Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Globalization of America's Past Time...

What has been USA’s favorite sporting past time for the last Century, is quickly becoming prevalent in our World’s prime time.  The American pastoral game of baseball, born in the fields beyond New York City, (some citing  it originated in Massachusetts as early as 1791, takes on a new angle to the New York-Boston rivalry) is quickly evolving in to a global sensation spanning to the Far East, Central and South America, and spurt growth through Europe. USA can no longer claim dominance in baseball. Countries the size of an individual State, such as Japan, Korea, Dominican Republic, and Cuba take precedence of late on the World Baseball Stage.  Baseball has been seen internationally for almost 100 years, making exhibition and official appearances in the Summer Olympics since 1904. You would think USA would dominate, considering it was born in the original 13 States of our Union; yet, it’s a tiny country just beyond the shores of South Beach in Miami, Florida that has practically perfected our game, Cuba. There’s another Island power taking prominence in USA’s game due West of Hawaii, Japan

Every player talented enough to don a uniform in Major League Baseball has three goals in their career: Longevity, Prosperity, and a being a member of a World Series Champion team. Fifty years ago, these three desires were captured by young American boys living in Anytown,USA from shore to shining shore. That dream has grown beyond our prairies and ocean edges white with foam. The dream of becoming a World Series Champion lives in little boys in countries boat rides and plane trips abroad. The American dream has a new life through playing our American past time, baseball. When The Olympic committee decided to remove baseball from international competition, there was a void felt. Luckily, (love him or hate him) the Major League Baseball (MLB) commissioner, Bud Selig, felt that void personally(well, maybe a financial opportunity, as well).  The World Baseball Classic was created.  In 2005, the World Baseball Classic had its inaugural tournament, with Japan taking the Championship. Every four years, major leaguers have now added another goal to their list, going off and playing for the Country either themselves, parents, or family originated. USA is no longer the best in its past time correlated with hot dogs and apple pie. In the two World Baseball Classic Championships played in 2005 and 2009, Japan took top honors, beating out Cuba and South Korea, respectively. The United States placed 4th in 2009 when Venezuela beat them in the consolation game.

What truly is significant about the World Baseball Classic (WBC)? How does it measure up related to other World Championships? If you ask any seasoned beat writer or journalist who’s followed baseball since the age of discovering relevance (usually occurs around 10 years), the World Baseball Classic is as insignificant as Spring Training statistics. For once, I am going to side with Bud Selig, an aging and unpopular Major League Baseball commissioner.  There are decisions in an Icon’s body of work where at present day, it seems frivolous… Yet, when we peer back in time, it actually will reflect as a poignant moment. I believe creating the World Baseball Classic and seeing it through its infancy will be well worth it as we peer back 20 years from now. Being a baseball fan, I’m excited to see America’s game grow in popularity world wide.  What’s more patriotic knowing other countries around the planet not only enjoy learning and playing America’s game, they strive to be as superior. I cannot think of a more prideful moment than welcoming a globalization of baseball to challenge American players to display democracy and rise up to greatness. Truly, it’s a sense of accomplishment knowing players from around the World want to compete with the best Major League baseball has to offer.  The reflection of MLB has become a melting pot. Some of the most significant players taking the fields across our land are from Japan, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Korea, and Cuba. After successful and positive performances from such teams as Italy and Netherlands in this year’s WBC, we just might be adding European players to the roster. The Semi Finals, and Finals will be taking place in my back yard at AT&T Park in San Francisco, California.  I look forward to cheering on the teams playing a game my Grandfather and Daddy taught me when I was 5 years old.  Let’s welcome the World, let the umpire dust off home plate, and “Play Ball”!

If you missed viewing Canada trouncing Mexico, or Netherlands shocking Cuba in 2013 World Baseball Classic Regional games, Len Berman shared two perfect reflections and synapse of significance the WBC has with players and their fans:

 “World Peace

Ah, the lofty ideals of sport. Bringing the world together to foster love and understanding. Right. What was more shocking, that Canada trounced Mexico 10-3, or that the two teams staged an all-out war on the field. A "real" baseball fight. Punches thrown, a bottle hurled by a fan in Phoenix hit one of Canada's coaches. It's a good thing the U.S. exists as a buffer state between these two warring nations. As for international sportsmanship, who's kidding whom? The whole idea of the World Baseball Classic is to "grow the game," ka-ching. So what if some nasty stuff gets in the way. It may even increase viewership for the Mexico/Canada rematch whenever that might be.

Honk if You Love Baseball

You can't miss the Dutch at the Olympics. Their fans wear orange shirts, make lots of noise and go nuts for rowing and speed skating. Those sports may take a back seat one day to honkbal. That's what they call baseball, a sport that the Netherlands hasn't really succeeded at. Their best Olympic finish in six tries was 5th. But yesterday, thanks to a game winning sacrifice fly they beat a real baseball country, Cuba, in the World Baseball Classic to advance to the semis. Or as the official tweeted  "Nederland verslaat in thriller Cuba en plaatst zich voor halve finales WBC!" "Thriller" works in both languages. The Dutch don't have a phrase for "walk-off sacrifice fly." The closest they come is "weglopen opofferingsslag," which must roll off the tongue nicely for the Dutch Vin Scully.”

Keep up with World Baseball Classic news!

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