International Baseball Tournament A Winner
A funny thing happened on the way to March Madness: I got into this international baseball tournament. Right now I’m watching Japan and Cuba, and it’s outstanding. I realized I’m not sick of baseball – I’m just sick of our baseball players, and what they’ve done to the game. Frankly, it’s never been the same for me since the strike, and people like Barry Bonds make me sick. We might also want to rethink the name World Series as it’s starting to sound a little arrogant, now that our guys didn’t even make it to the finals of this.
Remember when the Detroit Tigers won the World Series and Kirk Gibson had that fun quote? Something like, “Tell the President to tell the Soviet Union we’re having a great time over here playing baseball.” Well, I admit it’s comforting to see all these other countries enjoying the game. And they play great. And they don’t stop between every pitch so the players can call their agents and their stockbrokers.
Plus, it’s interesting to see the cultural differences between Japan and Cuba as reflected in their attitudes. Cuba has that flair, like a South American soccer team. Japan has got an incredible manager. He looks like an actor playing a general in a World War 2 movie. The young players have a little more of that “Lost in translation” Japanese cool thing going on but it’s in the context of a very reserved, respectful society.
Ichiro caused some ugliness with a comment about beating South Korea so badly that it’d be 30 years before they won. Something like that.
But the nastiest incident by far was an incredibly bad call made by the American umps taking the go-ahead run for Japan against the USA in the 8th, back off the scoreboard, saying the runner left too soon from third. It hurt because it was way after the fact, and the umps got it wrong. It looked for a second like the Japanese team would refuse to take the field, but the old Japanese manager told them to go play ball and they did. 60 years ago we were trading atomic bombs for sneak attacks so this marks a much better approach. Peace through baseball, and I love it.
And tonight is fair. Cuba is great and Japan gets a shot at the title. It seems like a huge event in the home countries, and more power to them. Plus I learned something: It’s not the game that’s turning me off; it’s our players. It’s George Steinbrenner.
This international thing reminds me that the game itself is excellent. And Barry Bonds can sit at home and try and find a place on his body where he hasn’t stuck a needle yet.