As a companion piece to yesterday's post trying to explain football, today is a brief bit on baseball. Unlike American football, baseball is at least popular in some other countries so it is not asked about as often. For instance, I have never had to explain to a Venezuelan why baseball is played in the U.S. However, it does receive its fair share of complaints from non-Americans who find fault with the game, especially its pace. However, in contrast to American football, those complaints are very similar to the same ones that non-fans from America also have about baseball.
American football is of course not something for everyone in the U.S. However, even domestic non-fans understand the sport's place in American culture and can at least comprehend why the sport is so popular because they end up surrounded by signs of the sport's obvious popularity. This is an insight foreigners rarely have and explaining football's popularity is much more difficult because it is hard to easily explain how football is able to hold great cultural significance to someone who has not lived in that culture. Contrast this with baseball which, despite being America's pastime, has ceded the number one spot of professional sports to its beefy football brother. In doing so, it also draws less fascination from foreigners who rarely ask why baseball is poplar in the U.S. Well, at least the ones I talk with. Instead, they ask why is the sport so slow and they instantly get their answer on why it is not the dominant sport in the U.S. The "too slow" refrain is all too common, but also not fair. Again, Jack comes through with a theory on why many dislike baseball based on a lack of understanding of the finer points of the sport.
I have yet to get a really good opportunity to explain baseball to a non-fan here. It doesn't come up as a topic as often as American football, but perhaps I can win someone over.
In a note related to yesterday's pool party, I met one of the two Peace Corps Volunteers in Balkanabat. She lives with the family of one of our employees. There are only 29 PCVs in Turkmenistan and that number is gradually going down.