Hey everybody, guess what? The World Baseball Classic is finally here! Aren’t you excited? Personally I can’t wait to see Canada play Mexico this Saturday! I tried to buy tickets, but there were too many available, and I couldn’t decide where to sit, so I’ll just watch on TV.
See, I made a joke about the WBC, and you probably liked it because chances are you think the WBC is stupid. Well, you’re wrong. The WBC is awesome. It’s incredibley interesting to watch all these players giving their all for the worldwide stage. You get to see players much more interested in running out grounders, shagging the ball with two hands, and bunting. Fundamentals run amuck and it’s exhilarating. It’s like watching a Little League game but with adults. They want the Major Leagues to see them, and offer them a contract and the best part about the whole thing is that that is something that can totally happen. Players get noticed and get paid. Although, it should be the other way around since the United States hasn’t come close to winning the WBC yet. It’s sad that we can’t master the game we created, but it’s par for the course. We make all the money, you know how to hit and run properly. Oh, well.
The Padres lone representative on the US roster is the master of the slider, Luke Gregerson. The US has yet to play, but it will be interesting to see how Gregerson’s breaking ball can mix up the high-powered offenses in Japan and Korea. They aren’t high-powered in the sense we think they should be. They’re more like run scoring machines. They know how to hit, steal, move runners over, and drive in runs. They’ve mastered the basics that America has all but forgotten about since the all-mighty homerun took center stage. There definitely seems to be a lack of, what’s the word I’m looking for…participation, from American fans. Although we actually have a pretty good squad this year, I’ve been asked about the WBC twice since it started, and I write about Baseball. No one seems to care, and honestly it’s a travesty. I know most Americans want America to be number one, otherwise what’s the point? We suck at soccer, so America hates soccer. We suck at math, so Americans hate math. We want to root for a sure fire winner, no matter how much we think rooting for the underdog is better, especially when we think we’re the underdog. The WBC gives a platform to players we might well one day want on our team, and we completely ignore it. The old timers talk about how much they miss fundamental Baseball – well, this is it! The talking heads scream about crybaby athletes just looking for a million dollar payday – look at these guys – playing for pride! The fans say they want a faster game, that runs and hits and flies – watch Japan and tell me that’s not what you see!
The worst part about the WBC isn’t that people want to tear it down, or make it longer or complain about it; it’s the fact that no one does anything. Why is that? Why don’t we care about the absolute best game in sport being played by the top players from around the world who are competing for bragging rights and pride? It’s sounds like the plot to every blockbuster sports movie ever made.
I remember the first WBC, when the finals were held at PETCO Park. I was so excited about going to a game, and the electricity surrounding the stadium was euphoric. I was given a ticket to the semi-finals: Cuba V. Dominican Republic. The stadium was packed beyond belief. People who supported both countries sat across from each other. They were chanting, cheering, waving flags and hugging. It was like the World Cup meets the World Series, which is what I’m sure Bud Selig was going for. I have yet to see this many people care about any one game at PETCO Park. It was pandemonium. When Cuba won, their fans went off the rails with excitement. The Dominican fans congratulated them, and seemed to be in good spirits. In fact every one seemed to be in good spirits, even the people who didn’t care about either team. The hot dog guy, the dads, the kids, the media personnel. It was like we all knew we witnessed history. We saw a game that for all intensive purposes could possibly never happen again. Of course Cuba won that evening, but actually we all won, because we were there. I had never loved Baseball more than in that moment. It felt like the world had come together just to play ball. I guess it felt that way, because that’s what had happened. Such a simple, yet complicated game, enjoyed by billions across the globe not just millions across the county. A lot of people like to complain about the WBC, or toss it aside, or make fun of it like I did in the first paragraph, but that’s only because it hasn’t caught on in America. And, it might never catch on. Which is kind of crazy, but not as crazy as realizing that it might not need to. The WBC is obviously for the world, but since Baseball is American, we need to feel like it’s for us. Since 2006, we’ve started to realize it isn’t for us, and that means we can only stay interested for so long.
How do we fix it? How do we make people care? We don’t. It’s no longer important that we do. We’ve held on to this game for over a hundred and seventy-five years. Its time we let others play along, just don’t forget about it, because it might not be there when you decide to come back.
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