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WBC should give us the chance to be proud

When did we stop having pride in our country?

Okay, that was a pretty strong accusation.

But as the United States national team gears up for its round of pool play in the the World Baseball Classic, the talk among most fans in the land where the game was created is not about whether the Americans finally have the chance to win the trophy in their sport, but whether they should be playing at all.

Rangers pitcher Derek Holland will suit up for the red, white and blue when they play their first game Friday against Mexico, most Rangers fans will grumble about him not being in Surprise getting ready to don the white, red and blue for the Rangers.

By comparison, Wayne Rooney would be eviscerated by his countrymen if he elected to not play for the Brits in the World Cup. Not even Manchester United fans would understand if he said he was doing so to keep fresh for the Red Devils’ run at the Champions League.

In other nations, winning international tournaments means everything. In the US of A, they’ve become little more than a nuisance. Why?

Fans will continue to use the same tired argument about the risk of players getting injured, thus hampering their team’s chances at the World Series. Who cares about uniting as a country in this cause? We as Texans have to keep showing that we’re better than Los Angeles!!

But it comes down to the one thing we don’t like to admit about ourselves:

We’re arrogant.

In our minds, the USA is the best at everything, no questions asked, you contest that, you’re a Commie. We don’t need to square off in competitions against other countries to prove we’re better than them. Can’t come close to winning in something like soccer? We just write it off because that’s “not a real sport” (while still being one that the rest of the world takes a million times more seriously than even our county takes the game we choose to call football).

So Japan can hoist the trophy, like they’ve done the first two times in this tournament, and we just brush it off because, hey, our players are still healthy enough to go after the World Series, which is the REAL world championship, right???

Maybe WE’RE the ones who don’t get it.

Charles Barkley playing in the 1992 Olympics led him to being in better shape than he ever was, causing his following NBA season to be his best ever.

Has it occurred to anyone that Holland getting in meaningful games this early in the year might actually help him gain the focus Rangers fans have pleaded for?

But this is about much more. It’s about finding ways to continue developing the game in the wake of the Olympics tossing out baseball.

As Ken Rosenthal stated, the WBC will distribute about $15 million in prize money, upping the total in three tournaments to $40 million. Roughly half of that will go to developing the sport in other countries.

That will allow talent to continue to improve around the world – which Major League Baseball needs as more and more American kids defect to the football fields and blacktops.

Of course, maybe the complaining about the WBC is from the vocal minority. Attendance for the previous WBC was around 800,000. ESPN’s games featuring the USA drew better ratings than any of their NBA games.

Maybe we do care about defending our country on the playing field, despite the media wanting to think otherwise.

So let’s break out the Old Navy flag shirts this weekend, get the hot dogs on the grill early and show the rest of the world who’s sport this really is.


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