Tuesday, March 14, 2006

World Baseball Classic

World Baseball Classic (WBC), which presently is underway, is an attempt by Major League Baseball to create a national team competition in which the best players can participate. The event has given rise to some negative comments in the British press. See for example the comments of Gerald Baker and Bill Center in The Times and Kevin Mitchall in the The Observer.

This is a response to the criticism made by Gerald Baker.

1) "But such is the lack of geographic diversity among the sport’s participants that the traditional nationality requirements for representation seem to have been stretched."

Response: Only the Italian team has taken advantage of US born players to strengthen their team. Also, the eligibility rules of the WBC are not that dissimilar to FIFA rules which allow English football players to play for Wales, Ireland or Jamaica.

2) "After the deeply disappointing showing of the US in the Winter Olympics, you could be forgiven for thinking that the Classic has been devised simply to produce a sporting event the world's superpower is actually guaranteed of winning."

Response: Disapointing showing in the Winter Olympics? The US won 25 medals in Torino 2006, second most ever by the US at a Winter Olympics and second most of any country in Torino 2006. Not that I am counting.

3) The presence of the US territory of Puerto Rico "demonstrates that the organizers have had to stretch not only nationality requirements but even the definition of a nation."

Response: This is a strange comment of two reasons: 1) Puerto Rico already represents itself in the Olympics and in FIFA competitions, and 2) neither England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland are independent nations, but are allowed individual representation in most sports. Expect of course in the Olympics!

I admit that the WBC is not a perfect tournament and in my opinion lacks some baseball merit. Not because of player eligibility rules, but because of the pitching rules. I do wonder, however, why he British press always have to be rude and condescending towards everything that does not originate in Britain?


At 15 March, 2006 17:12, Blogger Dave said...

IMHO, baseball has more "geographic diversity" than cricket. Perhaps they should be critizing the ashes as well.

At 15 March, 2006 22:16, Blogger Torsten Pedersen said...

Yes exactly! Not only does Cricket lack geographic diversity (only countrys play 10 test matches), but the England team has in recent years had several players originally from South Africa or Zimbabwe (Kevin Pietersen being the latest example).

That said I actually like Cricket.

What I dislike is cultural arrogance. Like when Americans put down Hockey...

I also enjoyed Canada's performance in the World Baseball Classic!


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