Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Winner Of The WBC? Baseball!

In an exciting finale to the World Baseball Classic that even the most casual of fans could enjoy, Japan beat Cuba 10-6 in a game that became a nail-biter in the last two innings. (Japan clinched it with a beautifully laid bunt and an aggressive slide at home plate in a "small ball" rally that warmed my heart.) I'd picked Cuba to do really well for the obvious reasons (they were halfway through their regular season, they took a month off to prepare, and they had the incentive of playing for a dictator who might execute them if they didn't perform). But I was glad Japan ultimately triumphed since it avoided tainting the first WBC with politics. The big loser? Hideki Matsui of the New York Yankees. If he'd played he would have angered Steinbrenner, endangered his consecutive game streak and put wear and tear on his aging body. By not playing, he damaged his stellar, god-like image in Japan and maybe queered his chances of being the manager of the Giants when he retires. And Matsui had to watch Ichiro be the standout player on a team that played hard and went all the way. If they just switch the WBC to November in 2009, it will be a winner for everyone.

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