Friday, March 20, 2009

Korea and the WBC

I leave Korea tomorrow to return to New York, but I'm taking R2D2 with me. I had to buy an extra seat on the plane but it was worth it. Being in Korea during the WBC has been an interesting experience. When Korea is playing, any public place (malls, restaurants, train stations) with a television (there's a lot of LCD displays here) is broadcasting the game. People stop whatever it is they're doing in order to watch the tournament. I know that a lot of people in the U.S. have a distaste for the WBC but people worldwide are paying attention and that is the point.

The U.S. is strange about international competitions. We generally assume we should win (i.e. basketball) but don't care that much. We root for our favorite pro teams but don't pay attention when our country plays internationally. The Olympics continues to drop in ratings every four years. It's unfortunate because these tournaments are important to a lot of people worldwide and it makes us look like a nation of douches.

But that's besides the point, my point here is that the WBC is a big deal here in Korea, certainly in Puerto Rico, The Dominican, Japan, Cuba, and I imagine a lot of other places. Baseball has lost the Olympics and this is the only true international stage for the sport. I, for one, am enjoying it.


cheshirecat9 said...

Roberto, I understand what you are saying about international contests. A few years ago during the World Cup I tried to be interested but I just couldn't. The same with the WBC. It would probably be better for America as a whole to be more interested in the rest of the world, but that is not how we are raised.

Jon Roberts said...

I'm sure I am in the same boat as other fans where I want team USA to keep going but I want Jeter back in camp. I think American fans would care more if we didn't have the level of competition we get during the season. The USA Canada game was fantastic, but other games end with the mercy rule. On top of that the MLers are protecting themselves for "real" baseball, as they should since that's what the paycheck is for.
A lot of the games are on the MLB network not ESPN as well. I hear its a better broadcast but it isn't part the basic tier cable at least where I am.

Roberto Alejandro said...

yeah, the lack of broadcast games is a problem. Yesterday's Korea-Japan game was on three different networks here in Korea.

I don't know if the players have held back, there have been a lot of injuries, and not just on the U.S. team.

I think the mercy rule is good in the first round. It's there to protect countries with little baseball experience from being completely humiliated, but by the second round, all the countries represented (Netherlands may have been the exception this year, but they had a good team) are countries with baseball traditions and who are good teams. I'd do away with the mercy rule after the first round.

Cheshire, it's interesting because back in the 80s, not that I was that old, but it seems the U.S. was more interested in int'l competitions. The Carl Lewises and Joyner-Kersey's of the world were big stars. I think part of the problem is that we don't have any int'l rivalries anymore. It used to be Russia, but now there's nothing like that to rally around.