Baseball trips in the U.S are passe. Who's up for Iraq in '06?
From today's NY Times:
The new season is supposed to begin sometime in September when the weather begins to cool down - Mr. Ismael said there was no particular opening day. The summer heat has made any regular practices absolutely unbearable, though on a recent afternoon, Mr. Ismael assembled a squad, including several players from the south, to put on a demonstration for a visiting reporter.
The players laid out the bases at the edge of a fallow soccer pitch, where the grass had grown to shin height and was full of dust from sand storms. A herd of cows and sheep grazed nearby. The players drew from a communal stockpile of gloves - most do not own their own - and took turns batting and running the bases.
There were a lot of wild throws, and few hits made it out of the infield. The shortstop was out of position, playing nearly on top of second base, and for some reason everyone referred to the catcher as "the umpire." Many players in the league said they had never seen the sport played by non-Iraqis; even Mr. Ismael has only seen college or professional players from abroad on instructional DVD's and videos.
But there was no shortage of enthusiasm. Ali Muhsen, the 27-year-old captain of the national team, said afterward that he dreamed of one day traveling to the United States with the Iraqi national team and playing the Americans.