Thursday, August 20, 2009

Welsh Baseball

At last, after years of waiting, suffering the Brit natfest (or even worse, English nat in Wales fest) which was the Ashes (haven't they bloody finished yet!) we get an item on Welsh news about one of closest things to an indigenous Welsh sport - Baseball.

It was on S4C's news program at 7.30pm Monday 17 August - about 23 minutes into the programme and BBC Wales. Good on Wyre Davies! Of course, this being 'Welsh' media the item was only broadcast because of the lack of support by the Olympic committee towards the game and also because the item was run on Radio 4's Today programme the previous Thursday - if it's been in 'national' (UK) radio then it must be a proper story see boys! It was also featured in the letters pages of the Times.

It's an excellent game, an honest working class game, which is played mostly in Wales (Cardiff and Newport) and Liverpool in England. View Wikipedia page. BBC Wales used to broadcast the annual Wales v England international in the mid 1980s, but that stopped. Why? Clip available on youtube. (ignore the cheesy music!)

I went to a school, like so many, that made us suffer playing cricket. The usual sports personalities of the year would go in to bat and bowl and would be there for the rest of the sports lesson, leaving the rest of us to lust after the girls or if they weren't about be bored rigid. Baseball, by comparison, gives everyone a chance, has no pretences, isn't a class bound English thin ... and yes, it's still an English outpost in Wales - notice the decidedly mute response from 'Welsh' cricket fans to the campaign for a Welsh national cricket team.

Had the BBC and S4C spent just a fraction of the money spent on covering the Ashes in Cardiff on baseball the game would be set up for years. Why isn't it promoted in schools? It's a much more democratic game - everyone participates, size and height doesn't matter, you could easily have mixed sex teams. Why won't the Assembly run with it? Owen John Thomas, Plaid's AM for Cardiff and Valleys, was a keen advocate of baseball. Maybe Mohammad Ashgar being from Pakistan is more inclined towards cricket, but what about good blokes like John Griffiths in Newport or Chris Franks? C'mon boys.

Why won't or BBC Wales/Cymru news just include the scores - hardly a difficult job - everything else is listed? Don't the Welsh Baseball Union contact these people? How about S4C broadcasting the annual international with England - it can't get worse ratings than some of their programmes, the broadcast rights would be small, it would be a unique sport on the channel and would fill in time? With just a bit of promotional work the game could be played across Wales. Teachers - do the 'pepsi challenge' - give the kids a choice of playing cricket or Welsh Baseball and I'll take no bets which they'll prefer!

So, good to see an item of the final between Grange Albion and Grange Catholics - but next year I'd like to see more coverage on the Welsh media - web, tv and print!