San Francisco gets the 2013 World Baseball Classic finals

San Francisco to host 2013 World Baseball Classic, Jewish ballers unite to form Team Israel

7/25/12 in MLB   |   JoeKukura   |   450 respect

Blog Photo - San Francisco gets the 2013 World Baseball Classic finalsRemember the World Baseball Classic, that thing-that's-not-catching-on? Well, it's going to return for 2013, with San Francisco winning the bid to host the finals and the semi-finals at AT&T Park.

Dates were not announced, but the third installment of the WBC will kick off with qualifying rounds in the spring of 2013. Miami and Arizona will get the earlier rounds. 

MLB announced Wednesday that the WBC finals and semi-finals will be in San Francisco. San Francisco is a logical choice thanks to their vibrant and substantial international community. Which is great, because the international community is the only demographic that actually watches this thing.

I'm a huge fan of this international baseball competition, but I have to yet to meet one single other person who also cares about it. What can I say, I'm obsessed with anything that involves Cuba, and U.S. fans almost never get a chance to see Cuban players that haven't defected.

Blog Photo - San Francisco gets the 2013 World Baseball Classic finalsYou ever see a Cuban player get hit by a pitch? They love it. They are happy to get the free trip to first base, and they have a subtle technique of leaning into a wayward pitch to make absolutely sure it hits them. Then they glare at the pitcher in a "That didn't even hurt, you bourgeois pansy!" kind of way. 

If the Cuba thing doesn't do it for you, there are some other interesting angles here.

Team Israel at the WBC 2013
MLB had the incredibly cool idea of putting the big leagues' most talented Jews onto the new Team Israel. Players don't have to be from Israel, they just have to be Jewish to be considered for the Team Israel roster.

This is a great time to revisit the old Denis Leary "We got a Jewish first baseman!" video.

Big league Jews Ryan Braun and Ian Kinsler would be eligible for Team Israel. Gabe Kapler and Shawn Green have both already agreed to come out of retirement and play for Team Israel, who will be managed by San Diego Padres assistant coach Brad Ausmus.

Haim Katz, president of the Israeli Association of Baseball, told the Los Angeles Times, "This could be the most celebrated Israeli team since David met Goliath." 

I'm no biblical scholar, but I'm pretty sure neither David nor Goliath was a "team".

Team Japan Boycotting the WBC 2013
Japan is the nation where this tournament is most popular, and Japan and North Korea generate the most ratings and revenue for the event. Meanwhile, Major League Baseball keeps the vast majority of this revenue for their American billionaire selves. The Japanese have had it with this lop-sided arrangement.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Japanese pro players are threatening to boycott the 2013 WBC. Amateur players could still participate, but it would be highly unlikely that Japanese amateurs could beat other nations' pro players. Japan has won both previous World Baseball Classics, defeating Cuba in the 2006 finals and South Korea in 2009.
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7/26/12   |   ML31   |   3615 respect

I absolutely LOVE the WBC and plan on being there for the final in March.  Is it a perfect tournament?  Of course not.  There are flaws in how the thing is staged and the tournament process.  But it's still a great idea.  The only thing that is bothersome is I'm floored at the lack of interest from American players.  I would think they would jump at the chance to represent their country in their country's national game.