I Just Watched Playoff Baseball in March

2009 March 24
by CajoleJuice


I love using ESPN banners.

I love using ESPN banners.

Korea vs. Japan = Yankees vs. Red Sox. I would say Mets vs. Phillies, but they can’t manage to make the playoffs at the same time. Not that either MLB rivalry is comparable, considering those involve a few states, not entire  nations. (Red Sox Nation doesn’t count, cockbags.)

But really, the World Baseball Classic final between Korea and Japan was probably the most intense, well-played, emotional baseball game I will see for six months. Amazing defense was on display. Perfect bunts were executed. Helmets exploded. Thundersticks were utilized excessively by a sellout crowd. Guys ran into walls. Opportunities were blown. Leads were choked away. A legend came through in the clutch. It was everything a baseball game should be, with the added drama of two nations who have hated each other for longer than they have played baseball. This game alone has made me pine for a time when the WBC is actually an international tournament on the scale of the World Cup. A time when the United States manages to finally take it seriously. A time when every round consists of at least a best-of-3 series, and the MLB season actually takes a backseat to the WBC every four years. Maybe Bud Selig has accomplished something here.

Case in point: I was glued to my seat at 1 AM in the morning watching Ichiro manufacture an insane at-bat to win the game for Japan. The dude fouled off a pitch that bounced in the dirt and one that was almost at his head. When he finally got a pitch down the middle, he slapped it right back from whence it came. It was fucking awesome. Sure, first base was open and the South Korean manager probably should have walked him, but I think some sort of Asian pride came into play there. Maybe I’m just a ignorant asshole, but that’s what I thought — and I liked it. It made the entire tournament come down to a moment straight out of a script I could have written as a 10-year-old. As a result, Ichiro’s legend only continues to grow. Most Americans love him, so I really can’t imagine how much of a national hero he is in Japan at this point.

So while it was great to see David Wright pull his own mini-Ichiro a few games back, I would have definitely preferred to see it happen in the FINAL. We better send the best talent we have available in four years. I don’t want to see the 2013 equivalent of C.C. Sabathia staying back in southern Florida. Not that he would’ve made a difference, since he sucks in the beginning of the year anyway. I am just jealous seeing Japan once again take this tournament. And Korea finish ahead of us again.

Ok, I’m going to take a step back here. This is never going to be the World Cup, at least not in the foreseeable future. There are only four legitimately great international teams: USA, Cuba, Korea, and Japan. I was about to include the Dominican Republic, and then I remembered they lost to the Netherlands twice. So yeah, not a very big lineup to create a truly worldwide tournament. Oh well. I enjoyed this iteration of the WBC way more than I thought possible, and for that I am grateful. Now the MLB season needs to start tomorrow. I am not joking. MAKE IT HAPPEN.

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