giant steps

Fear the Beard

There’s a funny old game over here that people quite like, called ‘baseball’. The thing about baseball that I like, apart from the fact that its name doesn’t get confused with that of another more globally popular sport, is the uniforms they wear. They are so classic looking, untroubled by sponsors or the need to change designs every few months. Usually, teams will play in white with their opponents in grey, although soemtimes they will use their other colours – the San Francisco Giants for example sometimes play in black, and even orange, being their colours. Usually (but not always) the home team will wear their nickname (“Giants”, “Yankees”, etc) across their jersey, while the away team would have the name of their city. This classic look reinforces the classic feel of the game – that iconic ballpark design, the apparently simple yet completely complicated (or vice-versa, depending on where you’re from) rule system, the fact that its not about being macho or aggressive, but hitting a ball and running, or catching a ball (with a really big glove). Simple really.

I was never a bat and ball kid. Cricket confused me (it still does) – while they may have light, bright, colourful playing kits now, I never understood growing up why they would play this sport in the middle of summer wearing thick woolly jumpers and long trousers. Rounders? Oh I hated rounders. I couldn’t throw the ball (pitch? bowl?) and was terrible at catching it, and if you missed an easy catch in the playground it was worse than, I don’t know, being Wayne Rooney at the World Cup. And you could get easily bored, with nothing to do but stand there and hope the ball doesn’t get hit in your direction. And then there was ‘softball’, which was just like rounders but with a ball that definitely wasn’t soft. I always wanted them to call it baseball so that we’d sound American and exotic, but I think you had to wear baseball caps if you wanted to call it baseball, and we couldn’t afford them at our school.

Now I live in America, and while I have always liked baseball, I’ve been a little slow in following it. My brother-in-law is a huge Giants fan, and my wife and son too, so naturally I am as well, and have been learning a lot more lately since the Giants won their division, then fought through the play-offs to win the National League, and are now two games into the World Series against the Texas Rangers – two games which they won quite emphatically (11-7 and 9-0 are veritable cricket scores even in baseball). We’ve been glued to the set (cynics can make a sentence out of the following words: “bandwagon, on, jumping, the”), it is pretty exciting. So I had to honour the Giants before they threw it all away (now who’s cynical? hey, that’s my long years as a Tottenham fan, plus a few years as a Giants fan) with a sketch of one of their players, Brian Wilson, “Fear the Beard”. He has this odd and fake-looking black beard, and Giants fans all wear their real-looking fake beards when he comes out to close (he is a ‘closer’, which means he’s a pitcher that pitches at the end of the match – look at me learning all new words!). I was going to draw Tim Lincecum (he looks like a young Severus Snape) but The Beard was too tempting (plus it reminds me a bit of Ricky Villa). 

Go Giants! Fear the Beard! Get me some Garlic Fries!