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Japan-Korea V: The WBC Final

Japan and Korea play one last time in the WBC, this time to crown a champion. Once again, I’ll be liveblogging all of the action for SI.com over on FanNation. Also, check out my preview of the game on SI.com’s main baseball page.

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1 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Mar 23, 2009 8:19 pm

Korea v Japan, will be following online (and maybe sneak off to the bar at lunch time for a few innings)..should be a great one.

Hey Monkeypants, if you are there I wanted to reply to an earlier post of yours but can't find it now..don't you think there may be parallels to the growth of basketball around the world in the 80s and 90s? Maybe there is no coverage on Italian tv now, but easily could be in 15 years..

2 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Mar 23, 2009 8:49 pm

Did they manage to fill the stadium tonight? watching online now..you know Ichiro will show up tonight..

3 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Mar 23, 2009 9:01 pm

Hey Cliff, the sac bunt in the first inning..my local friends here can't understand how I get so outraged when seeing that.."It's important to get the runner over..blah blah blah"..has Bill James been translated into Japanese??

4 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Mar 23, 2009 10:42 pm

The game being shown live on a huge tv in the office plaza next door..crickets here at the Banter though! ah well..

5 monkeypants   ~  Mar 23, 2009 10:47 pm

[1] Yes, there could be. But right now we have little evidence of such. Call me in 10 or 15 years.

BTW, from personal experience, I was in Greece in the 1990s, and lots of kids were playing bball on playgrounds, bball was on TV, second tier American bball players would show up as minor celebrities as players and coaches in Europe, etc.

There is simply no such parallel development, as of now, for baseball. Indeed, I have talked to many, many people in Italy who don't even know that there is a professional baseball league in Italy. Some even argue with me about it. I'm pretty sure that most Europeans were aware of basketball (il basket in Italiano) in the 1980s.

OK, gotta run--the final of the Italian version of Dancing with the Stars (Ballando con le Stelle) is on now.

6 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Mar 23, 2009 11:11 pm

[5] Having seen some of the women on Italian tv, will excuse your ditching the WBC Final..

You're right about basketball, anyways. Isn't it the #2 game in the world now?? A friend from African said you can see kids playing hoops now all around the continent, alongside soccer/futbol..

7 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Mar 23, 2009 11:59 pm

Watching on the cell phone now, two on, winning run on first..god, I love baseball..

8 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Mar 24, 2009 12:13 am

Damn Cliff, great game! Where IS everyone?? surely this is better than college hoops..

9 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Mar 24, 2009 12:44 am


10 cult of basebaal   ~  Mar 24, 2009 2:25 am

well, i would have been *here* ... but i was *there* ...

about 15 rows behind home plate.

best crowd i've ever seen.

the Korean fans are just amazing.

i'm not sure what the hell "DAE HAMINGO" [sic]? means but after having it pounded into my head with the punctuation of 70000 thundersticks, i'll be hearing it in my sleep for weeks.

just as i'm sure the Korean fans will see nightmares of Ichiro! driving that ball up the middle for weeks ...

it was pretty damn clear they hadn't forgotten what Ichiro said during the '06 WBC ...


11 cult of basebaal   ~  Mar 24, 2009 2:34 am

also ... Tae Kyun Kim looked like a man playing with boys ... he's a LARGE dude ... for some reason reminds me of one of the bad guys from Big Trouble in Little China ... Carter Wong (thanks IMDB)


12 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Mar 24, 2009 2:51 am

[10] Maybe they were saying "Dae Han Min Gook"? That's the full name of Korea in Korean..

Sounds like an amazing night, can't wait to get home and watch the replay on tv. Guranteed to see footage on the local news for the next 3 months, easy!

13 cult of basebaal   ~  Mar 24, 2009 2:58 am

Maybe they were saying “Dae Han Min Gook”? That’s the full name of Korea in Korean..

hmmm, sounds likely, though i never really caught a pronunciation of the K at the end ...

there were a LOT of Koreans at the game tonite ... maybe even 1/2 the crowd ... the right field pavilion in particular was a sea of blue shirts

pity that it appears not many Banterers tuned in for the game, it really was a great finale for the 2nd WBC.

14 The Hawk   ~  Mar 24, 2009 7:18 am

It was hard to know who to root for in this game, but in the end I'm glad Japan won.

15 williamnyy23   ~  Mar 24, 2009 8:02 am

[5] The same argument could be and has been made against most things are new. The ultimate goals of the WBC are clearly a long-term, so MLB has to be fully committed, which includes better participation by the U.S. After listening to Selig on the broadcast, I am hopeful that is forthcoming. It would be a shame if MLB teams refused to be in full support of the games further internationalization.

