Sunday, March 19, 2006

Baseball Spoken Here

Now that my joy over March Madness has subsided as a result of Cuse's early exit from the NCAA Tournament, my attention has been brought right back to the World Baseball Classic, which I have been watching with great interest since the tournament started at the start of the month. Right from the beginning, I've been cheering for the Cuban national team, and, much to the chagrin of uber-patriotic, right-wing, US baseball fans everywhere, Cuba made it to the championship game, while the US Team was unceremoniously bumped out of the tournament.

Thus far, the WBC has been an incredible event, and one that has surely taken Latino baseball fans (as well as other fans around the world) across the US and around the world by storm. Back in the Bronx, people were debating whether or not Cuba could stand up to Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic's incredible lineups, and were taking sides based on national pride. Last week, almost every single Puerto Rican and Dominican watched the PR-DR matchup, and saw PR hand the overwhelming favorite, DR, a loss. Considering how much Puerto Ricans and Dominicans hate each other, the game became THE event of the month, and was much more than just a simple baseball game. It became a cultural battleground between the hated rivals.

Then, PR faced Cuba in the second-round, and, in a game that had the same importance behind it as the DR-PR game, Cuba was able to avenge a first-round loss to Puerto Rico, and confidently went ahead to face the Dominican team, with the winner going on to the final round to face the winner of the Korea-Japan game.

Boy, was that game was crazy. Cuba was able to pull off the victory with some incredible pitching and timely hitting. At the end of it all, it was such a passionate game, that the Dominican players walked up to the Cuban players and hugged them out of sheer respect. It was bananas.

So, at the end of it all, Cuba is in the final game, and will face Japan for the WBC Championship. US sports pundits were so quick to call Cuba "overrated," and now look at them. They are in the championship against another team that was counted out of the final, Japan. And now, of course, in a rush to come up with some kind of explanation for the US' ouster from the baseball tournament, pundits are making up all kinds of excuses.

Well, a long time ago, I learned a little something about excuses...

"Excuses are tools for the incompetent, used to build monuments of nothingness,
and those who specialize in nothingness, will amount to absolutely nothing."

Maybe if American MLB players got a little more serious about the WBC, things would be different. But considering the level of talent that actually DID show up to the tournament, that's not an easy call to make. If there's one thing that US baseball must realize after this tournament, is that other nations have closed the gap between the US and everyone else in terms of baseball talent. The level of play in this tournament is absolutely serious. I've had more fun watching these games than watching a lot of MLB playoff games, and that's saying a lot. People showed up to play, plain and simple.

And at the end of the day, that's a good thing for the baseball fan. :-)

Go Cuba! :-)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sure you heard by now that Japan took the Classic. Too bad, I was really hoping Cuba would take it home . . . :-(((

10:00 AM  

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