Today, 15th April, is taxes day in the US. This is the last day you have to provide your tax documentation or request an extension. This is a major event in the US calendar. It looks like providing tax information is very complicated. There is a huge book that tells you how to fill in your taxes. Seriously, it’s the size of a telephone directory. During my wandering today, I saw a queue reminiscent of the ones I had seen for Mama Mia and Hairspray (and Jersey Boys)…it was a post office. A lot of the people in the queue were clutching bulging envelopes and looked as nervous as I did at immigration. Most people, according to the news, use accountants to do their taxes for them, so it must be bumper bonus time for accountants – I must mention this to my brother, Rob, who is a qualified accountant.
My other bright idea is whether the UK might be ready for a national softball league. OK, perhaps not a national league (one may exist, I have done no research on the matter), but would a softball pitch make money?
I sat on the bleachers in Central Park and watched a softball game. Once again, the weather is great and there are several games going on. I settle on one adult game with players of all shapes and sizes. This may provide a little more entertainment that the other kids games.
It was a league game between Radio Free (going for the championship) and McCoys (struggling near the bottom). The player/coach of Radio Free, T.C., told me that this is serious business. Companies fund teams to represent them even down to supplying kits. An official umpire is also present.
Although there is mutual respect between the teams, this is evident in the post match high-fiving, there is plenty of banter or sledging during the game. Its barely audible to the spectators, but as batsmen return to their team area, many of them remark on it. The McCoys backstop, in particular, has “got a big mouth”.
Without wanting to show my ignorance, I try to follow the game as best I can. Needless to say, it’s similar to baseball and rounders (I would not dare mention rounders to these guys). And it looks like a lot of fun. Who doesn’t enjoy having something thrown at them and then trying to whack it as hard as you can with a stick? It also looks pretty dangerous. Although the ball is pitched underarm, it comes at quite a pace. It also comes at such a pace that the pitcher does not appear to be in total control of where the ball goes. Head, body, feet are all at risk, so the batter reacts swiftly when any of these areas are in the line of fire.
It’s amazing how much a sport, that is generally alien to me, is fun to watch and it’s obvious that it really means a lot to those playing. The game ends with Radio Free wining 4-2 and the players head back to work. It seems that the players have extended lunches to conduct this sort of thing. Imagine the 5 a-side footy leagues up and down the UK that are conducted at lunch times, except your department actively supports you in it; kits, league fees, time set aside, etc? I’m sure there are some companies that already do this, aren’t there?
I’m now bang into my sport and go to the ESPN restaurant for something to eat and to watch a bit of baseball. The great thing about ESPN is that they show everything and with the time differences across the US, there always seems to be something going on. Sure enough, there’s a couple of baseball games on the go. Compared to the softball this is like formula 1 compared to a slow bicycle race. It’s brutal.
New Yorkers are renowned for their passion for sport and their eagerness to get involved in banter and try to involve others. I’m at the bar, happily munching on my nachos (there’s a lot of chillies on there, I think BA might have something to say about that later) and I get dragged into a baseball conversation.
In the UK, and probably all over Europe, football (soccer) is often used as the first tentative steps towards conversation. Therefore, if you ask someone which football team they support and they do not support anyone, or, in extreme cases, do not even like football, those tentative steps towards conversation are blocked. I’m not saying that it’s right, I’m just saying that’s the way it is.
Well, the baseball version happened to me:
“Are you a Red Sox fan or a Yankees fan?”
“Where you from?”
“Oh right, you like soccer”
“That’s right” – I prepare myself to enter a conversation about Norwich City or the Premier League…nothing.
Soccer is a no go unless you’re in an Irish bar.
So, if I’m to be able to engage in conversations about sports, I have to have a team. So far, after watching basketball on a previous holiday to Jamaica with a real basketball fan, I have chosen the Phoenix Suns as my NBA team. Now all I need to do is find a team for the following sports:
- Ice Hockey
- Gridiron (Football)
This could be tricky. Like Mr. Orange in Reservoir Dogs, I’d have to rehearse an authentic story for supporting. It seems like a lot of hardwork. I’ll just see how it goes.