March 24, 2009

Why the World Baseball Classic works... the US didn't win.

You know what makes terrible television? Spring training baseball.

That's why I'm thrilled about the World Baseball Classic that blesses us with its presence every couple of years. I think it's set at the right time, does a good job of mixing major-league players with international players and the passion behind the countries is fantastic.

The passion from everyone except the US. While Japanese fans dressed up like samurais and flew all the way to LA to watch their team win the World Baseball Classic last night 5-3 in the bottom of the 10th, Americans are just complaining about it. 

"Team USA is handcuffed because they're more concerned with getting players ready for the season than winning" and "The best players don't even play for Team USA" and "The World Baseball Classic is hurting our players." ... sounds like a bunch of sore losers to me.

First, if Team USA wants to be a glorified spring training team, then by all means they can do that. They still got to the Semi-finals of the World Baseball Classic despite a laundry list of injuries. Second, it's a pretty damn good team either way - any team with Pedrioa, Youkilis, Jeter, Dunn, Rollins and Wright in the same lineup would win some games. In fact that's probably going to be your 2012 Yankees right there. 

And if you are worried about injury to the players on your favorite team, maybe someone should enlighten you to the fact that it's actually possible for you to injure yourself during Spring Training because those are live games too, believe it or not. While the Red Sox probably took the brunt of the injury bug with Pedrioa and Youkilis getting hurt, it was more of a rash of bad luck than actually playing wear and tear in the World Baseball Classic. You can get hurt walking your dog (it has happened in baseball) or sneezing (again, it has happened). This doesn't put them in any more inherent risk- and believe me, the powers at be for Team USA are making sure that those players are avoiding a potential risk for injury as much as possible.

So is the only real reason you people hate the WBC is because the US hasn't won the two times it has been played? Are we suddenly Atlanta Braves fans now? That's half the fun, rooting for teams like the Netherlands and Korea. Following players you would otherwise have no interest in. It's pure and simple baseball joy. 

It's not a heart-pounding as the World Series, but it certainly has it's dramatic moments and is overall a very fun ride. So please, spare me the criticisms, maybe it's Americans that should take a long look at themselves in the mirror and realize that maybe our arrogant view of the world is a bigger problem than the actual setup of the WBC.

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