March 23, 2006
Written by C.N.
Congratulations to Japan for beating Cuba and winning the inaugural World Baseball Classic championship. This was a tournament that included many of the best all-star players from around the world, with the U.S. fielding its own team of superstars (who ultimately and embarrassingly lost in the quarterfinals):
Despite having only two major leaguers, Japan won the tournament. Despite having no major leaguers, Cuba finished second. The United States feels it has the best players in the world. In this tournament, that was untrue. Japan, as the flying flags showed, was the class of this classic.
Personally, I probably rooted for the U.S. the most. Nonetheless, this outcome of Japan winning the championship is very rewarding nonetheless because it goes a long way in demonstrating that although baseball is an American invention and that American players are the most well-known and well-paid, that does not automatically mean that American baseball players are always superior to non-American players.
In other words, players from Japan, Cuba, and many other countries are just as good — if not even better — than many U.S. players. It was this kind of arrogant, jingoistic, and racist attitude that kept Black players out of the major leagues for so long. I would also argue that it is this same kind of attitude that leads many Americans into believing that Japanese baseball is inferior to American baseball.
Thankfully, not all Americans feel that way. One example comes from Jim Rome, the nationally-popular and celebrated talk radio sports commentator who said the following about Ichiro Suzuki, perhaps Team Japan’s best known player:
Ichiro Suzuki, as he usually is, was the man for Japan. He hit .364 (low for him), had a jack, stole four bases, and drove in 5 runs. He had 2 knocks last night and scored 3 times in the championship game. This guy is just a phenomenal player. Too bad that he plays on such a non-descript, go nowhere major league team.
The guy is collecting 250 hits a season, and no one seems to care. Granted, he isn’t all pumped up on moo juice, beef roids, and clomid, (allegedly), but there aren’t too many guys that are more entertaining to watch play ball. Ichiro runs like a deer, uses a bat like a magic wand and plays right field as well as anyone, but nobody cares because he is on the Mariners, and they have lost 93 and 99 games the last 2 seasons.
I know it is asking a lot to actually sit through a Mariners game, but do yourself a favor and watch this guy play. There’s nothing else in baseball like the guy. As agonizing as it would be to sit through an entire Mariners game, what this guy brings to the field makes it worth it.
Congratulations again to Ichiro and the entire Team Japan and let’s hope the U.S. has a better answer next year.
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Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Japan: World Baseball Classic Champions" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2006/03/japan-world-baseball-classic-champions/> ().
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