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Saturday, March 7, 2009

The World Baseball Classic and the Globalization of Baseball

Unless you are fanatic for baseball or sports in general, you may have missed one of the greatest upsets in sports history. In a game that started this morning, the Netherlands defeated the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. To put this upset in perspective, the Domincan Republic has 23 current major league players while the Netherlands has 2. The Domincan Republic had a line up stacked with such names as David "Big Papi" Ortiz, Hanley Ramirez, and Miguel Tejada, while the Netherlands was anchored by major league journey man Sidney Ponson.

While all Americans are of course rooting for the U.S. in the Classic, if you are rooting for the globalization of baseball then you are rooting for teams like the Netherlands, Italy, and Australia. Teams like the U.S., the Dominican Republic, Japan, and Cuba are filled with players that would be perennial all stars in the majors. Most of the other teams have a wide range of talent. For instance, the Canadian team have two perennial MVP candidates in Justin Morneau and Russell Martin along with journeyman players like Mike Johnson.

This range of talent allows the up and comer to make a name for themselves by competing well against top pros. For instance, the 2006 WBC was the coming out party of Daisike Matusaka and he landed a multi million Dollar contract with the Red Sox directly as a result of it. You can bet that several players on the Netherlands will be looked at closely by MLB scouts in their next game. In fact, professional baseball in the Netherlands has been played since 1922, however it takes a serious backseat in that country to sports like soccer. You can bet, though, that if the Netherlands wins their next game and makes it to the medal round that the country will take notice. In fact, you can bet that at the next classic the Netherlands will have a lot more than 2 major leaguers on its roster.

Baseball has been able to spread all throughout North America, Latin America, and now the Far East. Only a few years ago, it was only mainly Japan in the Far East that produced major league players at any consistent level. The Classic allows countries like Korea and China to showcase their talent against major league calliber talent. A great performance in the Classic against the best in the world is the best way to stand out with such a massive amount of professional leagues in the world.

Baseball has become partially globalized. Yet, it has a long way to go before it is truly globalized. the World Baseball Classic is one of the best routes toward total globalization. Upsets like the Netherlands over the Dominican Republic do more than decades of player development. True globalization of baseball only takes a few more upsets on the scale of the Netherlands over the Domincan Republic.

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