Just a friendly little international tournament, right? Only a showcase for the best of the baseball world?
Then why was my heart beating so hard? Nothing like a 0-0 tie in extra innings to get the blood pumping.
They say that fans want offense, home runs…Bam! Bam! Bam! Like the Venezuelans did in the fifth inning of their game with Italy. You can always catch the highlights later.
When every pitch can bring victory or defeat…you can’t leave your seat.
The baseball gods—who among us doesn’t believe?—may have provided a message about the WBC: great baseball can happen any time, anywhere. Last night in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and the Netherlands played superb baseball.
The players from the Dominican Republic are probably hanging their heads today—but they shouldn’t. Their fans are likely in shock, in tears, maybe in therapy. Conversely, fans in the Kingdom of the Netherlands are on top of the world.
Baseball fans everywhere—all around the globe—should tip their caps to both teams. The Dominicans are great ballplayers. The Dutch are great competitors.
Just who are these international men of mystery?
They are veterans of the Dutch league—like Rob Cordemans and Dirk Van’t Klooster. They might not normally match up against the likes of Pedro Martinez, Miguel Tejada, and David Ortiz, but they have loads of experience in tense situations.
They are older ballplayers from the Dutch Antilles—like Yurendell DeCaster and Sidney Ponson. They’ve had a taste of major league baseball and they’d like it again.
They are young ballplayers from both Holland and the islands—like Rick VandenHurk and 19-year old Dennis Neuman. They dream of the major leagues and they are on their way.
Rather than provide the details of this game, I’d rather talk about the essence of baseball—moments.
Moments of amazement—miraculous defensive feats.
Moments of determination—foul ball after foul ball until a hitter gets just what he wants.
Ultimately, moments of anticipation—every pitch a battle, every struck ball a potential for success or failure.
They say that baseball is a lonely game. Every player is on the line, in the moment. But it is also a game of group accomplishment. Last night, the team from the Netherlands accomplished the seemingly impossible.