Interesting conversations are taking place in the comments sections to various threads on this site on just how violent both sports are—and the rights of players to earn as much as they can. I think it’s fair to say that both sports cultivate an identity of skill over brute force and style over strength—even though physical and psychological intimidation are part and parcel of every individual game. As we talk about in Right off the Bat, they’ve also developed the myths of playing for honor over money and team over personal gain. Both sports, however, have hard balls being delivered at pace directly at the body of another person, and while both games have done much to protect the guy with the piece of wood in his hands, incidents still happen when somebody gets hurt. Baseball and cricket players have been hit and have died on the pitch, although thankfully very few.
Both cricket and baseball have long histories of men with money and position exploiting talent for their own ends and not paying players their fair dues. Both sports’ establishments have played on notions of patriotism, loyalty, and the cultus of the amateur to make their case to keep their players under their thumb; and both sports in their histories have seen periods where the players have revolted, sometimes successfully, and got more of their fair share. We may be in a similar moment in cricket today. It’s also true that both sport tend to cultivate the idea that the game was purer, better—the men tougher, the standards higher, the games more epochal—in days gone by. This is nonsense, of course—a function of seeing one’s heroes when you were young and the dispiriting facets of growing old. But it makes for great arguments for fans of different generations in either sport!