‘’ So, a lot can happen. Tim Wakefield and Smoltz are 42 years old. Matsuzaka hasn't been the same since he prioritized the World Baseball Classic exhibitions over the Red Sox regular season.’’
I can only hope that on reflection Gammons would regret this disappointing comment.
For anyone to call a tournament that the rest of the World takes so seriously an exhibition smacks of nothing short of hopeless introverted isolationalism. American sporting journalists struggle mightily to understand why ‘foreign’ players give so much to their country, particularly in the form of the WBC. Perhaps this explains why the Unites States has failed miserably in both events to date? As easily as American players give excuses to not play for their country, ‘foreign’ players quite willingly risk the ire of their MLB clubs and physical injury to put the jersey of their country on their backs.
It is truly shocking that someone such as Gammons, who normally writes in such a fair and even handed manner, would throw such a casual insult at a tournament that most countries have thrown their heart and soul into.
Just because the United States are tip toeing around the edge of the WBC, sticking a toe in occasionally to check the temperature, doesn’t make it any less valid an international event.
Just ask any Cuban, Japanese, Puerto Rican, Dutch, Dominican or Chinese player. Just ask Dice K. You can’t achieve greatness without sacrifice, Dice is paying back his sacrifice right now. He is, however, a legend in his home land. Why? Because he gave everything for his country, he put Japan on his back and pitched like a horse through the WBC.
To call the tournament an exhibition is not only irresponsible for a man of Gammons stature, it is also highly insulting to those countries who, unlike the USA, take the tournament seriously.
Give me a well fought WBC game between Japan and Cuba any day to a stagnant ‘show down’ in front of 9,000 fans between Kansas and the Twins, or the Marlins and the Pirates. At least in the WBC the guys wearing the jerseys are playing from their heart.