If any MLB fans cared, they would be primed to boo the effort of the U.S. team preparing to compete next month in the fourth World Baseball Classic. But, fans, like most news consumers, take their cue from the Media. And the Media, taking its cue from the apathy towards the Classic expressed from top to bottom in U.S. Baseball’s hierarchy, considers the world competition an annoying disruption in the sport’s pre-season preparation.
The consequence: U.S, teams haven’t come close to winning the international test of proficiency in their national sport: the Americans finished a distant forth to two-time champion Japan in 2009’s 16-team playoff: In the most recent (2013) Classic, won by the Dominican Republic, Team USA finished out of the money for the second in three tries. Will this year be any different? It’s doubtful because our assemblage of major leagues can’t match the national pride of Dominicans, Venezuelans, Puerto Ricans, Japanese, South Koreans, and even teams brought together by the Netherlands.and Italy.
We noticed the contrast in the two sports – baseball and politics: where the response to one dismal performance was an MLB shrug, and to the other – well, the Media has embraced the term “reeling” to describe (its) reaction to our new voluble president. The reality is left-of-center news sources are continually dumbfounded – er, reeling – because that sells. To the Midwest-centered mainstream Media, Skipper Trump’s occasional flummoxing statements are simply his flexing his presidential muscles. Only when members of his own national team react to his comments will he have a problem.
For the moment such a setback hardly seems imminent, especially since the Skipper is competing only with the liberal Media and not the Dem team, which, if you haven’t noticed, seems to have left the field.
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The Japanese team reportedly has the most formidable WBC roster, but the U.S. squad includes more star players than in the past. Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton, Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt, SF’s Buster Posey, Baltimore’s Adam Jones, Colorado’s Nolan Arenado, KC’s Eric Hosmer and Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutcheon – all returnees from previous Classics, head the position-player list. Tampa Bay’s Chris Archer, Oakland’s Sonny Gray and Cleveland’s Andrew Miller are part of a solid pitching staff that also includes Detroit’s Michael Fulmer, Houston’s Luke Gregerson and Toronto’s J.A. Happ and Marcus Stroman.
Among notable absentees: players with the Dodgers, Red Sox, and both New York teams.
(The Nub is a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey. Comments about blog issues are welcome. Previous Nubs may be found by scrolling below.)