I really, really love baseball. I hate it when business interests and misguided commissioners screw it up. I hate the designated hitter rule. I hate the three-division system in MLB. I believe that, other than the color barrier and the reserve clause, baseball should be played more or less the same way it was played when Mickey Mantle (or Johnny Bench) played the game. Some things just shouldn't be fucked with; baseball is one of those things.
Given that, I enjoyed the final game in the World Baseball Classic because the participants played baseball with great passion, as it should be played. It was clearly the greatest baseball game I have seen since Game 6 of the 1975 World Series which, whether you were rooting for the Cincinnati Reds or the Boston Red Sox, arguably was the greatest game ever played up until last night.
A little background on Japan and Korea. The rivalry between these two countries extends way beyond sports, and makes the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry look pathetically tame by comparison. Why else would tens of thousands of Koreans gather in a large stadium in Seoul to watch a TV broadcast of the game taking place thousands of miles away across the Pacific Ocean in Dodger Stadium, cheering as if they were in Los Angeles watching the game live?
The Japanese team I saw last night would have crushed the Phillies of last year's Fall Classic. They would have shredded them with small ball on offense, and smothered them on defense. This was a team that could advance runners on a bunt single, then score a run on a fly ball that barely made it to mid-left field. This was a team that possessed extraordinary discipline, that had eleven hits in the first eight innings, ten of which were singles, and led Korea 3-1. That Korea could force such a game into extra innings was a monumental accomplishment that only brings credit upon a team that won the gold medal in Beijing just six months ago.
I had no stake whatsoever in this game, but I was on the edge of my seat up until the time my Dish DVR's recording of the game (it was getting REALLY late, and I reluctantly had the remainder of the game recorded and went to bed) ended abruptly, causing me considerable anguish. I really wanted to see the end of the game. I even resisted reading the sports page so I could watch it and not have the ending spoiled for me. But alas, I had to get the final results from Yahoo! News. Damn. Note to Dish Network - your DVR system really needs to be smart enough to continue recording sports events until their conclusion, whenever that might occur. Or at least let me decide for how many hours I want the recording to run, as I might have with a VCR.
Nevertheless, it was thrilling. Yahoo! even said the game had a kind of reverse Dodger effect where people would show up at the stadium in the middle of the game just to witness the awesomeness. Why can't American baseball inspire people like that?