Anyone who has watched a few games of this year’s World Baseball Classic has to have been impressed by the quality of play. Teams from a diverse array of countries including Chinese Taipei, Korea, Japan, and even the Netherlands made for exciting brackets of teams vying for the 2013 trophy.
Perhaps no one is surprised that the Domincan Republic took home the prize, defeating the team from Puerto Rico 3-0 in the championship game. The Dominican team, comprised of very familiar names including Robinson Cano (named MVP), Jose Reyes, Miguel Tejada, and Octavio Dotel and managed by Tony Pena (now a coach on the NY Yankees), gave the international baseball team players with which American fans were familiar. However, the patriotism shown was exclusively for the players’ home country, as it was for all the other teams that participated in the classic, and most Americans watching were happy to see that kind of enthusiasm.
What is very evident is that players from all over the world can play baseball, and some players do it as well as (or even better than) Americans do. Someone may argue that the Domincan team won because of the Major League Baseball players on its roster; however, if a “world” league were established and those players could play for their true “home” teams, wouldn’t that dramatically change the face of MLB?
I think the WBC certainly is proof that a true “world” series is something that must eventually happen, hopefully sooner rather than later. In fact, I recall having a discussion one time (during a visit to Japan many years ago), and I was asked why we would call it “world series” when it involved only two teams from the U.S.A. I thought it was a valid question, and I had no justifiable answer for it, so I blamed it on previous generations and their penchant for exaggeration. Yes, that didn’t really succeed in explaining anything.
Now these many years later we live in a different world. There is no reason why worldwide divisions couldn’t be established, with those teams playing each other exclusively, with some exhibition games against American teams. We could all have our own “world series” playoff rounds in something similar to what we do now in MLB, but the difference would be that eventually the American winner would have to play teams from the other world divisions.
Can you imagine the excitement of whittling it all down to having a “true” world series, with say the St. Louis Cardinals playing the Yomiuri Giants (Japan) for the title? I think it would be an amazing cultural opportunity to bring the world closer together through the language of sports. Similar to the Olympics in its impact, I think it would be even more influential and have a greater impact if it were done annually.
I know this concept is probably a long way off, and perhaps the traditionalists will not even want to consider it, but I think the time for a true “world” series has come. The World Baseball Classic is proof that it can be exciting to watch different teams from countries from all over the world compete in America’s pastime. Wouldn’t it be nice to see baseball become the world’s pastime too?
Photo credit: World Baseball Classic