Sunday, October 24, 2004

Iraqis Take Up Baseball

Despite the fact that the nightly news tries to portray Iraq as a quagmire of death and destruction (a sentiment that fits nicely with John Kerry's campaign speeches) it is not as bad as is shown on the TV. One proof is that baseball has taken off in Iraq. That's right, the most American of sports is taking root in Iraq. From a story in the Los Angeles Times by staff writer Ashraf Khalil:

BAGHDAD — Yasser Abdel Hussein tugs his cap and unwinds with the smooth sidearm delivery that's made him the ace of the pitching staff. He looks like a prospect.

At home plate, however, Mohammed Khaled seems like he's still on chilly terms with his bat as he crouches, resplendent in a red (yes, red) New York Yankees hat, FUBU muscle shirt and tight bicycle shorts.

"It's a game of speed and concentration," Khaled says after widely missing most of Abdel Hussein's pitches. He connected just twice, and then only by abandoning all technique and swinging one-handed.

The 20 young men gathered on a patchy grass field behind Baghdad University's College of Sports Education may not look like much now. But organizers of Iraq (news - web sites)'s fledgling national baseball team have high hopes.

As they work to introduce the sport to Iraqis who've never heard the phrase "home run," they're struggling with financial hardship, bare-bones equipment and a mortal fear that their fondness for this most American game will draw the wrath of the country's insurgency.

Ismail Khalil Ismail, the founder of the 10-team league from which the national squad players are drawn, treads carefully to avoid the perception that his creation is a seed of cultural imperialism. He dreads the thought of local newspapers "writing that we're playing an American game. But what game isn't American or British — basketball, soccer, boxing?"

Be sure to read the whole article, then email the story to your friends. It is not often that the press let's a good news story leak out of Iraq, so when they do the public needs to know about it.

(Story found on RadioBlogger)

Be sure to check the current posts for updates.