Pelota, The World Baseball Classic & “America’s Pastime”

I sat next to a semi-pro baseball player from Washington Heights tonight who told me I have to go to Santo Domingo if I want to see real baseball– high praise coming from a Puerto Rican. He said the Caribbean players in the Wolrd Baseball Classic are having fun playing for their flags, while the US players are doing it for shoe contracts.

Writing in Granma Sigfredo Barros reports on what Cuba has learned that Major Leaguers arent that different:

Así, “desfaciendo entuertos”, Cuba ha demostrado que los peloteros de Grandes Ligas no vienen de otra galaxia. Son de carne y hueso, cometen errores, sus directores equivocan una estrategia como cualquiera, los bateadores caen en slump como los nuestros y si no salen al terreno a darlo todo, a luchar por una bandera, pierden un juego, aunque sea decisivo.

Dave Zirin, via Repoz, uses the downfall of Team USA to highlight the shift in baseball borders:

Baseball, as we are endlessly told, is “America’s Pastime.? Yet increasingly, baseball’s “America? is not from California to the New York Islands but Caracas to Saipan. Baseball has undergone a profound demographic shift, where the number of players born in Latin America has risen to 36%… Twenty years from now, according to Sergio Rodriguez, host of ESPN Radio’s Orlando Sports Caliente, more than half of all players will be from Latin America. Currently 30% of roster spots in the minor leagues hail from the Dominican Republic alone.

And Luke shares my frustration with the lack of tourney coverage:

Where is a traveler to catch world baseball action when the U.S. Is off?

ESPN? No. Reserved for 30-point NBA blowouts.

The Deuce? No. Heaven forbid we pre-empt early round College SOFTball World Series action.

Network TV? Come on, Luke, you’re dreaming.

The answer is online or nowhere. This must be how NASCAR fans feel without SPEED channel…

Is this the best sporting event anywhere in the world right now? You betcha. So why has ESPNNews just switched back to press conferences with No. 16 NCAA seeds?

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