America's pastime? WBC proves otherwise

wbc_2009_logoBaseball, or “base ball” as it was referred to in its early stages, can be traced back to the mid-1700s in Europe where William Bray, an English lawyer, wrote of  being witness to a game of baseball in 1755. Before his diary was declared legal in September 2oo8, the previous assumption was that baseball was invented in Cooperstown, New York by Abner Doubleday in 1839.

Prior to five months ago, baseball was “invented” in the United States. Upon the realization that it indeed was not invented in the US, the game that has been around in our country for over 125 years (Major League Baseball celebrated its 125th anniversary in 1994) is still dubbed America’s pastime.

In the early 20th century, it was not uncommon for men to share their childhood baseball stories and experiences with their children, and then those stories would be passed on to their grandchildren, so on and so forth.

Now, with the explosion of baseball’s television exposure, more and more people resort to watching the games through a cathode ray tube or LCD/plasma screens instead of the original lens, their eyes. Therefore, stories of children going to baseball games with their fathers have gone by the wayside.

This makes me wonder if baseball is still America’s pastime.

Football was invented in America, and it is by all means a true American sport. It’s the most popular sport in America right now. Hardly any other country in the world even plays the same game, since what is known as “football” abroad is merely just American soccer.

I think baseball is rapidly losing its monicker as America’s pastime simply because of the declining interest in the sport. A game lasts generally two-and-a-half to three hours with no definitive end and it isn’t as exciting as football since it is not as physical in nature.

Also, back in its heyday, baseball was dominated by whites. Then, only whites were permitted to play the sport in the professional ranks and generally only whites were allowed in the stadiums or could even afford to go to the games. It wasn’t until the formation of Negro Leagues and when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier on April 15, 1947 that the influx of non-white players began to show.

As of the 2007 season, about 60 percent of the players in the MLB were white, about 29 percent were Latino, 8 percent were African-American and just over 2 percent were Asian.

The World Baseball Classic in 2006 gives us another example as to why baseball is rapidly becoming a foreign game rather than an American game. That year, the United States failed to make it out of the first round of 16 teams and Japan went on to win the inaugural Classic by beating Cuba in the finals 10-6.

In the 2009 WBC, which is currently in progress, the United States has avenged its lackluster 2006 performance and made it out of the first round, but with an overall record of 3-2, it is only one loss away from elimination after losing to Puerto Rico via mercy rule 11-1 on Saturday.

On Sunday, the United States ousted underdog and feel-good-story Netherlands (who defeated the highly-favored Dominican Republic twice, by 3-2 and 2-1 margins) in its first elimination game of the tournament.

Venezuela and Puerto Rico play Monday night, and the loser plays USA on Tuesday. The loser of Tuesday’s game is eliminated from the tournament.

At 4-0, perennial powerhouse Puerto Rico is the only remaining undefeated team and in its four games has outscored its opponents by a 26-2 margin.

The United States team, with only four non-white players (New York Yankee Derek Jeter, Philidelphia Phillies teammates Shane Victorino and Jimmy Rollins and Detroit Tiger Curtis Granderson) have to play exceptional baseball if they wish to play in the finals.

Netherlands has been the latest team to be eliminated, and the seven remaining teams include USA, Venezuela (USA beat once, 15-6, and then lost a few days later 5-3), heavy favorites Puerto Rico (11-1 victors against the USA), Japan, Cuba, Mexico and Korea.

Just watching the games on TV, it is evident America doesn’t have the support for its team as do other nations such as the Latin countries of Mexico, Cuba, Venezuela and Puerto Rico. In those countries, the entire populous is behind every strike, every out, every routine single and every error their players make as if the fate of their country depended on it.

Where are the Americans in supporting their team during this worldwide tournament (first round games were played in Mexico, Puerto Rico, Canada and Japan) of America’s game?

I bet the same percentage of Americans as there were white players in 2007 (60 percent) don’t even know the sophomore World Baseball Classic tournament is even in progress…

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One thought on “America's pastime? WBC proves otherwise

  1. sports has changed way too much since the I was a kid. I remember going to Tiger stadium with my dad and thinking it was the greatest thing ever. I collected baseball cards compulsively. Now? Baseball’s just this bloated, overpaid game that I can’t take seriously. It’s a shame really.

    i agree with you whole heartedly. this was a good post.

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