[8] Sorry to abandon you, but I was glued to the TV for the entire 10 innings. The game was as compelling and well played as any MLB game... I can't imagine being a baseball fan (forget the general public) and not embracing a game like last tonight's. When it was over, I looked at the Korean bench and could sense they were already counting down the days until 2013.

16 hiscross   ~  Mar 24, 2009 8:05 am

Too bad Japan won. Korea and Japan have been at odds with other for centuries. That 45 year occupation didn't help either. Baseball has it's following to both counties, but not as big as it once was. Like the USA, baseball has lost ground to other sports and is no longer that big of a deal. If you are a left handed pitcher with control and pop you have a chance. After that MLB seems to be looking off-shore for their players.

17 monkeypants   ~  Mar 24, 2009 8:52 am

[15] [5] The same argument could be and has been made against most things are new. The ultimate goals of the WBC are clearly a long-term...

I agree. My point is that we cannot know for a long time if this effort is successful, because its goals are themselves long term.

I do, however, stand by my assessment that international baseball in Europe is far, far, far, far, far behind where basketball was even in the 1970s.

so MLB has to be fully committed...

I agree again. But MLB will never be so committed, or at least not for a very, very long time.

18 monkeypants   ~  Mar 24, 2009 8:56 am


I can’t imagine being a baseball fan (forget the general public) and not embracing a game like last tonight’s.

For me, a game has to mean something for it to be compelling. Since I do not recognize Bud Selig's fabricated "Classic" as the championship of the world, I have a hard time getting excited about the game. It doesn't matter to me as much that the players find the game compelling: I am sure the local VFW league players are trying very hard and it means a lot to them, but I am not going to arrange my schedule around their games. I am sure the Korean players were, as you say, very sad, just as the Japanese players were no doubt jubilant. I, personally, still don't care much at all, outside of my ongoing hope that various Yankees did not injure themselves.

19 Mattpat11   ~  Mar 24, 2009 9:05 am

Since I do not recognize Bud Selig’s fabricated “Classic” as the championship of the world


Well, that and I just can't get passed "Jerry Hairston, Mexican national hero"

20 Chyll Will   ~  Mar 24, 2009 11:18 am

Sorry guys, I did watch part of it; but I've been preoccupied with getting my next web promo in the can. Shout-out to Cult for shouting out one of my favorite martial arts actors, Carter "Born Invincible + Wu Tang Swordsman + 18 Bronzemen + ..." Freakin' Wong!

Anyway... I agree with Monkeypants, but after reading what I was originally going to post, I realized that I'm reading far too much into the political aspects of the game as opposed to it just being a baseball tournament. Perhaps the structure of the tournament being based on national origin (like the Olympics, but with far less at stake) is what keeps me from getting fully engaged, especially when I consider my personal stake in US history, and if I were to travel beyond my US origins, I'm not even represented in the games, so why bother?

That's just me, but I do think Bud and MLB are trying to gloss over some deeper issues and present this as a great exhibition; but without anything more than national pride at stake, I'm not that interested. Great game between two countries I otherwise have no emotional or other strong bonds to (outside of OK Jazz >;), like watching Texas Rangers vs. Houston Astros...

21 williamnyy23   ~  Mar 24, 2009 11:19 am

[16] With all due respect, I think baseball is still a pretty big deal in the U.S., Japan and Korea. Just look at the increased attendance and revenue in the U.S. and the fervor with which Japan and Korea follow their national teams.

[17] I agree with your assessment, but quite frankly, if I was MLB, I would be much more focused on Asia and Latin America, countries likely to experience local population growth as well as increase immigration to the United States. I always laugh when people lament the MLB demographic because they always ignore that MLB is very popular among Asians and Hispanics. If I was looking for long-term growth in the United States, those would be the populations to which I'd pay most attention.

I also disagree that MLB will not be fully committed for a long time. If a real revenue opportunity exists, MLB will fall in line. The jury is out on how much MLB can expand its international markets, but the WBC is definitely a step in the right direction.

[18] I don't think the passion of the Korean and Japanese players was fabricated by Bud Selig. Regardless of the format, that game last night was a well played, passionate game between rival teams who desperately wanted to win. If one wants to dismiss it and compare it to the local VFW, so be it. As a baseball fanatic, however, I found it extremely compelling and can't imagine someone of a similar mindset not being interested in the game.

[19] When was Jerry Hairston billed as a Mexican national hero? I believe his mom was Mexican by birth, so I am not sure why it would be so funny that he would have pride in representing the homeland of his mother.

22 monkeypants   ~  Mar 24, 2009 11:43 am

[21] I don’t think the passion of the Korean and Japanese players was fabricated by Bud Selig.

