Just a few thoughts about my afternoon at Petco Park watching Cuba vs.
the Dominican Republic in the semi-finals of the World Baseball Classic.
Cuba seemed speedy, unbelievably astute in their baserunning and intensity on the basepaths, yet amateurish in their defense.
The Dominican Republic seemed ponderous and much less-than agile, most
of the team seeming to swing for the fences during each at-bat, trying
to be the hero. It all started out badly with a pitcher with a
Hideo Nomo-esque movement who seemed to bewilder the Dominican players,
and things never got better. The only run the DR scored was the result
of a bloopy terrible overthrow to first by the Cuban second baseman.
A friend at the game remarked, upon seeing Bartolo Colon versus one
Cuban batter, “it seems that the Cuban team doesn’t get enough to eat
while the Dominicans are well-fed.”
This seemed to be a theme after the game as well, when a senior
Dominican baseball official pointed out that the $100 million lineup
from the DR had just lost to a Cuban team that cost nothing.
In some ways, the DR has become all that is great and yet vulnerable
about the US in the sport of baseball, while Cuba and their win
represent one of the last feelings of amateur (although Cuba athletes
are professional in their own way) versus professional in the world
today. With their sleight builds, enthusiasm and team spirit, it
almost seemed to be a college team facing the Dominican squad.
It is interesting to note the paucity of Major League Players in the
lineups of the teams headed to the WBC finals (with Japan now leading
6-0 in the 7th). For a MLB-sponsored event, how strange that
there are only a handful, at most, players who actually play in MLB.
If that is what Bud Selig and his brain trust were looking to do, take baseball to a world stage, then there is success!
But at the same time, this tournament has also exposed the weaknesses
of the MLB bloated lineups in the face of risk-taking aggressive teams
who have different styles.
The sight of four foreign flags (Japanese, Korean, Cuban and Dominican) flying over left field at Petco was unique.
I think that the WBC is a winner and look forward to the next one.
It will be a fun night on Monday to see Cuba and Japan face off. I look forward to being there.