Hey there everyone. I'm going to take a minute to talk about sports, which are games. Specifically Baseball, my personal favorite of sports. For those of you who see video and card games as a refuge from the wide world of sports - I don't blame you, and please don't worry: this post doesn't represent a tidal shift in the content of my writing. I just want to be able to talk about sports sometimes, which, as I mentioned, are games after all.
So, there's this thing going on, it's called the World Baseball Classic. I found out about it because an Android application I have called Bleacher Report - has been mentioning it a bunch. At first I responded with: 'who cares?' Something about it just didn't seem genuine. I think it was an example of: 'well I've never heard of it, so it must not be good (or important).' This is an attitude I'm not proud of, but I do demonstrate it sometimes. When I realize this, I usually feel a sense of irony, because I actually have an interest in showing people things they may not have heard of ie: Independent Games.
What caused me to give the World Baseball Classic a second look is when I realized how many American Major League Baseball stars were going to be playing in it - but not for America. Teams from Mexico, Venezuela, Cuba, Puerto Rico and even Canada each have MLB stars on their teams. This I found interesting - not only does the American MLB employ a great number of international players, but some of those players are really good, and they present a real threat to America's ability to win this tournament.
So, about the World Baseball Classic. This is the third such 'classic' - so the name may seem premature. But it was originally associated with Olympic Baseball and the World Cup of Baseball. I didn't know there was a World Cup of Baseball, but my experience following the FIFA World Cup (Soccer) in 2010 was very exciting, and I am happy to see my favorite sport is participating on the world stage. The World Baseball classic is small - 16 teams, four divisions of four teams apiece. Fully half the size of the last FIFA World Cup. But I have hope that it will expand. Another bit of information: Japan won the first two tournaments, and is the favorite to win this one as well. One more bit; the US has not gotten any medals yet. This last piece, I enjoy greatly.
There is a certain sort of dominant attitude, I have found associated with sports in the US, that really bothers me. A sort of American Exceptionalism that makes me feel like a jerk just by association. I get a smug joy out of seeing the US struggle in the FIFA World Cup. This feeling is a combination of light disdain, at what I perceive as a bullying attitude from US sports enthusiasts, and satisfaction that resting on those laurels does not win the US any medals. In addition, there is a distant feeling that a thing that must be worked for will be that much more satisfying when it is earned.
I get a similar feeling knowing that the US has not gotten any medals in the World Baseball Classic. But this time it is couched in the fact that Baseball itself is an original American sport. And it happens to be my favorite of sports. And the US is home for the biggest and most lucrative baseball association in the world, the MLB. So, in a sense, the US is always playing the role of 'host' to the World Baseball Classic, because the very existence of said tournament means that there are other countries - at least 15 other countries, around the world that are serious about playing Baseball.
It is at this point that the warm fuzzies start to set in. I am happy that the country in which I live is sharing this game that I love with the rest of the world. It's like throwing a successful party. People show up, and they like the snacks, and the activities, and they mingle and everyone is happy. The US team doesn't need to dominate, I am content that the game is popular enough to have a competitive international tournament.
So, for this reason, 'for love of the game,' I want to see the World Baseball Classic get some press and viewership. Currently, it competes with MLB spring training, which perhaps isn't so good. It is still a young tournament, and I hope that the WBC will grow and thrive, and be a source of entertainment, inspiration and joy for many.