That's not what I wrote and you know that. My point is that the players' enthusiasm does not much influence my own enthusiasm; that the Korean and Japanese players fought tooth and nail--pride in their countries and all that--does not make the game more compelling for me.

his mom was Mexican by birth,

You sort of sidestep Mattpat's larger point (albeit one made sarcastically): Hairston is not playing for his nation, but rather the nation of birth of one of his parents. Maybe he takes pride in that, maybe not, maybe it was just easier for him to find a roster spot on the Mexican rather than American team. But in any case, he wasn't playing for his nation. This one example points to the fabricated nature of the tournament, wherein very liberal rules for national connection had to be conjured up in order to fill up the rosters of some teams. The european rosters were, in my opinion, sort of silly.

if I was MLB, I would be much more focused on Asia and Latin America, countries likely to experience local population growth as well as increase immigration to the United States.

I agree entirely. I wonder if the WBC is the best venue for promoting this enthusiasm, at least as it is currently constructed.

23 williamnyy23   ~  Mar 24, 2009 12:01 pm

[22] It's not what you wrote, but my point is that the passion of the players involved (and their high level of play) should completely supercede Bud Selig's involvement. Do you not think the Japanese and Korean players were playing at a high level? If so, I guess I could understand your feelings. Otherwise, I don't see why a baseball fan wouldn't want to watch baseball played on a high level by teams playing their absolute best.

I don't think I side stepped the point in [22]. One of the nice things about being an American, IMHO, is that you don't have to forfeit pride in your ethnic origins in order to be a proud of American. Why can't Hairston be proud to be play for Team USA or Team Mexico? Does he really have to choose sides when elements of both elicit pride? And, what was so silly about the European rosters? The Netherlands had mostly players from that country (or its possesions), and even Italy had a good amount of players from the Italian league (and for those Italian American players, I see nothing silly in taking pride in playing for the country of their recent ancestors).

As to your last point, considering that the WBC seems to have been immensely popular in Asia and Latin America, I don't see a reason for why it isn't an ideal venue for promoting the game to these markets (and to the immigrant populations in the U.S.).

24 monkeypants   ~  Mar 24, 2009 12:21 pm

[23] I don’t see a reason for why it isn’t an ideal venue

I said "as it is currently constructed." I would ditch the european teams and make it an "Asia v. Latin America" tournament. I would also not pressure MLB players to compete, which would liberate the scheduling.

Why can’t Hairston be proud to be play for Team USA or Team Mexico?

He certainly can be proud of both. But the rules for participation sure strike me as awfully fabricated: one grandparent? Why stop there? I'm a bit of an Italianophile, and I certainly root for Italian teams when the mood strikes me. Why shouldn't I be able to play for the Italian team? I live now in Canada though a US citizen--should I play for Canada?

By organizing the tournament on national lines, the organizers have emphasized the connection that players have to a specific nation. Yet they know they can't possibly fill lineups with "real" citizens of the various competing nations, so they conjure up these loose rules. If you don't see the silliness in the silliness and fabricated nature of the roster rules--borne of necessity, no doubt--well then we will just have to agree to disagree.

Do you not think the Japanese and Korean players were playing at a high level?

Yes, they were playing at a high level. Probably at a similarly high level as Japanese professional baseball, which I don't watch. In any case, these high level players were competing for a fabricated prize that I do not recognize (the championship of the world, apparently). If those same players got together and had a rousing pick-up game on the sand lot, I would not be much compelled by it. At the same time, the tournament itself was played under artificial restrictions and odd rules: namely strict pitch counts and expanded rosters. So on a certain level, it wasn't "real" baseball. Rather, it was a competitive exhibition played by some very talented (and some less talented) players. As such, I value it as i do all exhibitions--entertaining at best but just not that compelling. I find any regular season MLB game more compelling than even the World Championship Game of the WBC.

I will admit, however, that the WBC was more viscerally compelling than other exhibitions, such as the All Star Game or Spring Training.

25 monkeypants   ~  Mar 24, 2009 12:21 pm

Oops--I forgot to close a tag and didn't proof read!

26 cult of basebaal   ~  Mar 24, 2009 12:35 pm

I find any regular season MLB game more compelling than even the World Championship Game of the WBC.

oh well, more tickets for me.

that was the most fun, exciting and compelling game i've ever had the pleasure to attend, it was simply my pleasure to spend that time in the company of those great baseball fans.


27 williamnyy23   ~  Mar 24, 2009 12:51 pm

[24] Besides the countries involved, what other Latin American and Asian countries would you invite? Other than Colombia, I can't think of any other country even remotely able to field a team right now. I also don't see the advantage in limiting the WBC to the existing Latin and Asian countries. If you can take another team (whether it be Italy, Netherlands, Australia, etc.) along for the ride, all the better. Finally, removing the American team would pretty much make MLB's involvement unnecessary, and I am sure the teams don't want to give up that potential revenue opportunity (the WBC did average 20,000 fans this time around and was broadcast in all the major participant countries).

