The soccer stadium north of Tehran was empty. The 77,000 seats were made of plastic and were hot in the midday sun. Over the years, some of the seats had buckled from the pounding heat. There was a soccer game scheduled for tomorrow, but today the big bowl was lifeless. Nothing was moving but for a flock of starlings that had gathered in the upper stands at the western end of the oval arena. Sitting in the middle of the soccer field on the brown grass was a faded red soccer ball. About three feet away sat a white leather baseball. The red soccer ball and the white baseball, alone together in an empty Iranian soccer field.
"What are you doing here?" said the soccer ball.
"To talk," said the baseball.
"You shouldn't be here. This is a soccer field," said the soccer ball.
"I want to understand this soccer. It seems endless and sloppy and all those tie scores, no winners and losers. Explain," asked the baseball.
"You wouldn't understand. You only see the beauty of things if it has a structure, if it has a winner and a loser," said the soccer ball.
"But what is sport without a winner and a loser," said the baseball.
"Ties are important. It is two teams searching for the beauty of a tie, to find that balance where there is competitive common ground," said the soccer ball.
"Give me a break. You're telling me you search for a tie and not to win. Yeah right," said the baseball.
"Of course we want to win. We want it. But we don't have to win. We can finish a game without winning. But you have to win," said the soccer ball.
"It's impossible to follow soccer. There are too many teams in too many different clubs and leagues with no organization. And the names are nuts. Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester United, Newcastle United, West Ham United. What's with the united thing in so many names?" said the baseball.
"Typical. All you know is the English soccer teams. Soccer is all over the world, played in every country with all different kinds of leagues, played on different size fields, in cold weather, in hot weather, played all year round, never ending," said the soccer ball.
"Too much diversity. Soccer needs organization, set up with one set of rules. It's too unruly," said the baseball.
"Soccer is the world. Unruly, messy, hard playing, life in all shades with all different cultures meeting on one field with one ball and two goals," said the soccer ball.
"Baseball has statistics. You can wrap your arms around baseball, and study it like a science," said the baseball.
"Yes. Yes. True. Soccer is not like that. You can never wrap your arms around it. It is too big. Too undefinable, too nuanced to be subject to statistics or mathematics. That is what makes it human," said the soccer ball.
"No. No. That is what makes it inhuman. Baseball is an attempt to create order, to impose order on the universe," said the baseball.
"Yes. Yes. You are right. You are always trying to impose order. But it cannot be done. Baseball is a fantasy. Soccer represents mankind as it really exists," said the soccer ball.
"I am going home. I do not understand this place," said the baseball.
"I think you should go home. I think you do not belong here," said the soccer ball.
"We will never understand each other," said the baseball.
"Not true. Soccer understands baseball. But baseball does not understand soccer. It is human to try to impose order. Soccer knows this. What you cannot accept is the disorder," said the soccer ball.
"Bye," said the baseball.
"Maybe someday we can kick a ball around together," said the soccer ball.
"Not today. Not today," said the baseball.