Recently, some colleagues and I went to lunch with Sambit Bal, editor of cricinfo.com, one of (if not the) best cricket sites in the world. ESPN just bought the thing, and Sambit came here from Bangalore to meet his global colleagues. It's always funny when you speak with someone who knows so much about something you know so little about, especially when that something is a whole subculture unto itself. When we think about cricket here in the U.S., if we think about it at all, we view it as a sports version of Uncle Charlie on the 1950s TV classic My Three Sons—you know, kind of related to something (or someone) we know, sweet and all but not especially relevant. Except cricket is growing Stateside (there's a high school league in NYC, I believe) and it is the most popular sport in India (and a few other countries), which means, globally, it's more closely followed than its nephew Ernie, a.k.a. baseball. As Mag senior writer Carmen Renee Thompson once observed in a great story about sub-contintental tennis star Sania Mirza: If you're famous in India, you're world famous.
And now on to my list of THE 27 BEST SPORTS IN THE WORLD RIGHT NOW, ACCORDING TO ME. It's a nifty list, but much less important than another ranking I keep: SUBJECTS THAT LEND THEMSELVES ESPECIALLY WELL TO PUNS (No. 1, by a long shot? Marine life. Look at the bottom to see what I mean.) Anyway, here's this week's update, for Sachin Tendulkar:
THE 27 BEST SPORTS IN THE WORLD RIGHT NOW, ACCORDING TO ME:
3. Golf (PGA)
6. Soccer (MLS)3
7. Aussie Rules/Rugby League Football4
8. Table football5
9. College Football
10. Gaelic Football
11. Arena Football
14. Rowing (fours)
15. Sepak Takraw (Continental Asia)
17. Wheelchair tennis
18. Drag racing
21. Tennis (women's)
22. Water Polo
23. NASCAR (Craftsman Trucks Series)
24. Bowling (PBA)
1. See above.
2. Close readers of this blog (Hi, Scott!) might have expected MLB to be at the top of my list, since at the moment my Cardinals (really, all our Cardinals) are atop their division—a division, mind you, that was supposed to pale in comparison to the mighty East, except not so much. And, of course, this is cause for celebration, since the Cardinals represent all that is good and righteous in sports. But I don't think MLB can ever be No. 1 on my list, at least not as long as the DH is still used in the AL. I still can't figure out how otherwise serious and intelligent sports fans delude themselves into thinking that using a designated hitter does not fundamentally compromise the game. It's sort of like that proposal being floated by some AFC owners in the NFL. You know the one: The idea is to eliminate field goal kickers because, well, why should games so often come down to the legs of these scrawny, generally non-athletic players. Instead, this theory goes, fields goals and extra points should be thrown, by a quarterback, through the uprights. Crazy, right? Of course it is. I made it up. But it's no crazier, or less logical, than the rationales for the DH. Seriously, let's eliminate this DH experiment once and for all. For the kids.
3. David Beckham scored. The republic is saved!
4. How glad are you that it's that time of year again? This is Gasnier's year in the NRL, by the way. Mark my words. And if Geelong doesn't finish first in the AFL I will run through the streets with nothing on but my Cats boxer shorts.
5. You know, the one where you make a triangle-shaped football out of paper.
6. Hoops + tetherball + soccer = loads of fun!
7. I've decided to include a sport that uses a gun in my list from here on out, because a) guns are best used for recreational purposes only; and b) Charlton Heston died. RIP, Moses man.
A BRIEF LOOK INTO THE INCREDIBLE VARIETY OF MARINIE-LFE PUNS
It's no fluke that marine-life tops my whale of a list, which has no porpoise save to entertain, which from my perch is funny since many people get crabby when confronted by fish-related puns, and these soleless folks refuse to clam up about it, carping non-stop and giving me a haddock, which has no plaice in these kinds of exercises and leaves me floundering, often dabbing a tear from my eye and grunting in frustration as I play with my mullet, even though I know things will be eventually hunky-dory, because there is always a ray of hope in these circumstances, allowing me to skate away smiling and thanking cod that I don't have to keep doing this forever, having sealed my argument with this tangy rant.