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Monday, October 22, 2007

Like an Englishman in New York

The title of today's post is not a reference to Sting's 1987 hit by the same name, but rather a sudden surge of empathy I'm feeling for the strange, isolated existence Brits (and other transplants) must lead in the Big Apple, far from the sports they know and love.

When we were still living in the U.S., I never gave much thought to those 'other sports' - you know, soccer, rugby and cricket - that I occasionally clicked past on the upper cable channels in the middle of the night.  It stood to reason that someone must be watching these unfathomable games since the cable companies aren't in the business of broadcasting content unless there is an audience.  But I never really stopped to consider who, exactly, that audience might be.

Also, while there always seemed to be a bunch of West Indians and the odd Aussie or South African playing cricket, soccer or rugby in New York and Connecticut's less visited parks... I still never stopped to think about the fact that there had to be quite a few fans of these sports who, by necessity, were setting their alarm clocks to ring in the wee hours of the morning so they could watch hotly contested matches in the UK, Australia and even such far flung places as India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

This sudden burst of empathy comes in no small part thanks to being an American Baseball fan living in Israel in October... far from where my Boston Red Sox are playing out an exciting post season. 

I am bleary-eyed with self-imposed 'jet lag' after several nights of going to bed after dinner and getting up at 2:30AM to watch my team battle back to win the American League Championship Series. 

It was a great night ov viewing... but it wasn't perfect.

You see, in between innings, and during pitcher changes, Fox Sports broadcast Cricket, Rugby and Soccer trivia!  It was absolutely maddening.  I mean, what possible interest would a baseball fan have in knowing Manchester City's unofficial theme song (Blue Moon... bellowed as if it were a heroic anthem, in case you were wondering), or what team was formed in 1886 by workers of the Woolwich Armament Factory (answer: 'Arsenal'). 

Instead of singing along with 'Take me out to the ballgame' during the seventh inning stretch, I was treated to an excruciating segment designed to test the viewer's knowledge of obscure Cricket rules (for your information, a googly that glances off the batsman's shoulder rather than his bat or hands, and which is subsequently caught... oh never mind!)

So, now that I think about it, a foreign fan in New York watching a test match late is probably subjected to an equally horrifying deluge of baseball or worse, Nascar trivia.

In our old life we would have had plenty of friends over to share the big games, and plenty of friendly rivals to call up and razz after a particularly satisfying win.  But here in Israel, the games are enjoyed in relative solitude... on the upper cable channels at strange hours of the morning.  And celebrations are more modest affairs, usually taking place quietly over breakfast.

There are a couple of other Red Sox fans in my neighborhood (transplants like myself), and we've spent the summer nodding approvingly at one another in shul or shrugging in shared resignation as our team's fortunes have ebbed and flowed.  But these gestures have passed between us, unnoticed by our Israeli friends whose interest in foreign sports is probably limited to European soccer or basketball.

This morning at 5:30AM, as the big kids and I high fived quietly so as not to wake Yonah or disturb the neighbors, and I struggled to purge my mind of all the soccer, rugby and cricket trivia I'd been exposed to, I suddenly realized that this must be what it's like to be an Englishman in New York.

Posted by David Bogner on October 22, 2007 | Permalink


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Sports? Hmmm...

I've been working on a really great math problem for the last couple of weeks....

Posted by: Albert | Oct 22, 2007 3:11:17 PM

One of the reasons (and, frankly, there aren't many) why it's good to be a Cubs fan: You never have to get up in the middle of the night to watch an important game.

Posted by: dfb1968 | Oct 22, 2007 3:43:53 PM

Count your blessings. It probably hasn't been too much fun hanging around all the transplanted Met and Yankee fans out there.

Posted by: psachya | Oct 22, 2007 3:56:09 PM

The Boston Red Sox?????????????????? Well, I suppose we can still be friends.....maybe...sniff, sniff...

Posted by: Baila | Oct 22, 2007 4:11:35 PM

this is the reason I got a slingbox, so I can watch my bears live, with real commercials, or record it on the dvr and watch it at a normal hour.

Posted by: Max Power | Oct 22, 2007 4:18:41 PM

Albert... You must be tons of fun at parties. ;-)

dfb1968... I was actually rooting for a Cubs-Red Sox world series. First of all, they have the two best stadiums in the majors. Secondly, there is no way the the Sox could lose! :-)

psachya... On the contrary. There is nothing like the Red Sox enjoying a winning season to make Yankee and Mets fans easier to be around. :-)

Baila... 'Friad so. at least you know I have character. :-)

Max Power... 'slingbox'? 'splain please, Lucy.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Oct 22, 2007 4:19:43 PM

I know the pain of waking up in the middle of the night to watch a very important game. When the 2002 Soccer World Cup was played in Japan and Korea, I had the worst time of my life trying to catch up any game on TV. Taping it and watching it later did not work out because I always found the games' score when I got to work.
Congratulations on a great come-back. Hopefully the Colorado Rockies are not going to give Boston a hard time, but you never know, they won 21 out of 22 games since September 1st.

Posted by: David S | Oct 22, 2007 5:09:52 PM


Funny you should mention this now. I am stuck in London for the next three days where my jet lagged body will be subjected to fourteen channels of cricket and soccer and nary a mention of NFL football or baseball.

It ain't easy being green.

Posted by: moC | Oct 22, 2007 5:24:30 PM

Dave... I watched the game last night and wondered if you guys were up watching.... it was a good game, though, of course, i was rooting for Cleveland, who decided to hand you the win without too much of a struggle!
Congrats, but I must say that I'll be rooting for Colorado in the series... sorry, but as a Yankee fan, i canNOT root for the Red Sox.
Good luck!

