports and exports in pounds, gallons, etc.


Meredith 07.23.14 at 4:58 am

The Yankees beat Texas tonight in extra innings. (Yeah!) Do they have extra innings in cricket?
How can a game (baseball) that is “perfect” when no one on one side ever makes it to a base (and in such games, the other side usually scores only a run or two — that is, even the losing side plays incredibly well) be the close kin of cricket, with its high scores? And they are close kin. There’s something to ponder there.


TM 07.23.14 at 7:49 pm

Leg-before-wicket! I love it! This I can even picture.

Has anyone seen this cartoon:

How to make soccer a popular sport!



Philip 07.23.14 at 10:05 pm

@TheSophist, professional club sides will play 4 day games, these are mainly watched at weekends and by pensioners during the week. Though the County game wouldn’t survive without money coming in from the TV rights for the international matches.


Gordon Finlayson 07.24.14 at 3:48 am

1. Download Chrome, if you don’t have it as your default browser. 2. Download the add on called Hola. https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/hola-better-internet/gkojfkhlekighikafcpjkiklfbnlmeio?hl=en 3. Set oHla to UK. 4. Go to BBC Five Live Sports Extra. http://www.bbc.co.uk/5livesportsextra 5. Click on On Air now. Viola TMS. Incidentally you can use that to access BBC Iplayer from the US and the converse trick for getting ITunes US when you are in the UK.

Incidentally, I don’t understand why you are a fan of Boycott. OK I’m too young to have seen him in his pomp, though I aw his 100th 100. OK he had a beautiful straight drive. And never gave his wicket away. And I know he was the best batter of his generation, facing probably the best bowling attacks ever – Lillee and Thomson, and the Windies. But in spite of all that he was an utterly selfish player, notorious for running out other batsman. And whatever the match situation, he would concentrate on keeping his wicket. He’d only ever bat for his average. That is an awful characteristic in a team sport.

Anyway, enjoy TMS.



Philip 07.24.14 at 6:12 pm

Gordo, he has now criticised Cook for being too stubborn for not standing down as captain, definitely a pot and kettle situation.



Layman 07.24.14 at 10:33 pm

“@53 Declaring is another delightful part of test cricket.”

Oh, yes. Witness the recent SA / SL test; without SA declaring when they did, that test ends in a draw.


Layman 07.24.14 at 10:35 pm

Also, too, ESPN carries test matches live on espn3.com and thru their mobile app. If you’re a subscriber you can catch the action live there.

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