Last chance for tickets to the Tuesday, April 7th game in Southern California! The A’s play the Angels, and there is a group of 51 of us attending the game. To purchase additional tickets (at $24/each, saving $9), we need another group of 10. My waiting list is half that number right now. If you will be in the SoCal area and want to buy tickets to the game, email me today at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now that the much-talked event is underway, I’m curious to know how you feel now about the World Baseball Classic. Of course, it’s somewhat disingenuous that I ask this on the day following the nail-biting, shocking, tremendous second game between the powerhouse Dominican Republic, starring Reyes, Taveras, Cano, Ramirez, Ortiz, Tejada, Guillen, Aybar, Cruz, and Olivo and the Netherlands, who not only upset the Dominican team once, but twice in this contest! For those of you who couldn’t watch, or simply didn’t care to, in addition to Sunday’s shocking win; where they held the DR to eight hits and two runs, all while scoring three runs of their own; on three infield hits, the Netherlands scored the game-wining run yesterday in the bottom of the 11th inning--only the third run of the game--stunning one of the best teams in the world and advancing to the next round.
I’ve heard all the objections to the WBC, and I get it, I really do. I understand that the World Baseball Classic takes MLB players away from Spring Training; it exposes them to additional injury risks; especially at a time when their bodies aren’t used to the rigors of everyday play and the high level of competition. I also understand that the World Series could be played in the snow this year. I get why some players choose not to participate and why managers are relieved when theirs turn it down.
But what you just have to see to believe is the sheer excitement that comes with the games. There is something magical when a country out of nowhere, with no MLB stars to boast of, can beat a team with some of the very best players the MLB has to offer.
The world seems smaller, and more connected, when you think of the player who knows his name will be displayed on a big-time United States sports channel--likely for the only time in his life.
Even our own A’s players feel a sense as if being picked for an All-Star team; both have expressed that it was an honor to be chosen; Ziegler for Team USA, and Denofia for Italy. All you have to do is look into the U.S. dugout during a game; despite being filled with stars that make more money than the GDPs of some of their rival countries--they want to win the game. They want Team USA to shine in world competition, and they want to be a part of it.
It’s not hard to enjoy the games; especially coming off a masterful recent Olympics, it’s natural to side with and root for your native country, whatever that may be. It’s not hard to cheer for the Netherlands; the cannon fodder of the first round, as they now find themselves advancing to Florida (the U.S. team will advance as well). Try telling the Dutch manager, Rod Delmonico, how the WBC doesn’t matter:
Delmonico had to fight off tears during his postgame news conference when talking about his team. "I am a blessed man to have had the opportunity to manage them," he said of his Netherlands players.
And try to convince these two that they should be at Spring Training:
"He really wanted to do it and thoroughly enjoyed the experience and said it was one of the highlights of his career," Axelrod said of Peavy's participation in 2006.
Washington Nationals’ Adam Dunn: “In the ninth inning, if your blood wasn't boiling and your heart wasn't pounding, you don't have a heartbeat. This is the best experience I have ever had in baseball.”
Maybe it’s because the semi-finals and finals are in my backyard this year. Maybe it’s because I just miss competitive baseball games. Maybe it’s because I have a sense of country pride this year. For whatever reason, the WBC has been a treat so far, and as a baseball fan, I think you’re missing out if you don’t give it a shot.
The United States will play Venezuela today at 3:30. There will be a game thread.