I’m as jingoistic as the next guy (assuming his face is painted red, white and blue) when it comes to international sporting events. During the Olympics, I check the medal count at least four times a day and figure out in my head how many trips to the podium the USA is likely to make by Games end. If we can grab a bronze in canoe/kayaking and capture at least two medals in women’s boxing — hey, some of our gals can punch — then China has no shot at catching us.
But for some reason — actually, many reasons – the World Baseball Classic does not grab me by my patriotic lapels. Sure, I rooted for the USA (although, admittedly, I did not watch a single inning of our games), but I’m not disheartened by their elimination loss the other night to Puerto Rico. I should be over it in, oh, about five seconds.
There. That feels much better.
I think the WBC is a nice idea and it clearly has fans in Japan, South Korea, the Dominican and Mexico excited. But for me, it’s a distraction from Spring Training, which I hold sacred. It’s the one time of year when the Mets have yet to lose a regular season game, less than 20% of the projected Opening Day roster is injured, marginal players like Colin Cowgill and Matt denn Dekkar (why was he not playing for the Netherlands in the WBC?) have me fooled into thinking they’re future All-Stars, and I can still fantasize about a third place finish. Other than that — which is a pretty big that if you’re a Mets fan who is dreading the start of the regular season — here are five other reasons why I’m not enthralled by the WBC:
1) I see WBC and I think World Boxing Council. Every time. I spent the early part of my career in public relations in and around the sweet science. If you know anything about the World Boxing Council, you hear WBC and you have bad thoughts. Greed. Corruption. Don King. Maybe I need counseling, but that’s what rattles around in my head.
2) David Wright is injured. I knew this would happen. It’s what all the naysayers, players, managers and media alike, bitch about. What if guys get hurt or endure too much wear and tear on their arms and legs even before the season starts? Now Captain America, the Mets $138 million man, is likley to miss Opening Day. Probably much longer, I bet, or my name isn’t Whining Cynical Mets Fan. Of course, Wright could just have easily injured himself in Port St. Lucie trying to carry this sorry ass team on his back, but the WBC is an easy target. And I can’t blame the Mets for all of their problems. Somebody else has to be contributing to their misery now and then, right? You know, like Satan. Or a fraternity of Yankee loving witch doctors.
3) The USA does not bring its best team — for a variety of reasons, some good, some not so good. That will not likely change in four years, eight years, etc. I don’t like watered down beer or watered down ballclubs. Unless it’s the Mets. In which case, I have no choice. Cheers!
4) March Madness. NFL free agency. NBA and NHL playoff stretch runs. World Figure Skating Championships. Finals weeks of the World Cup Luge season. Just too much going on, so little attention span to go around.
5) The Netherlands advanced further than the USA. That’s the Netherlands. As in soccer. And speed skating. And tulips. Yeah, I know, Bert Blyleven. And lots of talent from Curacao. But still — the Dutch? Having a better tournament than us? Sorry.
Start the regular season already. For me, it’s Flushing or bust.