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December 05, 2007


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Speaking as a Hoosier, I can tell you that it is because basketball is the superior game.

Noel Maurer

Better change that attitude if you gonna keep living among the Boricua, güey.

Not that the Boricua ain't mean mean basketball players, of course. Word.


Ha. For sure -- but I'm a foreigner here. (More so than in Europe, actually...)


Oh, basketball had been introduced at the same time, by some of the Thomasites if I'm not mistaken.

(Did I ever show you that picture of Muslim girls on Jolo or Basilan island playing baseball circa 1905? okay, that sounds improbable enough to *me* that I want to double-check it. But my photocopy is under more relevant photocopies at the moment.)

The usual reason given for the decline of Filipino baseball is that the name players after the war were too old to attract much younger interest. And yeah, the old guard did have very long careers (and there's nothing wrong with that).

But I suspect the cultural reason had to do with the two imperial powers running the Philippines being baseball freaks. Soccer is even duller to Filipinos than it is to Americans, so they went with the obvious alternative.

Also, basketball is more like the deep Filipino sports of escrima and cockfighting than baseball is. I'm sure you've read how the Japanese grooved on the pastoral Zen bat-do aspects of baseball in its first decades there.

Noel Maurer

The "old marquee players" argument is an effect, not a cause. Even if that were due to some sort of institutional sclerosis, it would only effect that league, not the game.

I'm not sure I buy the "imperial rejection" argument. After all, the United States was quite a bit nastier in Cuba, Nicaragua, and Panama, but look at those places. Baseball happy, all of them. And let's not mention Mexico!

Korea and Taiwan, similar stories. An even nastier imperial power, but the game survived.

Plus, basketball is about as American as it gets, even if a Canadian invented it.

Finally, escrima. (Cockfighting?) You could make an argument that escrima provides a good base for ... uh ... baseball. Swinging sticks, right?

So I am unsatisfied.

I'd love to see that picture, though.


I think it's more as if Ohio were conquered mildly by Brazil, and then rather less so by Germany. It's very odd that a popular sport disappears, I completely agree -- an unusual event seems to require an unusual explanation.

As for escrima: man-to-man coverage. Footwork and full body motion. A series of minor duels and feints as the player heads to the basket. Not very much like baseball.

And yeah, cockfighting, for fan reaction, though I think the betting scene is a bit more placid for basketball. Though the game is pretty physical for a place whose national league has a height limit.

Noel Maurer

Well, cockfighting is also popular in a lot of baseball-playing countries, so I'm not convinced.

Escrima, gotcha ... but that still doesn't explain baseball's popularity and then disappearance.

And while I understand the Brazil-Germany to America-Japan analogy, it feels a bit like a just-so story.


Um. Is there some special Filipino reason to refer to "escrima" instead of calling it fencing? Oh, wait. Google tells me there is (Spanish is "esgrima" anyway, but I was assuming it was an older spelling.)

Wow. They do "escrima", the traditional Filipino martial art with the inexplicably Spanish name, in Europe.

This world is so freaking weird.

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