The World Baseball Classic
The WBC is over, and I must admit, I am one of the supposed "pitiful few" that were really interested in it (big surprise!). (40,000 tickets per game once it was past the 1st round is truly uninterested....note the sarcastic tone) Though I think ESPN grossly underexaggerated the number of Americans interested in it....and apparently couldn't get themselves out of their offices and realize that the rest of the baseball-playing world was REALLY excited.
I was rather disappointed in the American team. Not that they lost.....but that they were a reflection of what baseball has become in the U.S. of A. Most were homerun hitters, not terribly known for clever baserunning or superb defense. They were sluggers. Just like the players on our Olympic basketball team were simply dunkers....loners out to do it all for themselves.
Korea on the other hand was loaded with players who had all won Gold Glove titles (awards given to players for superb defense in their position), and every player was a capable hitter as well. Korea was the only team that went undefeated until the semi-finals, where there were beaten by Japan...the 3rd time they played each other (and they royally skunked us, I might add). Korea had NO errors the entire Classic. They stole bases, they hit doubles, they got the bases loaded and moved runners over. They hit a few homers, but it did not dominate their game. The United States, on the other hand, left players on base repeatedly because every player that came to the plate seemed to be swinging for the fences. When we did win (and we lost three times), we won usually by 1-2 runs (South Africa being the exception...poor South Africa). Korea was an example of just about every other team that made it into the semi-finals besides us. We made it because even though we were one dimensional, we were also very good at that one dimension, when it counted....at least until the semi-finals.
All the same, I am excited by what it showed. The United States didn't have to win to inspire pride in my American heart. Last night I saw a reference that at the start of the WBC, there were 178 Major Leaguers. At the end, there were 2, both on Japan's team. That to me shows even more greatly how baseball is America's game. It is a reflection of American culture. When Jackie Robinson was signed by the Dodgers (my team!), it sparked a discussion and a change in American society...it also reflected the change that was already occurring. Now, when you look at your typical Major League team, you will see players from the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Mexico, Korea, Japan, Chinese Tai Pei, Canada, Australia, Curacao (Dutch colony), even Italy....and other places too, as well as those born here in the United States of every race and creed. It reflects what is beautiful about the United States...that the melting pot is still here....and that at the end of that baseball season, the term "World Series" is not a misnomer....because the world comes here to play, thrive, work, and win.