Wednesday, March 8

Diamond in the Rough

Somehow, the World Baseball Classic is actually entertaining. I've been strangely compelled to watch a couple games the last two days, and I'm totally floored by the fact that is watchable. This came as a huge surprise on the heels of a well-boring Olympic Hockey run, and could lead to the eventual U.S. domination of Olympic football (as Troy Polamalu and Lofa Tatupu combine for 45 tackles and 6 sacks in a losing effort for team Samoa). By my account, the WBC (don't worry about that other WBC, no one watches boxing more than thrice a year anyway) has at least 10 things going for it.

1. Players can relate to each other and chase after a team goal other than money and babes
Money and babes are prime motivators, but in the rest of the world (and in America during wars that 75% of the population aren't opposed to), nationalism reigns supreme.

2. Pedro Martinez(ankle)
3. Hideki Matsui(porn)
4. Kazuo Matsui(respect for national integrity/game of baseball)
5. Barry(the truth, now in hardcover!)

6. Junk
After watching two days of world baseball I have come to the expert conclusion that four seam fastballs do not exist in the Latin world, which has made them elevate their game to the extent that they only throw ridiculous 92mph three-feet breaking junk. It's fantastic. Just hide your birth certificates and maybe you can get a scout to believe that you'll hold up for another eight years. Oh, you already lost your records, great.

7. The Cuban Defectors
Judging by quotes from team Cuba, they plan on using some version of the buddy system to ensure that everyone makes it back to the island at the conclusion of the classic. Hopefully they brought along their victory cigars.

8. You can take the tiger out of the jungle...
But when you put him back in, he's a tiger all over again. I've always found it terribly sad to watch great players that you know have tons of charisma wallowing on MLB benches because they can't speak english and hate white men. Well, here's your chance to see everyone in their natural environment, speaking their native language (except for Piazza, more on that later), spending time with a bunch of guys they grew up with. Try to imagine for a second how much fun Tejada and Papi are having with Fatdalis Perez right now. See- you can't. It's not comprehensible. It may even be incomprehensible. I'm confused just writing about it.

9. Completely Insane Fans
Living in America through two Presidents who fought over the big piece of chicken in the same house in Texas has washed away any hope of nationalism that my Grandmother had in store for my sister and I when she marched us around with American flags as five year olds, so it always catches me off guard when I see three thousand lunatics waving Panamanian flags and screaming their heads off. More than anything else I'm envious. It would have been nice to see a North Korea team and watch the fans cheering at gunpoint, but you can't have it all, I guess.

10. Mike Piazza
I'd try and make an argument that someone born in America, lived in America all their life, received their paychecks from American companies, and raised their family in America should play for team U.S.A., but in Mike's case, please Italy, he's all yours. I hope no one tries to steal second on ya'll.

For my money, I'm taking the Dominican's all the way, although it would be nice if they could get Pedro out there for three and a third every fifth day. But then he wouldn't be able to help the Mets find a way to blow it in September.

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