Posts Tagged ‘World Baseball Classic’

Take Me Out To The Ball Game, No More

March 11, 2009

Well the World Baseball Classic is over for me.  I mentioned in a post the other day that I was interested in it, but that was only to a point.  The Canadian team gave up 6 runs in each of two games and have already been eliminated from the competition.  At this point I am not at all interested in who wins.  That might make me a terrible baseball fan, but that is the reality of the situation.

I was wondering about the reaction of the Canadian media to this failure.  I didn’t expect much of an uproar, and with the Briar, NHL GM meetings, March Madness, and even spring training dominating the sports world in this country, there seems to be little room for discussing Canada’s performance.  When the National Hockey team failed at the World Juniors and later at the Olmypics the entire nation seemed to scream for answers.  Canada has been a middle of the road baseball nation for a long time, despite having a fairly well developed little league and amateur system.  I suppose it is hard to compete with warmer places like California or the Caribbean where baseball season can run year round.  I am not qualified to find the problems with Canada’s baseball program, but pitching was certainly a major factor at the WBC.

The fact is Canada can’t be a baseball super power until it is more widely embraced by young athletes.  I don’t think that even can happen with all the other sports options out there. The fact is as long as hockey dominates our nation other sports will be forced to take the best athletes they can get (many of whom are world class)

A podcast is coming in the next day or so, in the meantime enjoy this lovely video from last year:

Buy Me Some Peanuts and Maple Syrup???

March 8, 2009

O Canada Our Home And Native Land!

The almost entirely meaningless World Baseball Classic is underway, and Canada’s schedule kicked off yesterday with a game against the U.S. in Toronto.  The game will already be decided when this post goes up. I am writing it during the first inning with the score already 1-0 for Canada.  So there is some hope for the home side.  Baseball season always begins with a lot of fanfare for those who love the game. Even though we are 7 months from the World Series, and the WBC is in many ways a less than stellar exercise (I happen to love international baseball), the boys of summer have arrived.

A lot of people don’t understand why anyone likes baseball. They find it long and boring. I can’t argue against that because if you don’t already like baseball you might never.  I will say though that if you are a patriotic sort of person the WBC is your chance to get excited about the sport.  Although you’ve already missed Canada vs. the U.S., there will be more Canadian games, including the possibility of a rematch or two with those Americans. Give it a shot, I think you’ll find that the most pastoral of games is for you.

Why do I love baseball? Well for one I started playing when I was 4 and didn’t stop until after my 23rd birthday, so it’s been a major part of my life. I will probably play many more times before I die.  It’s a game where individual performance is paramount.  No one can help you succeed out on the field.  A great receiver can make a mediocre QB better, a great PG elevates the game of their teammates, and a strong centre will help his/her wings score a lot of goals, but in baseball your teammates aren’t really going to affect your performance.  In the same way a player can’t be saved by schemes or plays.  For example, Steve Nash’s game was elevated by playing in the seven seconds or less offence.  The batter stands at the plate alone, with only himself to control his performance.  Other than during ball in play situations, when fielders must cover their positions, baseball is a one on one game.  Baseball is not necessarily better than other sports, but this unique feature of the game sets it apart from others.  People often write about team chemistry, but unlike in more team oriented sports, I don’t think it’s that big of a factor in baseball.  I played on a team with some people I couldn’t stand, but I still had a great season.  Once you are at the plate, on the mound, or in the field, it’s just you and the ball.

It’s also hard to deny that the opportunity for individual glory is an attractive part of the game.  A dominant pitching performance is beautiful to watch, and there is nothing more exciting than a sliding triple.  Nevermind the joy that comes from a walk off home run.  In baseball there can be a sudden death style finish every single game, no matter what the score is going into the ninth inning.  As has been written many times before baseball games are open ended. Without a clock an inning they can last indefinitely, meaning no lead is safe until every out is recorded.  Baseball is a game of hope.

Hopefully I will be able to add a note to tomorrow’s post that Mike Johnson (who just K’d two Americans in the first inning) pulled off another big win over the U.S..