USA Baseball: Not Too Big to Fail
Let's set the record straight on how the World Series got its name.
It had nothing to do with the New York World, a jingoistic newspaper from the late 1800s that was ironically published by Joseph Pulitzer, creator of the prize that honors journalistic integrity. It had everything to do with the mistaken notion that the USA, like many civilizations preceding it, believed it was the center of the universe.
The Series is the unquestioned pinnacle of baseball and is obviously the focal point of every player's ambition. Especially the majority of American players, whose first loyalty remains to the major-league teams paying their salaries.
That's all well and good. But the question is this: in a true global promotional event spawned by a substantially influential car salesman, how is it that a country of 330million people that doggedly claims baseball as its national pastime has yet to crack a final four that, this year, consists of two island possessions, a nation on half an island, and an island nation?
After squeaking by a respectable Canadian contingent to reach the World Baseball Classic's second round, USA Baseball tumbled out of the competition at the hands of a powerful Dominican Republic squad and a decent team from Puerto Rico. It's telling that the USA's only second-round victory came over a collection of mostly Italian-heritaged Americans who were just happy to be there.
Reaction to the WBC outside the USA has got to put Bud Selig's bean-counters in a state of ecstasy. However, inside his own corporate realm, the commish just can't get his franchisees to buy into the concept. It's accepted fact that only a World Baseball Classic title will change that perception.
But is USA Baseball, even with the considerable will of the MLB commissioner's office behind it, up to the task?