KANSAS CITY — Watching a Royals baseball game here the other evening from field level beyond the right-field fence, which is 330 feet from home plate, offers interesting perspective.
From here, everything looks very far away, and the yawning expanse of the outfield makes it look impossible for fielders to cover effectively. Conversely, watching from up behind home shortens distances and makes most outfield play look simple.
The game appears far easier from behind home plate and far harder from right field.
Which view is correct? Both, of course.
And that's the fascination of dealing with perspective in sport. Indeed, trying to put athletics in proper perspective is a moving target.
Out here in right field around the bullpen, the pitchers and assorted others are just sort of goofing off. They watch the game, some. They visit, some. They wander off and watch the contest on closed-circuit television, some. The intensity 330 feet from home is far less than it is in the dugout. So the perception is those closer to the game are far more involved.
Then there's Wimbledon, which concluded earlier this week. To put it in proper perspective, the finals were boring. Lindsay Davenport dispatched tennis diva Steffi Graf in straight sets, in which the loser played lethargically. Pete Sampras crushed Andre Agassi in straight sets, in which the loser never had a chance.
Or, to put Wimbledon in proper perspective, the finals were fascinating. Davenport raised her game to astounding heights to whip Graf, seven-time Wimbledon champ, who played well herself. And Sampras, in winning his sixth Wimbledon, put on a smashing display of power tennis. With this almost flawless performance, Sampras - ranked No. 1 for six straight years - may be ready to make a dramatic run at establishing himself as all-time best player.
So which is it?
Which brings us to Women's World Cup soccer. To put it in proper perspective, it is a true and legitimate international event. Never before has women's soccer generated even close to this kind of attention. At Giants Stadium (capacity: 77,716), 78,972 attended the United States-Denmark game. Earlier this week, 73,123 went to Stanford Stadium to see the US dispatch Brazil, 2-0, in Palo Alto, Calif.
The finals Saturday in Pasadena, Calif., promise wonderful hoopla.
Suddenly, little girls want to be like Mia Hamm of the US, the all-time leading international goal scorer. It's inspiring, it's motivational, and it's about time. There is no reason women athletes, beyond figure skaters and gymnasts and the occasional swimmer and skier, shouldn't be generating standing cheers and hosannas just like males in football, basketball, baseball, golf, and hockey.
This is soccer's breakthrough. The men couldn't make it happen. The women did.
Or, to put it in proper perspective, women's soccer is a joke. So they filled Giants Stadium. The football Giants have done it on Sundays for umpteen falls when, for the most part, the team has been rotten. Women's soccer is a one-hit phenom. It's like the Rolling Stones concerts. They tour every four years and generate attention. If they toured all the time, few would show up.
Plus, soccer isn't ever going to make it in the US. It has been trying for decades. Time was that Pel, too, filled Giants Stadium - briefly. Soccer is a foreign sport, and Americans just don't get it. That's why there were a pathetic 14,873 at Foxboro Stadium near Boston for a double header the other day. The only true believers are self-styled intellectuals who think soccer worthy because of its British roots. They link soccer and Shakespeare and are very proud of their sophistication.
The mindless chatter about a women's professional soccer league makes no sense. Few will come watch. Were it not for this land's foolish obsession with political correctness, women's soccer wouldn't exist.
So, which is it?
One person's perspective is another's heresy. Odd how everyone can look at the same set of facts and come to diametrically opposed conclusions.
So, is baseball hard or easy? Was Wimbledon good or bad? Is women's soccer of huge moment or a pebble on the beach of athletic time?
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