Shannon and I see eye to eye on most things, but every so often something comes up that we diverge on (for example, I actually like some of Sting’s work after The Police)
The WBC is one thing we disagree on. Shannon thinks the WBC is a money grab by MLB – clearly designed to sell him more jerseys. I on the other hand see the long-term potential in the WBC for turning baseball into a more global sport on par with soccer, and even to a lesser extent basketball.
With the news out this week that Captain America injured himself while playing for Team USA and may miss Opening Day, many in Mets fandom have started complaining about the tournament (again), specifically stating that there is nothing left for them to watch and they won’t bother, especially if the US doesn’t advance into the Championship Round. (Note, as I write this on Friday night the US is losing 4-0 to Puerto Rico).
This type of attitude will do nothing to halt the progress of the WBC, but sadly it will mean many fans will miss out on some very well-played and exciting baseball.
What it comes down to is simple: are you only a Mets fan, or are you a baseball fan? It is possible to be both.
Sports passion in the US – regardless of the sport – is often focused more around teams and individual players. There are exceptions, but usually at lower, more localized levels – high school basketball in Indiana, hockey in Minnesota, or football in Texas. When we start looking at the professional level, the passion for the games has been replaced by enthusiasm for teams.
The tournament on the other hand isn’t about any individual player, or about any specific professional team. It’s about the spirit of the game and how it transcends national and cultural boundaries. Just go to one of these games where the US isn’t involved – the fans are intense. They are caught up in every pitch, in every swing. I attended the first WBC in San Diego and I have never experienced fans like the Japanese fans. The ballpark the night they won was electric.
Are the best players playing right now? Some are and some aren’t – that’s a debate for another time. But is this exciting baseball? Absolutely! So look beyond the blue & orange, and beyond the stars and stripes and see this as a celebration of the game.