For many baseball fans around the globe, they watch as players leave their home countries and travel to the United States to play baseball. After all, that is where the money is.
Fans in the United States have the luxury of watching baseball day in and day out for six months of the year, and are spoiled to have every player a click of their remote away. They get enough. Baseball fans in the United States have no interest in the World Baseball Classic, and that does not make them un-American.
Chan Ho Park first came to the United States for an opportunity to pitch with the Dodgers. He is one of the players that left his homeland for money. Just recently, he was recently faced with a moral dichotomy: training for a spot in the Phillies starting rotation, or representing South Korea in the World Baseball classic.
In a tearful press conference, Park announced he would not be representing his country in the tournament. Park's fans were upset; he himself showed remorse that he would not be there for them.
Ryan Howard was one of the players who rejected the opportunity to play in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. There were no tears from either end.
If you are Ryan Howard, why risk injury and possibly millions of dollars to play for the United States that already sees him play all the time?
If you are the fans, why would you go out of your way to see something that is readily available otherwise? There are even Subway commercials where fans can see Ryan Howard.
Fans in the United States aren't going to be too eager to see many American-born stars play for other countries. Remember Mike Piazza playing for Italy in 2006? Wasn't he born in Norristown, PA? The very diversity of the United States that makes the country special is thrown away when American-born players are playing for countries their distant ancestors came from.
By the way, the last Major League Baseball player actually born in Italy was Reno Bertoia, who last played in the majors in 1962. Is the Classic is meant to go far down ethnic roots or represent the countries of the world now? The only Native American baseball players in the major leagues are Kyle Lohse, Joba Chamberlain, and Jacoby Ellsbury. Hardly enough to staff an American roster.
It is understandable why a fan in the Dominican Republic or in Panama would be eager for the World Baseball Classic: finally their guy gets to play wearing his own country's name. Even some of the game's biggest stars play for nothing more than country pride.
Unfortunately, there will never be the same interest in the United States, which will always lend diminished competition to this event. Americans are spoiled to their National Pastime, and get plenty of it.
It's just a shame the overall quality of this tournament will be spoiled as a result. It's not anti-American sentiment; there is just no reason to care.
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