Baseball is not for everyone

I’m kind of a sucker for Bill Bryson, who initially made his name writing columns in the U.K. as the fish-out-of-water American. In large part Bryson went native, however, now makes his permanent home in the U.K., holds positions with British universities and, depending on what he’s writing, often comes off more British than he does American.

His opposite is a guy named Justin Webb, who writes about what it’s like to be a Brit in the United States. He has not gone native:

“There are several areas where I’m completely un-American,” he asserts down a crackly phone line from Washington DC. “I cannot be bothered with any of the sport, I find it incredibly boring, I’d rather watch people play rounders than baseball.

Before you register your shock and outrage, keep in mind that the guy has a pretty warped perspective on other things as well:

“The food I also find really difficult, I never understood the thinking that if you eat healthy food you’re suddenly making a statement about how sensible and down to earth you are. “It seems to me that American eating habits are appalling, but it’s not so bad for me because I travel so much.”

If he’s the kind of guy who would rather have spotted dick than apple pie, I’m not going to get too bent out of shape when he slags on baseball.

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  1. crowhop said...

    I never understood the thinking that if you eat healthy food you’re suddenly making a statement about how sensible and down to earth you are.

    that is solid, imo.  everything today is sold and marketed as being “smart”, not “good”.  totally changed the marketing industry.  of course, that has been documented for years now, so he’s really not saying anything “new”.

  2. MooseinOhio said...

    I have a few words for any Brit that may crack on the US – spices and dental care.

    Yeah yeah you had the Magna Carta well before we had the Declaration of Independence and you have the Royal Family and we have the Hilton sisters – I get it. 

    But you’d think that a country that has a great educational system that includes the likes Oxford could develop a decent culinary institure and a school of dentistry.

  3. Craig Calcaterra said...

    Moose—let’s be fair. There is fabulous food in the U.K.  It just happens to all be Indian food.

  4. MooseinOhio said...

    @ Craig – Just had to clean the coffee off my monitior. 

    @ Ron – I absolutely loved breakfast when I was in Ireland (e.g., banger, steel head oats) and with a wife from Latin American can eat beans for any meal. 

    @ Any offended Brit – I joke because I love you – heck I was you about 350 something years ago.

  5. Toby said...

    Hey Craig,

    Just a word from another Brit…you ‘slag off’ baseball, not on…

    And seeing as rounders is only played by high school girls, I think this is less about the sport and more about his ‘viewing’ preferences…

  6. haje16 said...

    I cant disagree with my fellow “Brit” about the food thing but he’s been gone from his homeland for far too long if the view from his high horse suggests its any different back East.

    as for baseball..tis just ignorance. give him a copy of Moneyball or three nights in august for example…he just cant feel the excitement because he doesnt understand the game.

  7. Phil J said...

    You will be no doubt be pleased to know that Justin Webb is returning to the UK later this year to present the (presigious) Today Programme on Radio 4, where no doubt he won’t be bringing up US sport. Of course, baseball is an acquired taste, and indeed, I come up against great cynicism when I bring it up with people here.

    And in Justin’s defence (spelt with a “c”), I find the NFL to be pretty dull indeed. And basketball is only interesting in the NCAA tournament.

    And the world’s number one sport is FOOTBALL. The one with the spherical ball. We invented that, y’know.

  8. bowie said...

    I was in australia recently and spent 7 hours watching the 2nd day of a 5-day long cricket match.  And the same team batted all day.  This is one of the oldest British sports.

    I’ve never watched rounders, but I think it’s somewhere in between cricket and baseball.  Aussies who know baseball think it’s really fast paced and high scoring.

  9. Laurence Davison said...

    To be fair to Webb, he was doing an interview on returning home after a long overseas posting. When asked what things about US culture he didn’t get on with he could have been a lot less pleasant than saying “They have an odd attitude to food and I never got their sports.”

    For instance, “Many of them are grotesquely overweight and their economic system is about to destroy the Western world even quicker than their foreign policy.”

    I kid coz I love ya guys.

  10. Ron B said...

    Nice job getting your site higher up the Google Ranks. Who knew that success was just a ‘dick apple pie’ search away?

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