Wake Up, America: World Baseball Classic Lives Up to Its Name

David AllanCorrespondent IMarch 11, 2009

The Dutch have done it—they made the world say DAM(N) again.


It has nothing to do with the creative way with which they divert water around The Hague.


The Netherlands have added another chapter to The Classic!!


Now, I wasn’t in San Juan last night, so I can’t speak to what must have been an amazing collection of joy from the Netherlands and a sickening pit in the stomach of the Dominican fans.


That being said, I do know this.


People still talk about the 1980 Miracle on Ice. That was on home ice—this Dutch team was thousands of miles from home in front of a decidedly pro-Dominican crowd in San Juan. They still managed to stun a world power.


I have already read the killjoys and there “This doesn’t compare to 1980, because this time NOBODY cares!” posts.


When I hear stuff like I realize for all the great sports fans in America, there are just as many that are among the worst in the world.


I have constantly read from my friends south of the border about this “nothing tournament” doesn’t matter to “anyone.”


Not true, it doesn’t matter to you, and in your arrogance you think that 300,000,000 of you speak for all 6,000,000,000 of us. America, you are 0.05 percent of the world’s population, so if the world’s minority could pipe down and get past themselves for a minute, they might find out that something pretty cool is going on.


“Has nothing to do with a national pastime or a "US Sport" I think all these players should be with the teams and organizations that pay their damn salary. Fortunately none of these players were hurt and the fortunately for the fans who pay for the tickets they weren't hurt.


This is a huge joke and there is a reason they can't play in the Olympics, because no one cares about baseball in Olympics they pulled it! I could see a WBC being needed if baseball was only American players but the best players play day in day out every nite in the majors. It's not like there is some unknown player that is going to come out of this.


Not to mention that with the WBC spring training is even longer than necessary thus making the season start later and have players wasting their time in spring training longer than they need.

Yes the people in the DR and the Netherlands care because they have nothing else really to get excited about, which is fine, but to compare it to the miracle on ice, is r******d. It's really quite lame.

If you want to enjoy it because it's baseball and it's great to watch, awesome, I dig it, but stop trying to make it seem like this thing means anything except a waste of players being away from their real teams.”

Thank you to Norsemen-81 from www.cbssports.com for such an enlightening quote. I know he’s not the only one, but he encapsulates the feelings of the nay-sayers, so I don’t feel the need to post 1000 quotes that say the same thing.

I am glad he could ignore the contributions of Diasuke Mastsuzaka to Team Japan 2006. (Career: 33-15 with 355 Ks in two years in the majors.) You know the efforts that got him noticed, got him paid, and made him a member of the 2007 World Series Champion Boston Red Sox?

How about Akinori Iwamura—you know, the starting second baseman for the 2008 American League Pennant-winning Rays? That same second baseman that managed to lead off for those Rays on their run to the 2008 AL Championship—but hey maybe Norsemen-81 is right, there is no talent to be found in the WBC!

More importantly, the WBC isn’t for you, America! It’s for the rest of us.

Olympic hockey isn’t an attempt to make Canadians care more about Hockey. The World Cup isn’t trying to sell soccer to England, Brazil or Italy. The NBA didn’t go to the Olympics in 1994 to sell more Michael Jordan jerseys in Chicago. They do it to expand their global brand.

Of course, people like Norsemen-81 can’t see past their own small bubble to realize that.

When I started thinking about this article it wasn’t about the negative, it was about the positive. So indulge me for a minute as I have been captivated by the WBC. More importantly, I was captivated by the atmosphere of this "nothing" tournament in Toronto last Saturday and more impressed when I heard the players' quotes following the game.


I sat in the second deck last Saturday and watched the powerhouse Americans sweat out a 6-5 win over a Canadian team that had a bunch of big-league bats and not a single major-league arm in the rotation.


But it was more than a great game. It was a game that meant something.


You think it didn’t? Try telling that to Jake Peavy and JJ Putz:


"Peavy came in and said, 'Hey, when you get out there, take a deep breath because this is nothing like anything you've been a part of,' " Putz recalled.” 'Focus and hit your spots.' "


"That was definitely the loudest crowd I've ever been a part of," said Putz, the Mets' setup man who was Davey Johnson's choice Saturday as closer-for-a-day. "It was deafening out there. I haven't pitched in the playoffs, but I would definitely think this is what playoff baseball would be like.”


Then again, what about Jason Bay? The same Jason Bay that as of 2008 had never played in a playoff game, who was then sent to the Bean Town pressure cooker to fill in the void left by trading one of the best playoff performers of a generation.


All he did was post a stat line of .341/.471/.634 in 41 at bats.


When asked about being the final out against Putz last Saturday Bay explained,


“Nothing could have compared me for the pressure of that at bat.”


Or how about world series champion, Jimmy Rollins? Jimmy Rollins said, “This was more like Game One [of the World Series].


But hey, the WBC is a joke that doesn’t mean anything—right?


Tell that to Nederlands coach Rod Delmonico. Tell me that those tears in his eyes, that moment to compose himself at the podium last night didn’t represent what are great about sport. They’ll be a generation of kids that grow up in the Netherlands that now want to be the next Eugene Kingsale or Leon Boyd.


Canada has Justin Morneau, Jason Bay, and Joey Votto because of a national hero like Larry Walker.


Clemente was the symbol of excellence that inspired a generation of kids in the Dominican Republic that includes, David Ortiz, Pedro Martinez, and Moises Alou.


Fernando Valenzuela was Mexico’s version inspiring K-Rod and Jorge Cantu. Proving to them it was possible.


The Netherlands don’t have that single talent, but now they have that moment. The type of moment that will inspire a generation of kids to give baseball a try; even in a soccer-mad country like Holland.


These are the moments, the games, that make baseball special and the type that get retold, and make us smile every time. I’m sure it will get a catchy name like the Stunner in San Juan, the Marvel on Grass. That won’t matter, but the result will. It will inspire a generation.


The quality of the games has been there, and the drama so far couldn’t have been scripted better if it was written for the silver screen.


America you may not give a damn, but the rest of us do!


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