I've come to accept the fact that as an American living
abroad, I'm a walking, interactive inspiration for an insult.
It comes with the accent. And it's okay. We Americans, due to
our cosmically-sized obesity epidemic, have thick skin.
the insults hurled in my direction are of the good-natured,
"How many countries did you invade today?" the barista at my
favourite coffee shop will ask.
"Hey, your coke-snorting, alcoholic, born-again, redneck
president is a disgrace," says my bank teller.
"Your foreign policy in the Middle East and refusal to sign
the Kyoto Protocol has cast a bloody pall over the legacy and
leadership of the United States in the 21st century," a
seven-year-old girl once quipped to me while waiting in a
queue at Countdown.
One time, my former flatmate, a Kiwi doctor, told me during a
particularly long lull of conversation while driving through
Middlemarch, "You deserved 9/11 and frankly the country's
`what's-wrong-with-us' reaction was the height of arrogance
and the confirmation of American ignorance."
He was a sweet guy.
Now, I take most of this in stride and chalk up the country's
poor ability to strike up an amenable conversation to the
fact New Zealanders are marooned on some sort of birthmark of
the world's rear-end.
However, I can't stomach the repetitious ribbing I receive
over the "sissy-ness" of American football players needing
protective pads (rugby players don't) and baseball players
needing gloves (cricketers don't, with the exception of the
Say what you will about the spoiled American professional
athlete, when game time comes, they're as hard as any.
Like the other inane comments shot in my direction, I don't
put much thought into the conclusion that American football
and baseball players are soft.
I do wonder how these players would translate into rugby and
There have been rumours and insinuations of rugby players and
cricketers shifting to American sports.
When I was a lowly intern at the Boston Globe, I had to deal
with such a rumour.
In April 2005, I answered a call at the sports department
that went something like this:"Hello, Boston Globe sports
department, future Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Zach
"Um. Yes, I'm calling from Channel 9 news in Australia. We've
heard this rumour that the Boston Red Sox are trying to sign
Adam Gilchrist to play baseball. Have you reported this?"
"We would like to talk to your senior baseball writer, this
is a hot topic here."
I walked over to my editor, told him the query.
The problem was, our senior baseball writer, and practically
all of our qualified staff was in New York for the weekend
covering the season-opening Yankees-Red Sox series.
My editor told me there was a better chance of getting a
one-on-one brunch with Jesus on a Sunday morning than there
was getting one of our venerable writers on the phone with an
Australian television station.
I went back to the phone, told my Aussie compatriot that he
was out of luck. Nobody was here to talk.
Five minutes later, the phone rang again. Same question. Same
annoying accent. Same response from editor.
Every few hours or so, the calls would come. This went on for
Finally, my boss said, "you take care of it."
The next phone call came from a radio station.
"We need to talk to your senior baseball writer."
"Speaking," I happily replied.
And, after being announced as "Zach Hosseini, senior baseball
writer for the Boston Globe", I went on the air to explain to
the morning-time show that no, the Red Sox would probably
have no interest in Gilchrist as a real major leaguer and
that this was probably a stunt to raise the profile of the
Red Sox in a market they were beginning to scout.
They were quite impressed by the acumen of the senior
baseball writer for the Boston Globe.
So was I.
At the time, Fox Sports quoted Jon Deeble, Red Sox scout and
Australian: "We expressed interest in him and we think he has
a lot of potential, and the club has tapes of him batting."
"Boston has a payroll of $160 million a year and it's
something worth having a look at."
Of course, I was right.
Nothing ever came to fruition with Gilchrist and the Sox, and
lo and behold, Boston did raise its profile in Australia and
have signed some intriguing
Enough with the anecdotes of self-congratulations.
Americans could make the switch to cricket and rugby, despite
no pads or gloves.
For baseball players, the toughest transition would be
hitting off the bounce and learning the technical aspects of
defensive batting in cricket.
Here's my list of top baseball-cricket transitions:
Opening batsman: Derek Jeter, shortstop, New
While his skills are diminishing as a baseball player, Jeter
has also been an example of cool under pressure as a batter
and fielder and has show immense discipline and technique as
Though I'm obligated to hate his guts because he is a Yankee,
I secretly took joy rooting for him when he played for the
USA in the World Baseball Classic.
Number three and four batsmen: Chase Utley, second
baseman, Philadelphia Phillies; Alex Rodriguez, third
baseman, New York Yankees.
With apologies to David Ortiz, Albert Pujols and other big
boppers around the league, Utley and A-Rod get the call not
only because of their hitting ability, but also their
The worse thing imaginable would be watching Ortiz field.
Think of a taller, rounder, happier and less-mobile Jesse
Utley is an immense young talent, showing atypical power and
patience from a second baseman.
rumoured to be dating Madonna and has blue lips. 'Nuff said.
Lower middle order batsman: Vladimir Guerrero,
rightfielder, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
"Vlad the Impaler", as he is known, uncorks some of the most
powerful, and explosive swings in baseball and often swings
wildly from the heels.
With quick wrists and great eye-hand co-ordination Guerrero
hits "junk", or pitches in the dirt quite often. A cricket
switch could make sense.
Wicket-keeper: Joe Mauer, catcher, Minnesota Twins.
Mauer, though just 25, is lauded for his maturity and
professionalism when handling the Twins' young pitching
He hasn't shown great power as a hitter, but possesses great
patience and regularly makes contact.
bowler: Jonathan Papelbon, relief pitcher, Boston Red
Papelbon, the Red Sox closer, is probably insane, is as close
to a John Belushi as you'll find in a professional athlete,
and throws gas.
At this point, he is probably the most feared closer in
baseball and his on-mound demeanor is as fierce as
his fastball/splitter repetoire is lively.
Spin bowler: Justin Duchscherer, relief pitcher,
Besides having a great name to try and pronounce when you're
drunk, Duchscherer has an array of off-speed pitches and has
carved out a nice career for himself on guile and location.
American All-Yanks rugby team
Logan Mankins, New England Patriots;
Jamal Williams, San Diego Chargers
Vince Young, Tennessee Titans.
Ben Watson, New England Patriots;
Terrell Owens, Dallas Cowboys
Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings; LaDanian
Tomlinson, San Diego Chargers;
Champ Bailey, Denver Broncos
Bob Sanders, Indianapolis Colts.
First five-eighth: Troy
Polamalu, Pittsburgh Steelers
Second five-eighth: Joseph
Addai, Indianapolis Colts
Centre: Marion Barber,
Wes Welker, New England Patriots;
Devin Hester, Chicago Bears
Reed, Baltimore Ravens.