Two-bit Post Facto Lame Observations on the WBC (or Why I Love the WBC Deptite its Tremendously Obvious Flaws

>> Monday

Aside from those that would be more apt to bring up during the opening round, e.g. the questionable legitimacy of several players' ethnic ties to the teams they represent or the hilariously ethnic names of the native Italian players (Matt's favorite: Giuseppe Mazzanti), here are some of the things I've enjoyed most about the WBC through the first two incarnations of the experiment.

The shittiness of the U.S. roster. This one's been analyzed to death by both WBC detractors and by those who want to take it seriously, but it still bears a mention. Back in '06, I remember thinking, "Who the fuck are Gary Majewski and Brian Schnieder?" And 2009 didn't disappoint anyone browsing the roster for "Who the fuck...?"s. But I think even funnier than the barrel-scrapage for pitchers and catchers was the fact that the starting 1B in USA's elimination game was Mark DeRosa, a guy playing out of position (and arguably out of country, as I assume he has more Italian blood than Kasey Olenberger or Chris Cooper).

The motivation disparity. If you were on the Cuban team, your failure to win the championship drew the ire of your supreme dictator, who basically calls you a disgraceful waste of human existence and who could--I assume--excecute your ass on a whim. If you were on the US team, your failure to win drew the ire of... your dad maybe?

The gaudy / retro / baffling uniforms. I only wish that the U.S. would've taken a cue from their WBC foes and the Washington Nationals' forthcoming alternate cap.

How shamelessly I racially profile baseball players. I don't know what's sadder--the fact that I shoehorned every player's style into some watered-down archetype of "typical Asian / Latino / Mexican player" or the fact that, for me, these archetypes are all still guys who played for the mid-'90s Dodgers. Every time I tried to size up a Mexican pitcher's stuff, it was, "He reminds me a lot of Ismael Valdez." Pathetic.

How shamelessly I racially profile everyone. If it weren't enough for me to shoehorn anonymous foreigndudes into flimsy baseball player archetypes, I managed to pair every nuance of their games with some ignorant or borderline-offensive stereotype of their culture. You can use your imagination to materialize these if you wish, but let's just say they involve samurai swords, salsa dancing, and scenes from A Fistful of Dollars and The Karate Kid.

How much I envy the fans of non-U.S. teams. Anyone who's read this blog for a while knows that I've become pretty jaded when it comes to emotional investment in team allegiances. The last few years, my lone outlet for irrational exhuberance and despair (today: crippling despair) has been Marquette basketball, but when it comes to pro teams, it's hard to find that place without a diehard by my side and/or beer. My mildly tortured emotions during the final week of the AL Central race last year gave me hope that I'm not quite dead inside, but still--for as much as I put the sport on a pedestal, I wish I could feel the same about a baseball team as I do about Marquette basketball or my yet-to-be-conceived child.

Joe Morgan trying to pronounce the names of Korean and Japanese players. It's funny. Have a listen if you can find a good clip before it's vaporized by the DMCA ray gun.

Anyway, feel free to add your own ramblings on the WBC if you're also looking for something benign and sports-related to draw your mind away from a certain basketball game that shall not be mentioned.


Anonymous,  3:14 AM  

Really? Are we entire days into the MLS season without Mike finding a reason to hate Seattle? And I was looking forward to a convoluted reason to express rage...

Mike 2:13 PM  

Given the clusterfuck that is the Fire's front office, I think at this point I envy Seattle (whose FO is doing everything right) than hate them. Gimme a season or two.

As far as the WBC goes, I also personally love the idea. I just don't have the attention span anymore to sit down and watch baseball when there's the NCAA tournament going on.

My suggestions for how to improve it for next time.

1.) Hold it in the middle of winter, so there's less of a "Oh, we need to get ready for the season" excuse and a full US team is available for selection without having to tap Mark DeRosa. There's more than enough warm-weather sites in Latin America, the South, and domed stadiums to provide a good number of venues.

2.) Set strict rules for players' Nationalities. The idea that (before he was hurt) that A-Rod could play for the US in one tournament and for another country in the next tournament defeats the entire purpose of a "National team." My suggestion: The player must be a citizen, or have at least one ancestor no farther back than a grandparent who was a citizen of that country, and once a player plays a single game for his country in either the WBC or the Olympics/Olympic qualifiers (should it be brought back), that is their country and they gotta stick with them.

3.) I'd also mix up the groups a little more. Here, the winners and runners up in Pools A & B went into Second Round Pools 1. The End result was that Korea played Japan 5 times in this tournament and I think USA played Venezuela 4 times.

Pool 1: Group A and C winners, Group B and D runners up.

Pool 2: Group B and D winners, Group A and C runners up. That wasn't so hard, was it?

Mike 2:50 PM  

PS: I love the Dutch jerseys. The Oranje are pure class. Orange is like the Dutch national sports color. Like Gold and Green with Australia and Navy and Red with the US.

Matt 4:19 PM  

Mike - the best idea on determining a player's eligibility I've heard is to just have the rule be that the player has to pay taxes in the country he's playing for. There's no way A-Rod would play for the DR in that case.

Also - your idea about holding the tournament in the middle of winter doesn't really work, because major league teams would put the kibash on that right quick, not wanting their pitchers to take on the extra workload after a full season.

Unfortunately, as much as I like this thing, there really isn't an "ideal" time for it, at least from a pitching perspective. The fact is that pitchers not named Tim Lincecum generally have a higher risk for injury, and major league teams are hesistant to risk their top arms in a relatively meaningless exhibition season (which is why, in my opinion, the idea of moving the finals to the All Star break will never happen).

Also, Vince - come on, did any of those players you racially profiled even prove your profiling wrong? All the Asian hitters have that same, short chop swing that leaves you lunging on your front foot and their pitchers all have crazy deliveries and throw some manner of a forkball.

Also, both of you need to take it easy on Mark DeRosa. You'll be laughing less when he's not saving the Cubs' ass this season.

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