All Hail the World Baseball Classic!Cap'n Brendan
The World Baseball Classic might be my favorite sports tournament. Big shock, right? The baseball fan loves the baseball tournament. But here’s why: Unlike basketball, or soccer, or any of the other sports that play this sort of event, baseball is largely a team sport. You can’t load a few superstars on your roster and coast behind them to victory. The best baseball player on the planet is Mike Trout, and he’s worth less than a quarter to his team what LeBron James was to his at his peak.
It’s simple opportunity: A hitter takes, at most, 1/9 of a team’s At Bats. On defense it’s the pitcher who’s the most important player, and because Starting Pitchers only pitch every 5 games during the regular season, the best hitters are moved off that position early in their careers to get their bats into the lineup every day. In short, baseball requires more athletes to be performing at a high level simultaneously for a victory, not to mention a good healthy dose of luck, to achieve victory.
This relative parity is why I’m sitting in a bar at 9:10pm on a Wednesday evening, watching Team Israel and Team Netherlands face off in an early afternoon game being played in South Korea. The Israelis are already the tournament’s Cinderella darlings. With nary an international superstar on their roster, but bolstered by a depth of adequate players few teams can match, they’ve already won 2 of their 3 pool games. And right now they’re up 3-1 in the 6th against a team with several MLB household names.
This is the kind of unexpected drama you can expect from baseball, the king of parity despite the NFL’s many assertions otherwise. Let’s kick back, relax, and enjoy the real March madness!
Congratulations to tonight’s winners: Orinoco Menstrual Flow (1st), Appalachian Tendencies (2nd), and The Blue Fish (Second-to-Last). Have wonderful weeks, and I’ll see you all next Wednesday!
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