Well it wasnâ€™t exactly like the 1980 Winter Olympics but yesterday in the World Baseball Classic the Netherlands managed to eliminate the highly favored Dominican Republic by beating them not only once but twice in four days.
That being said, donâ€™t let me confuse you with my thoughts leading up to the WBC. No I didnâ€™t have it marked on my calendar; in fact I didnâ€™t really plan on even watching it. But like so much of my mundane television watching, I turned it on.Â
To my surprise, I have actually been entertained. Like many, I had been expecting an over publicized scrimmage between countries with players weâ€™ve been watching for years. At best I thought it might compare to a good All-Star game and at its worst I thought it might look something like the NFL Pro Bowl.Â
But just a few games in, Iâ€™ve see passion, intensity and a willingness to do what it takes to win.Â
To be honest, it has put a little spark into my excitement for baseball at this point in the year.Â
Normally, I just kind of drowned out the noise of hearing who is expected to excel this season because he pitched two shut out innings against minor league prospects.Â
Now if youâ€™re still convinced this only a glorified exhibition game, I encourage you to turn on the next game and watch the fans. No not baseball if youâ€™re really that disinterested but watch the thousands in attendance cheering like itâ€™s the third out of a World Series game at Fenway.Â
Itâ€™s actually quite funny to see. Most times their going nuts and its only a 3-1 count in the second inning. A fan of any team never likes losing, but thereâ€™s something about losing to your geographical neighbor that just irks people even more; and it should.Â
National pride is the best reason for these types of events and the Olympics.Â
Much of the negativity Iâ€™ve heard about the event seems to be from fans who donâ€™t like change. â€œItâ€™s too early in season.â€ â€œPlayers could get hurt.â€ â€œTheyâ€™re not even trying hard.â€
Well, why is it too early in the season? When opening day rolls around and youâ€™re team starts off 0-7 or worse, is it too early in the season to be preforming at peak levels?
Secondly, who has gotten hurt? Alex Rodriguez? His injury didnâ€™t occur during WBC events, if anything it was exposed by them. Yankees fans should be happy he opted for surgery at this point rather than in June which would hurt them even more.Â
Finally, if you think these athletes arenâ€™t trying hard, you havenâ€™t watched a game. Weâ€™ve become accustomed to not being surprised if athletes donâ€™t try even if millions of dollars are at steak. But when it comes to pride the WBC athletes refuse to give an inch.Â
At a time when College Basketball is King, and believe me it still is and will always be, itâ€™s been rather refreshing.Â
Itâ€™s filled that little gap in sports watching where itâ€™s not quite the conference tournament time and still not March Madness.Â
If you consider yourself a true baseball fan, or just a modest one who appreciates the competition, I encourage you to check out a game. Or at least, donâ€™t join all the opponents of the event who dismiss its existence.Â