Posted by: val | Oct 22, 2007 5:31:44 PM

I always root for the N.L. The sole exception is if the Angels are in the series. Otherwise it is death and destruction to the hated A.L. The D.H. is a shameful addition to our pure sport.

Posted by: Jack | Oct 22, 2007 6:21:00 PM

one night a few years ago my husband was watching a playoff game on METV, i think, which broadcast the entire game including the original commercials. i remember waking in a fog in the wee hours during the game to "avis, we try harder!" and not knowing where i was! very twilight zone...

Posted by: nikki | Oct 22, 2007 6:21:24 PM

Um, at least you didn't have to watch Dane Cook. Again. And again. And again.

As an Indians' fan... congrats. Good luck in the Series!

Posted by: Ezzie | Oct 22, 2007 8:07:03 PM

Oh, I feel your pain.

About nine post-seasons ago, I was living in England. One morning in October, my alarm clock went off, meaning Radio Four went on. I was lying there half-awake when I heard, "And in other sporting news, the New York Yankees have won baseball's World Series championship. Sheep prices are down this morning..."

Posted by: uberimma | Oct 23, 2007 1:08:54 AM

David -- I grew up with red Sox, but my 2001 Diamondbacks cured me of that psychological trauma -- AND broke the back of the NYY dynasty. I was very glad the Sox won their world series, but they're starting to sound like Evil Empire II, only with SABRs.

Rockies just dismantled my very young, badly managed DBacks in the NLCS, and if the layoff didn't hurt too badly, they could give Boston fits. Can't wait to see DiceK and Wakefield try to pitch at Coors... heh heh. At least Schilling can be grateful he won't have to pitch there.

Anytime you're up and want to hang out online during a game...

Posted by: AZZenny | Oct 23, 2007 3:28:00 AM

My Rockies will eat your Red Sox and spit out the bones, and I've got $1.00 American (that is, about 85 cents Canadian) that's not afraid to say so!

Good on ya, and good on the American pasttime (of the past). I am still looking forward to acquiring some Petach Tikva game-worn gear to wear around here...



Posted by: wrymouth | Oct 23, 2007 7:27:49 AM

Go Sox! Red Sox Nation is everywhere.

Posted by: Drew | Oct 23, 2007 12:45:49 PM

David S... Thanks. I figured that you'd understand, what with being a transplant yourself.

moC... Just lucky I guess. Looking forward to seeing you when you get here.

val... See, that right there is why I have no respect for Yankee fans. The Yankees can be playing the Twins or the White sox and the idiots in the stands will still be chanting "Red Sox Suck" at the top of their lungs. You guys deserve the overpaid, under-performing players you got (not to mention the raving lunatic owner).

Jack... I agree with you about the DH rule. It is the weeping boil on the arse of the greatest sport in the world.

nikki... I'm hearing all these references to technologies of which I have no knowledge. a little enlightenment please!

Ezzie... See that Val? Take note... here's a team that is all class. Ezzie was rooting for the Indians but still had the class to step up and wish me well without the need to tell me he was going to root for any team but the red sox. Thanks Ezzie!

uberimma... Brilliant! Thanks for the giggle. :-)

AZZenny... Thanks I appreciate the offer. I may put up a chat box on the site during the series for just that purpose. :-)

wrymouth... Oy, another reader who wants to pay the man. Take a lesson from Jack (who, as we speak is trying to figure out how to send me a kilo of Jeff's Kosher Sausages from LA) and admit that the Sox are going all the way. Of course, if you need to build your character by suffering, I'll take that bet. :-)

Posted by: treppenwitz | Oct 23, 2007 2:05:33 PM

ok -- a slingbox, from what i understand, will transmit a cable signal anywhere in the world. in other words, if someone you know in new jersey has a slingbox, and you have a reciever, you can pick up his or her comcast signal and watch it in israel. i'm sure others here could explain the technology better than i can but that's the gist.

METV is the "middle east television" station -- most of their programming is christian oriented, (the bible belt soap operas circa 1975 are really funny!) but they do broadcast other family friendly things, including assorted games. we get it thru hot.

Posted by: nikki | Oct 23, 2007 7:02:56 PM

www.slingmedia.com , basically it allows you to control a US cable box from your computer. I hooked it up to an extra box at my sister's house.

Posted by: Max Power | Oct 23, 2007 7:57:37 PM

David, go on the New York Times website and searc for Francona and Torre and check out what Terry has had to say about the Yankess Red Sox business. Some nice stuff. Of course, the Yankees engineering Torre's departure kind of underscores your point.
I for one did root for the Sox over the Indians, although I was surprised they came back. I never imagined that Carmona and Sabathia would continue to underperform. ( and you know where my loyalties lie. But the only thing on par with my love of the boys in pinstripes is probably the city where you can get Peet's and JPLicks on the same block)

Posted by: jordan Hirsch | Oct 23, 2007 8:53:42 PM

I'm such a bad commenter -- letting a slow pitch like this hang out there for nearly a week. But better late ...

I suggest you wean yourself off baseball slowly. I strongly recommend becoming a Texas Rangers fan. My experience is that rooting for the Rangers will cure you in just a few months -- certainly long before October each year.

Posted by: Bob | Oct 27, 2007 4:06:22 PM







Posted by: Inna | Oct 28, 2007 1:33:08 AM

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