I am astonished and saddened once again that the US baseball team couldn’t make the finals of the World Baseball Classic. At least we made it to the semis this time around. But, alas, we just couldn’t hold off the Japanese team.

I’m beginning to feel more and more that the American way of playing most sports is just inferior to the rest of the world. Football – we’ll destroy anyone in the world, but probably only because nobody else except the Canadians play it. Baseball – we invented the sport, and we can’t even make the finals of an international competition. Basketball – after nearly a decade, we seem to be back on top. Golf – we’re pretty even with the rest of the world here, thanks mostly to Tiger and Phil. Soccer – we’re pretty much the laughing stock of the rest of the world.

You want to know what I think it boils down to? Teamwork, or lack-thereof. Why did the US go so long without winning the Ryder Cup in golf? We don’t know how to play as a team. Why have the Yankees been so poor when it counts for the last few years? They’re a baseball club filled with all-stars and MVPs who have no idea how to play as a team. Why did the Dallas Cowboys struggle to even make the playoffs this past year? Same story. Our American culture sets us up to aspire towards individual greatness, and as a result we suffer in team competitions.

If you’re a fan of baseball, you have to love the way the good small-market teams (the Rays in ’08, the Diamondbacks and Rockies in ’07)  play. How in the world did the Tampa Bay Rays make it to the Series last season?! They were exciting to watch. They were loose. They had fun. They played small-ball. They hit for contact with 2 strikes. They did everything, in fact, that the Japanese and Korean teams have done to dominate international play for the last few years – and I love it! I love watching the style of baseball played by these teams. I think the days of steroid-induced, ‘live ball’ fed, power baseball may be numbered. ‘Chicks dig the long-ball’ was the great commercial quote of the late ’90s and early ’00s. ‘Teams who want to win play lean and fast’ will be the new mantra, I think.

Watching the Japanese and Korean teams in the WBC is a cartoonish thing of beauty. Cartoonish in that the players bat, pitch, and sometimes even field and throw with the strangest-looking hitches, pauses, and twitches. Beautiful in how fluid it is. The body motions of the Oriental players is strangely reminiscent of the early days of the major leagues. Maybe we Americans should get back to our roots. After falling short in the ’06 WBC, the ’08 Olympics, and now the ’09 WBC, it couldn’t hurt. Kudos to Japan and Korea for setting up what should be an incredibly entertaining final tomorrow.

I’ll be supporting Korea since Japan knocked my country out of the competition. Plus I drive a Korean car…

One Response to “well…”

  1. Theodore Says:

    Well, the USA did SUCCEED in the 2007 Baseball World Cup, that was without MLB players I guess.

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