It is the best of times – it is the worst of times!

I’ve got to ask – how’s your team going at the moment?  Mine are playing but the less said about how they’re playing and where they sit on their respective ladders would be appreciated.  In short, they’re providing some
competition but in general they appear to be little more than smallish speed bumps on other team’s run to the finals!  A case in point. 

I watched  The Panthers  play The Knights  last evening and though I was sitting in my lounge chair some 350 klms away from the match, it seemed like I felt every hit!  Have the players gotten bigger, has the game gotten faster or has the game become more brutal?  Or maybe I’ve just gotten older, softer and generally become a bit of a nancy?

Down south things are not much better for my team St Kilda.  They started the year – or to be truthful, the media said – with a lot of promise but the first bounce sorted them out quick smart.  It would be fair to say if the whole team had gone down with COVID they’d probably be better placed than they are now.  Still (and I can’t wait to front the local Tiger fanatic) Richmond have suffered a couple of losses to date so his fairy story regarding their chances this year will be worth hearing.  I’ll pass it on if any of it is printable.

As I’ve promised before, I haven’t watched any Rugby and it’s little wonder. The game has gone to the dogs!  BC (Before COVID) Rugby in Oz was under the hammer and the governing body decided that as we were pathetic, we had to drop a team.  There was much navel gazing as each team at the time pointed to somebody else as the team to go.  Finally the decision was made, The Western Force  (based in Perth) got the chop and all the others breathed a sigh.  Then COVID arrived, teams from New Zealand, South Africa, South America and Japan couldn’t travel so a local comp was organised but there was only four teams so, cap in hand, the ARU went to Perth and begged them (pretty please) to come back.  They did and haven’t done all that bad.  

If a team was to be culled right now however, The NSW Waratahs would be odds on to cop the axe as they’re running 5th and can’t go any lower because there
are only five teams in the comp!  The Wallamba Bulls  might get a call-up yet!  I’ll keep you posted.

But all is not lost.  The Child Bride and I have taken the plunge and signed up to pay TV.  And what’s just started in the Good Old Hew Hess of Hay – Major League Baseball, that’s what.  For those of you who think the world of sport begins and ends with your team in the AFL (Oz Rules), ARL (Rugby League), ASL (Soccer), NBL (Basketball) or (for heaven’s sake) ARU (Rugby) have we got news for you!  Yes, the 2021 Baseball season has just begun and while not all the games are being shown there are enough to satisfy this old base stealer.  I gained my first representative cap playing baseball and my first International cap in Singapore in 1983 playing (a related game) Slow Pitch Softball (and I have the trophy to prove it).

So, for all you sad and already disillusioned sports fans, look around.
Alright, to begin with you won’t understand the rules but don’t despair, you’re not going to be the first fan to be confused:  is there any real reason why a Rugby League referee gives another six tackles;  when is a
player really  caught with the ball  in Oz Rules;  why is it that a line judge is always blind when a through pass to an obviously off side player in Soccer is never called;  does anybody know what really constitutes a foul in
Basketball;  and have you ever understood why a Rugby referee ever blows their whistle?  See, you’re even confused with sports you’ve watched all your life!

I’ll grant you there will be some technicalities you might find hard to fathom and the dribblers (commentators, if you like) are the same sports and the world over (chatterboxes with access to records and minutia that will drive you crazy) but stick with it, you’ll get to understand in time.  If you don’t have pay TV might I suggest you drop over to Channel 34 (NITV). There you can watch Gaelic Football (and you thought Rugby was confusing) or a range of other sports that could include baseball and both men’s and
women’s softball.  Go on, what’ve you got to lose?

I don’t fully understand what happened but this week has seen the creation and demise of a new soccer competition in Europe.  There’s an old saying that each of us is destined to have 15 minutes of fame in our lifetime but this new Super League (or whatever it was called) didn’t even get that! There were billions of dollars supposedly involved and the foreign owners of several soccer teams in the UK signed up without checking if their fans might want it or like it!  They didn’t.  Very quickly those owners were abused (Boris even had a go at them in Parliament) and they backtracked so fast they’ve probably all got whiplash injuries.  The comp has been kicked to the gutter.  It’s nice to see fans still do have a place in sport.

Talk at you next month,

The Hillside Critic

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