January 8, 2013
Was it just me, or did this New Year’s celebration seem particularly uneventful to you? Perhaps it was the fact that our Seaside fireworks display was cancelled due to windy weather – and I actually got up from a nap just to see them! But even with pyrotechnics I still think the revelry would have been subdued this year. The nation’s “fiscal cliff” hangover (and the media overkill) probably kept us all from imbibing in our own personal champagne hangover. And we can’t ignore the general sense of uncertainty about where the nation is heading in 2013 – into economic recovery? back into recession? continuing world domination or inevitable decline and marginalization? So many questions and no credible answers. But regardless of how uncertain the times, baseball continues to mark them (think Terrence Mann, in Field of Dreams). To do our part in leading the country forward, B.A.B.E.S. will boldly go global this year by including a competition involving the World Baseball Classic.
That’s right, 2013 marks the third triennial WBC, with this year’s competition expected to be the most competitive yet. In my homage to Bud Selig (Love your enemies, Part II), I forgot to mention Bud’s efforts to take America’s pastime around the world through the creation of the World Baseball Classic. Most Americans (and American players) haven’t given it much attention, but perhaps that is explained by the fact that the USA has not yet won the title. Japan is going for its third straight, but the real news is that there were 16 nations that competed for the 4 wild card slots in the 16 team tournament (Spain, Canada, Brazil and Chinese Taipei, a/k/a Taiwan, qualified). That means there were 28 countries fielding teams and dreaming of post-season baseball, including Israel, South Africa, Philippines and the Czech Republic. Ok, it will actually be pre-season, in March, but how can we not be encouraged about the state of world affairs when this many nations from such varied backgrounds have come to embrace life’s greatest game?
The 16 teams that made the field are set to begin Group play on March 2, and I will reveal the competition guidelines in a later post. For now, take a look at the match-ups at worldbaseballclassic.com and start thinking about your picks. World peace may depend on it. Or at least our nation’s self-esteem. Or maybe it’s just a way to open the baseball season a little early. That is enough to make me excited about 2013.
P.S. The 2013 Hall of Fame class will be announced at 2 pm ET, tomorrow. I have many thoughts about the candidates, but decided to save them until after we hear how the 600 BBWAA ballots were cast. It should be very interesting to see how the votes come out. I’m pulling for two of the Killer B’s, Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell.