I can derive great joy from uncovering details of an important but long-forgotten British baseball clash in a newspaper library. The enjoyment has much to do with the respect I have for the history of baseball. This is an appreciation that extends to other sports. As an example of this, I have my cycling computer set to kilometres instead of miles, not to cheer myself up by the greater rate with which the digits tick over, but to pay a small kind of homage to the land of all things metric and so many great two-wheelers, including the late Laurent Fignon. His gruelling battle with — and eventual 8-second loss to — Greg Lemond in the 1989 Tour de France is probably a singularly important factor in the development of my love for sport. (Eight seconds is an infinitesimal amount in the context of a 3-week stage race; if the action was condensed into a 10-second dash, the cyclists would not have been split by the naked eye or by a photograph).
I also get excited by baseball that happens in front of me, in three dimensions,Â using the full spectrum of colour and the entire range of audible sounds. Only last Sunday, instinct lifted me from my seat (and sent my head on a treacherous journey into the internal spidery mechanism of my ground-rooted fishing umbrella) when the Harlow Nationals’ first baseman Jarrod Pretorius threw himself over the fencing marking the edge of foul territory — his intended domain — and came up with the ball for the out.
If you tried to weigh up these two types of enjoyment using a pair of scales, the measuring aid would vapourise out of the space-time continuum because they are incompatible as far as making comparisons is concerned.
In the same way, I gained orthogonal enjoyment from writing two previous BaseballGBÂ columns, one on current reflections (Roundshaw Hop) and the other featuring historical snippets (theÂ Cobbettes). If, with your replacement set of scales, you tried to make another comparison of enjoyment levels here, you’d again find yourself heading out to the hardware store with your hand in your pocket.
Fortunately, I don’t need to make a choice between the two areas.Â Project COBB (the Project for the Chronicling of British Baseball) has the dual purpose of preserving details of baseball today and restoring the happenings from yesteryear. And my new semi-regular column on BaseballGBÂ will consolidate the themes of my two previous serials in alternating between the current and the realms of history:Â One from the Present; One from the Past.