Again, I think you are using exaggerations to ridicule the qualification criteria (which really aren’t much different than the Olympics). Citizenship and recent direct lineage to a country seem like very fair ways to determine eligibility, and certainly do not strike me as trivial or silly. Besides, the only team that really “benefits” from the rule is Italy, so it’s kind of a red herring anyway.

Finally, and I am really not trying to insist that you care about the WBC, but I don’t see why one needs to “recognize” the prize as legitimate. The bottom line for me is two world class baseball teams played a game giving 110% percent. I don’t care if they were playing for the WBC cup or just a cup of coffee…the stakes are really irrelevant. The WBC is merely the vehicle that provided the opportunity to watch a great baseball game played by great players giving an all out effort…even if it was played on a Sandlot, I would relish the opportunity to watch…and am very surprised that other baseball fans wouldn’t feel the same way.

28 williamnyy23   ~  Mar 24, 2009 12:54 pm

[26] I love MLB, and definitely find the Yankees more compelling, but don't see how one could find the Royals versus Orioles in August, for example, anywhere near close to compelling as last night's game. I guess instead of worrying about those who haven't caught on (yet), the many who have enjoyed the WBC should just be thankful for the opportunity to watch some great baseball in March.

29 monkeypants   ~  Mar 24, 2009 1:16 pm

[27] I think you are using exaggerations to ridicule the qualification criteria (which really aren’t much different than the Olympics).

Indeed, both are equally silly and fabricated...or rather, the Olympic rules are even more absurd given that the modern Olympics were created specifically within a framework of 19th century nationalism.

I don’t care if they were playing for the WBC cup or just a cup of coffee…the stakes are really irrelevant.

Interesting. So then, a crisply played spring training game--for you--would be just as compelling, provided that you got the sense the players were giving it their all?

30 williamnyy23   ~  Mar 24, 2009 1:21 pm

[29] A crisply played spring training game that was managed and played with urgency to win would absolutely be compelling. I am not sure what would provide such motivation in the Spring [other than something like, say, the WBC :) ], but I'm all ears.

31 cult of basebaal   ~  Mar 24, 2009 1:27 pm

from SI:

Other countries stopped for the WBC the way America used to stop for the World Series. In Cuba, workers were allowed to show up late for their jobs the morning after late-night games in Mexico. In Korea, fans filled three different ballparks to watch the final on giant screens, with the people filing in as early as 9 a.m. for the 10:30 a.m. first pitch, local time. In Japan, people stood by the hundreds, five and six deep, around the display windows of electronics stores in Tokyo, catching WBC games of their beloved Samurai Japan on flat-screen display sets. When Japan played Korea in the first of their five games this WBC, it drew a 37.8 rating in Japan, better than the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the highest recorded sports event there since ... well, since the last WBC.

The interest was not confined to the Pacific Rim. The 39 WBC games drew an average of 20,549 fans per game -- making the WBC, on average, a better draw than three major league franchises: the Royals, Pirates and Marlins. The WBC drew seven crowds in excess of 40,000 -- more than the Marlins, Nationals, Royals, Indians, White Sox and Athletics combined in 486 games last year.

ESPN ratings for the WBC shot up 53 percent entering the final round. Fifty-six corporations signed on as WBC sponsors, more than double the involvement in 2006.

32 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Mar 24, 2009 8:24 pm

[18][19]etc.. Guys, fabricated or not, I find it hard to believe that anyone who loves baseball would not have been glued to the game last night..great basebal is great baseball..even if it IS the local park players, why would you "pooh-pooh" such a great game?

[20] great shout out, Chyll. Hope you can see a game here one day, the atmosphere is amazing.

33 cult of basebaal   ~  Mar 25, 2009 1:53 am

more on the impact of the WBC in Japan:

"God descends on Ichiro! World two-peat for Samurai!," the Tokyo Chunichi Sports daily cried as the baseball-crazy nation went into party mode.

While the country is gripped by recession and political turmoil, the winning campaign was estimated by one economist to have generated 50.6 billion yen (516 million dollars) worth of economic spin-offs at home.

These include merchandise sales, television rights and tourism.

"Asian baseball may be increasingly reconsidered as the birthplace of baseball," economic daily Nikkei said in an editorial. "The United States, said to be not serious about the event, may feel agitated."

34 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Mar 25, 2009 4:20 am

“The United States, said to be not serious about the event, may feel agitated.”

Damn, the translated quotes still crack me up after even after many years...another good one was one interveiwed fan's comments translated as "this victory really gave me a warm heart towards baseball, it's a game of fighting spirit and joyful emotions"

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