Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Good news in the world

The first ever World Baseball Classic ends on a classy score: Japan 10, Cuba 6.

Both teams acquitted themselves well in the tournament. At first some of the Cuban officials accompanying the team had to get used to the up-close and personal nature of the media coverage and the crowds, including some "Down with Fidel" signs, but even that calmed down as the sport took precedent over the politics.

The next World Baseball Classic is scheduled for 2009, and then repeated every four years (perhaps the odd year is to keep it from conflicting with the Olympics).

Our only question is whether it should be held in March. So many of the players from the involved countries are involved in Major League Baseball in the U.S., which means that most are not at the top of their game. This is part of the reason the U.S. didn't do so well.

More reasons are that many U.S. players a) weren't that keen on the WBC to begin with (their mistake) and b) are under contractual obligations to get healthy and stay healthy for the 2006 season. Yet another is that when you are competing for a position during Spring Training, disappearing for four or five weeks to play in the WBC, no matter the prestige involved, can cost you your job. Daddy's gotta put bread and milk on the table.

So maybe the WBC should be after the World Series, or held in warm weather venues during January before Spring Training begins. Some have suggested shortening the tournament and lengthening the All Star break in mid-summer, which might be a possibility.

The world tournament was a showcase for a great deal of talent, a lot of national pride for many nations, and some good, clean sportsmanship the likes of which we do not often see in other sports. Baseball crowds do not riot; they have more important things to do, like fill in their scorecards, drink Bud and down a "dog." It is a sport combining speed, power, agility, and intelligence.

If more countries were playing baseball there would be greater mutual respect and a decreased need for war. Or at least that's what we'll continue to believe until proven wrong.


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