World Baseball Classic
Tonight in Tokyo something called the World Baseball Classic
(WBC) kicks, sorry bats off. Korea play Chinese Taipei in the first of 39 games
as Major League Baseball
(MLB) attempts to introduce the All American game to the world.
The game is already popular in Japan, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and Cuba (with homegrown players making their fortunes in the Major League), of course we have rounders back at home but it is a slowly growing sport in places such as Holland, Australia and Italy. It is with some interest that the American's have chosen this year, being World Cup and Winter Olympic year (baseball has been dropped
as a summer Olympic sport) to organise the first ever proper world event. Of course our own Chicago White Sox
are the real world champions, so it is unknown what the winners of this tournament will be called?
The MLB glimpses enviously at the world's true game 'soccer' and has also noted that most actual sports played by more than a few countries have their very own world cup. All except American sports of course.
But with the thought of a gazillion chinese kids running around with NY Yankees caps on and the next Roger Clemens
being South African, the MLB are belatedly getting into sports globalisation.
There is also the small matter of merchandising. All jerseys and caps are modelled on MLB logos, I can buy a red China baseball cap
with an roman numeral(!) 'C' on it for $31.99 or an authenticated South African jersey for $90. Nice. Other stuff here
So the Yanks are taking their pastime out to the world, and in the case of parts of Latin America, back to the birthplace of some the games' best players. Here in the good old US of A, no one seems to actually give a hoot. As I have said before the American's don't much care for national teams, and the conventional wisdom is the WBC is a waste of time, been poorly organized, is an injury risk to top club's players and nothing but a money-making scheme, all of which are probably true but, ultimately, they are kind of missing the point.
Contrary to popular belief there are other countries beyond the borders of this one and in the cities of Tokyo and San Juan, where some qualifying games will take place as well as living rooms in far flung outposts of the world, this tournament, given half a chance, may just be successful but with baseball fans pissed off that this interrupts their winter breaks watching players limbering up in Florida training camps, it does seem to be doomed.
I hope to follow it though, depending on how much press it gets. It will be a good measuring stick for the kind of media coverage I should expect for the (real) world cup in the summer. I always love these kind of events, I am a sucker for an international tournament or the Olympics and of course it will be hilarious if the USA team falls flat on its face (like they did in Athens) and Cuba walks away with the title.
Now that would be badly organised.