The World Baseball Classic

For a set of exhibition games, it’s a lot of fun. Teams and players from all over the world showing off their skills, at a time when fans in the US are starved for real games. Thanks to fairly loose rules, MLB players can join the team from a nation where they have some connection. So Lars Nootbaar of the St. Louis Cardinals can suit up for Japan….

Speaking of suiting up, you have to love some of the uniforms.

The gold on red of Venezuela, reminiscent of mustard on a hot dog. Colombia’s yellow on blue, with a neat stencil-like font. Australia in green – a color that needs to be used more often. At the other end, what was Puerto Rico thinking? The fort is an icon of the island, but on a uniform? A bit too much.

The overall quality of the play is on the order of a high minor league – say AAA. So far, there have been the usual physical errors and a bonehead goof that you wouldn’t expect from an MLB veteran. Given the rather rushed nature of the event, and that many of the players haven’t really ever played together, you can let that slide.

What’s really enjoyable is when a team from a country you never knew had serious baseball wins a game. Italy isn’t known as a baseball powerhouse, but their team made it out of the “pool” phase to the quarterfinals. Same with Australia – who’s the last player from “Down Under” that appeared in the majors? The Czech Republic? There’s only one player on their team with any major league experience (Eric Sogard, who last suited up in 2021 with the Cubs); almost all the rest are amateurs.

The nature of the tournament – four quick games in your “pool”, then a four-round single elimination tournament to determine a champion – means that you really can’t read too much into winning the whole thing. A mix of luck and getting hot at the right time, and you’re a winner! It’s just good fun. It would be nice if they could do this more often. Maybe every other year. Or perhaps in the “off years”, put together a “barnstorming” team and travel around the world for a few weeks, challenging local “all star” teams to a game or two. It’s all about helping the game grow around the world anyway.


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