"There are few more distressing sights," so the farcically overrated English pop band The Libertines once put it, "than an Englishman in a baseball cap." I hope Pete Doherty and his skinny-jeaned pals weren't in London yesterday, then. If you find a New York Yankees baseball cap distressing, then I can't imagine your reaction to the sight of thousands of Englishmen wearing American football jerseys, as they were at Wembley's now annual NFL game.
It is a uniquely unflattering garment. It makes the wearer look like Homer Simpson when he took to donning a kaftan, having put on enough weight to be allowed to work from home. American clothing does tend towards the baggy, but some NFL followers look ridiculous, particularly the skinny English ones. Little bony arms poking out the side of a tent-like San Francisco 49ers jersey will never be a good look.
Of course, the players' clothes aren't baggy: sportswear in the US, by contrast to casual wear, tends towards the figure-hugging. Take baseball, for example. The trousers worn by the players in the ongoing World Series would pass muster with the Libertine boys, such are their circulation-impairing tightness.
The beauty of baseball, though, is that (unlike basketball or American football, and like cricket) you don't have to be a great athlete to be a great player. America's pastime has a tradition of fatties stretching all the way back to Babe Ruth and beyond. Upholding the tradition in this year's showpiece series is the San Francisco Giants' Pablo Sandoval, known as "Kung Fu Panda" by fans.
Sandoval is an impressive figure of a man, no doubt. He looks like he could eat Colin Cowdrey and Colin Milburn and still have room for Mike Gatting for afters. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to help the Giants on Saturday night, when they lost 4-2 to the Texas Rangers, seeing their lead in the series cut to 2-1.
The Rangers were once co-owned by George Bush. The former US President was there on Saturday night, looking on from a front-row seat. Bush was scheduled to throw the first pitch at last night's fourth game (while fans of slightly amusing names can revel in the fact that the Giants pitcher was expected to be Madison Bumgarner), an honour he also enjoyed at the start of the 2001 World Series.
It's an interesting idea, this celebrity involvement: perhaps the FA could get a politician to kick-off this season's FA Cup final. It might add a bit of sparkle to a contest that has lost its lustre. Who wouldn't enjoy the look on David Cameron's face as John Obi Mikel, for example, gets a bit carried away and attempts what was once known as a "reducer"?
Actually, there were plenty of good ideas at Saturday night's game in Arlington, if only the FA was willing to think outside the box. Like fireworks after a home run or ESPN's Texas montage: pictures of cows, Bush and jet planes, accompanied by a tune I hadn't previously heard, called "God Bless Texas". God willing, I won't hear it again.
Much more enjoyable was the crowd's rendition of "Deep in the Heart of Texas", a tune devoted to, as Wikipedia charmingly puts it, "elaborating on the merits of the state of Texas": "The stars at night are big and bright,", it claims, rather modestly, while "the cowboys cry ki-yip-pie-yi." Magnificent – and if Fulham reach the Cup final, a rendition would surely be a fitting tribute to Clint Dempsey, their Texan firecracker. Who cares what the Libertines think?Reuse content