Since its removal from the line-up in the Summer Olympics in 2008, international baseball teams have played in the World Baseball Classic. The 16 team, tournament, played for just the third time this year, is a great way for fans of the game of baseball to still experience international baseball at its highest level. When the most recent WBC began play earlier this month, the world was treated to some high caliber baseball games as a sort of appetizer before the MLB regular season begins.
While this event is a momentous occasion, and it should be celebrated, there are also some downsides to the event. An example could be the brawl between Mexico and Canada which was something no one wants to see in what is supposed to be a peaceful occasion. After watching the first half of the WBC, Sports Editor Steven Wright and Asst. Sports Editor Dan Whitaker shared their thoughts on the tournament up to this point.
Steven Wright, Sports Editor:
I particularly like the WBC because of the chance to see the way the game is worshiped by other countries.
I was recently watching a game between the Netherlands and Chinese Taipei in the first round of the tournament in the middle of the night. I consider myself to be a pretty good baseball fanatic, and one who definitely enjoys watching “baseball” movies. Real life and Hollywood blended beautifully on this night as I felt like I was watching a scene in the movie “Mr. Baseball” itself.
In the movie, Tom Selleck is a washed up Major League Baseball player named Jack Elliott who gets traded to a team in Japan late in his career. During the scenes involving Elliott on the field, the atmosphere
of baseball across the ocean is portraying as somewhat of a more raucous group, with constant blaring of the horns and fans banging together what we have come to know as “thundersticks.”
In this case of watching this game with the Netherlands on
the mound and facing a Taipei team playing in Taiwan, the crowd noise could have been straight ripped off of the movie and you wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference. The majority of fans in the stands had thundersticks. They were living and dying by every pitch thrown. It was a movie come to life.
And with that emersion now taking place, my attention was
hooked onto the games themselves. Sure, the players are definitely showing signs of being in spring
training mode, and the pitch limits effect the game in a different way than what’s considered normal
baseball strategy, but the players and its country’s fans are into it.
And if they are buying into it, it’s good enough for me.
Dan Whitaker, Assistant Sports Editor:
Heading into the USA’s first game, I was flush with excitement about this tournament. Ever since baseball was stricken from the Olympic line-up, the WBC has been my only way to experience international baseball at its highest level.
So when the first US game came around against Mexico, I was locked into the game from the start, but not so much at its finish.
It’s not because the US put up a poor showing in that game, losing 5-2, but because of the poor showing of the US fans. The game was played in Arizona at the Diamondbacks home ballpark, yet you would have thought it was being played in Mexico City.
Every crowd shot I saw was always a group of Mexican fans jumping up and down, waving their flag, and decked out in green and red (their flag’s colors).
Very seldom did I see an American fan, and when I did, you could barely tell, because they were dressed in street clothes, and Mexican fans would frequently stand up and get in the shot.
Now while this behavior may be considered annoying by some, it also shows signs of passion and dedication to your team and your country. After watching that first game, my excitement for the games was severely tempered. It seemed like I was the only American paying attention. Even the hype on Twitter was at a bare minimum.
At least the play on the field has improved since that first game, as the US have won three straight games, including a 7-1 blowout of Puerto Rico in the second round. The caliber of this team has at least kept my interest.
However the fact that it seems like me and only a handful of others show any interest in the American squad is quite disheartening and it really makes the games harder to watch.
At least the other countries have enough passion to make up for the Americans, and that has made the tournament enjoyable at least. Yet the lack of excitement from the US fans has made me frustrated to be an American.