Sunday, March 08, 2009

WBC reconsidered

Photo by Elsa/Getty Images
I've never been a huge fan of the World Baseball Classic. Some of it is the timing. At this time of year, our guys should be with the team for Spring Training, doing the kind of work needed to get ready for the season. Instead, they're having to go full out for the tournament. It also has felt like an "artificial" event, manufactured by MLB to sell tickets. On the other hand, it's a great opportunity for baseball players in places where baseball isn't a big sport to play in an international tournament (for a fantastic look at such teams in Ireland, see the documentary "Emerald Diamond"). And it can showcase up and coming players, players perhaps destined to be in the Majors.

Honestly, I don't think I watched any of the games during the first WBC in 2006. It didn't help that the USA got eliminated early in the tournament, which killed any interest I had. But I was determined to give it a try this year, especially since the one of the first games was the USA v. Canada, a game which took place yesterday at the Rogers' Center in Toronto.

What a game! The Red Sox on the team certainly did their part - Youk with a home run, Pedroia with a double, and both flashing the leather big time. The USA team itself looked a bit shaky - they had the bases loaded twice and couldn't get a run across. But they held on and won, 6-5. It was really fun to watch a game that sort of counts for something, where all the "name" players played almost the whole game, and that literally went down to the last out.

What's interesting is how Dustin Pedroia is emerging as a national figure. We've loved him, his feisty nature, his will to win, his sense of fun - but now the rest of the country seems to be catching up. His series of commercials for the MLB The Show video game are really funny - has he taken acting lessons since those dreadful Sullivan Tire Commercials? And listening to the announce crew on yesterday's game, they talked about how Pedie is the spark on the USA team. His intensity, his desire to win, is what seems to be fueling the team. They quoted coach Billy Ripken saying how Pedie is becoming his favorite guy on the team. All the attention would make me nervous if we were talking about another player, but Pedie seems pretty grounded, able to tune out the distractions - even embrace them. I have a good feeling about his 2009 season!

And on the topic of our great young players, great news today the Sox have agreed to a five year deal with pitcher Jon Lester. It'll be worth $30 million for Jon - which may turn out to be a great bargain for us!

Looking forward to seeing this for the next five years!

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Blogger Ted D said...

Beth, I agree 100% about the WBC. I think the US team was a little embarrassed about how they performed in '06 and are looking to make amends. Doesn't look like Venezuela is going to roll over either...

And good for Lester. What a unbelievable story.

8:18 PM  
Blogger HorshamScouse said...

The DR came back from their embarrassment against the Netherlands (or the Netherlands Antilles to be realistic) and the USA progressed against Venezuela.

Australia just tonked Mexico: don't you just love tournament play?

My money's on Cuba to beat Japan in the final.

Jon Lester's contract is brilliant news. Forming the core of the club from homegrown talent is what's setting this Sox ownership apart. Long may it continue.

1:09 AM  

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