Late tomorrow night will mark the beginning of the 2013 edition of the World Baseball Classic. For some, it’s a special treat where we get to see a little early taste of some competitive baseball. For others, it’s a bore and a nuisance and only serves to put important players at risk for the sake of a money grab by the precious Bud Selig. For the Oakland Athletics, it’s a moot point.
Pedro Figueroa was slated to be the lone representative from the Athletics in the WBC, playing for the Dominican Republic. He pulled out, leaving the green and gold without a single representative. While I think it would be kind of cool to see a member of the A’s playing on a special stage like this, it wasn’t exactly disappointing either to know that the A’s would have all hands on deck for the duration of Spring Training as they prepare to defend their AL West title.
In 2006, the original World Baseball Classic did feature a number of Athletics. There were six players in all including Huston Street (USA), Marco Scutaro (VEN), Esteban Loaiza (MEX), Mike Piazza and Lenny DiNardo (Italy), and Kiko Calero (PR). The Japanese team that included the likes of Daisuke Matsuzaka, Ichiro Suzuki, and Kosuke Fukudome won the inaugural event.
The second WBC in 2009, the A’s were represented by just two pitchers: Brad Zeigler (USA), and Lenny DiNardo (Italy). Japan once again came out on top, with help from one of the newest Athletics Hiroyuki Nakajima. Another current Athletic did make his first appearance stateside with the Cuban national team, some guy named Yoenis Cespedes.
While the Athletics are not represented in this year’s edition of the tournament, I am one of the few who is sort of excited about the event. I was fortunate enough to attend the semifinals and the finals of the original WBC at Petco Park in San Diego and had a blast there. It was a little taste of the Carribean league, with fans singing and dancing in the stands while holding their country’s flag. It was a taste of both the Korean and Japanese professional leagues as the two team’s squared off, the chants and the thundersticks echoed throughout the spacious ballpark. I still remember watching Kosuke Fukudome’s game winning home run soar into the right field bleachers to put Japan in position to win it all. I remember the Japanese players and Sadaharu Oh celebrating on the field after their big win.
It seems many fans look for reasons to not be interested in the WBC, but they should reverse course and find themselves a rooting interest even though there is no A’s representative. The fact that there are no A’s should make fans even more apt to enjoy the WBC. Cactus and Grapefruit league baseball can get a little monotonous, and the WBC will be a nice diversion from the normal dog days of March. I implore you, give it a chance, you just might be surprised at how entertaining it can be.