I flicked on the radio in the kitchen last night as I was cleaning up after our barbecue and I thought I’d managed to re-tune it to the World Service because the gravel voiced commentator was speaking in Croatian or Gujarati or something equally alien to me.
But as I scrubbed at the grill and I listened closer, I began to recognise an odd word here and there and it dawned on me that this wasn’t a foreign language station. It was English I was listening to.
The problem was that the harder I listened, the less I understood. The man at the mic was saying things like:
“First big hop to Kuchman who retreated to get the hop and underhands to Cobb the pitcher.”
“Right hander brings it in and crowds Sebelis ball one.”
“Cobb last year at Montgomery seven and five with an ERA of two point seven. That ERA good enough for fourth in the southern league.”
What I was listening to was the Royals versus the Rays major league baseball game, but it might well have been Kabaddi for all the sense it made to me and I wondered what on earth it was doing on the BBC.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not having a moan about the jargon of baseball commentary. I’m sure it makes perfect sense to someone who understands the game and the reason I was tuned to Five Live Extra was to listen to the England and India test match which I’m certain would have been equally baffling to someone who hasn’t watched cricket.
But why put baseball on the BBC? Can there be that many people in the UK who are interested in the game to make up an audience?
And even if there were the odd few hundred keen to tune in, can the BBC justify the cost of covering the sport?
Just thought I’d ask.