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Thursday, January 19, 2006


Worldly Baseball

The World Baseball Super Fantastic Happy Funtime Tournament (also know as the tournament where a team is sure to see on of their high salaried players get injured and torpedo their playoff hopes) must be a boon to genealogy researchers, both professional and amateur. With the news that Kirk Saarloos is playing for the Dutch team, I started thinking about which teams I could play for. My last name is Van Bibber, so the Dutch team would be on the list. I thought about moving to Canada and I like hockey, so I could probably swing that one. If France, Ireland, and the Ukraine had teams, my ancestry would just about be covered, and I'd have some serious reflection to do. And what about the political implications of the tournament, the whole Cuba issue aside? Colonialism's ugly legacy hangs over almost all of the countries playing in the tournament. For instance, Andruw Jones is playing for the Netherlands, but is actually from Curacao, an island nation in the Caribbean once included among Holland's imperial holdings. Doesn't that seem a little weird? Would players form Mexico (or Venezuela, Panama, or the Dominican Republic) want to play for a Spanish team? Seems unlikey. Puerto Rico is another example. Puerto Rico, which does have a healthy independence movement, was seized by the United States from Spain in the Spanish-American War, in a late 19th century move to build its own empire. In addition to an independence movement, Puerto Rico has a movement championing 51st statehood, and players from there could technically play for three teams. I'm pulling for independent Puerto Rico. In fact, while I still don't care much about the whole thing, I'm throwing my complete support behind Puerto Rico. Here's another political issue, what about China (as in Mao's China) playing Taiwan (as in Chiang Kai Shek's China) playing each other in the first round pool play? Seems like it could be pretty dicey given that mainland China still views Taiwan as a "rebel" province, and has lots and lots of nuclear missiles pointed at the island nation. Here's a better solution. Put baseball back in that other big international sports competition, the Olympics, and let the teams send their best and brightest amateurs to play against each other.
I'm still trying to figure out why Italy and the Netherlands have teams in the tournament and Venezuela does not. How did they decide who is in and who isn't? Why are American's playing against their homeland? I am just unconvinced of the whole concept.
i think Venezuela does have a team in there. i too am unconvinced of the concept. seems to be fairly ill-conceived
It does bother me that MLB doesn't do what hockey does and just pauses the season for two weeks every four years to let the players play in the Olympics. and maybe have a world cup of baseball (infinitely better name than world baseball classic) during the all-star break every year.

Of course, that would mean getting rid of the all-star game, which MLB would never do.
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