Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Netherlands Beat the Dominicans....in BASEBALL!!

One of the best things about the World Baseball Classic is meaningful baseball in March. You watch any of these games, and there is no way you can say this doesn't mean a lot to the players representing their countries, and the fans of those teams. And, like a good World Cup, amazing games and incredible underdog runs can really pump up a lot of people (just listen to the sportscaster at the end of the highlight - do you think he had a vested nationalist interest in the Netherlands continuing?).

But still......the Netherlands ousting the Dominican Republic by beating them twice is just mind-blowing, and is already in contention to be one of the best sports stories of the year. To just get a grasp of how amazing this is, consider that the Dominican Republic's pitchers have 518 career wins in Major League Baseball. The Netherlands' team has 95 career professional wins, and ninety of those belong to Sir Sidney Ponson. There are only two major league players who represent the Dutch in the MLB, compared to the 23 Dominicans. And yet, the Netherlands are going to the second round of the World Baseball Classic, and the Dominicans are not. This would be like Cameroon making it to the quarterfinals of the World Cup, and beating Brazil twice to do it.

And this is exciting for baseball fans for more reasons than just an amazing, meaningful, come-from-behind, extra-innings baseball game in the first half of March. The Netherlands represent only one of two teams (Italy being the other) from Europe. Any and every true fan of their sport would probably like to see that sport become more popular globally - that's why there was NFL Europe, and that's why NBA fans overall enjoy the infusion of players from Europe, Latin America, and China. It is no different for baseball fans, and if this victory gets some kids in the Netherlands or anywhere else in Europe to stop and watch a game a little more closely, try to pick up the rules, or best of all, go out and get a ball, glove, and bat, then the World Baseball Classic has done more for baseball than win fans' hearts - it's spread the good word of Baseball.