So the world baseball classic has begun, with Korea currently having a 2-0 lead in the 6th inning vs Chinese Taipei (Taipei just had their second pitching change of the night).
I'm wondering...am I the only one around here who is excited about this tournament? I mean here we have, for the first time, a legitmate international baseball tournament showcasing the best players in the world. Each person is playing for his own parent country, not some adopted team in an adopted city in an adopted country. It's going to be really cool to see the guys from the Dominican Republic or Venezuela suit up and know they have a serious chance at winning this tournament (btw, Taipei got a single to lead off the bottom of the 6th, and then promptly bunted him up to 2nd base...despite being down by 2 in the second half of a game...). In an age when players jump from team to team all the time, I'm really drawn to this idea that these guys belong to their own country's teams and can have a real identity with those teams.
I know people will knock it. Not all the best MLB players are involved. There appears to be a huge mismatch in the talent level of some teams--hence the mercy rule. It might deminish a player's performance later in the season for games that "matter." A player might get hurt in the tourney and miss games that "matter." Not enough games are played within the tourney to figure out who is truly the "best team." And so on.
But this is something that will happen only once every 4 years, right after the winter olympics. It's an event the whole world will watch...or at least those countries with teams in the tourney. It's really an international event, where we can revel in the international status of this game we love. And yeah, if you're into that patriotic mumbo-jumbo, you get a chance to root for a national team you can be proud of, a team brimming with all-stars (Taipei's inning ended with a ground out and a strikeout, stranding their runner on 2nd).
Yes, the marketing of this thing has been a bit silly thus far; I think they're trying too hard to get people emotionally involved. But I'd just like to encourage everyone to give this thing a chance--maybe record it on Tivo and then fast-forward past all the inevitable ceremonial crap at the beginning of the first USA game, as well as the countless human interest stories. After all, how could you miss a chance to see the Korean national team, which has had 4 guys named Lee and 4 guys named Kim in the game tonight? (Yes, one of the latter is our pal Byung-Hyun Kim--1.2 innings scoreless).
...I'm planning to go to a game or two here in Phoenix as USA takes on Mexico, Canada, and that poor South African team, so I'll probably post some comments on those games next week...