Every four yeas, baseball attempts to stage its own Olympics. The display is grandiosely advertised as the World Baseball Classic. The WBC is now gearing up for its fourth (I think) tiresome go-round. The sense of a creepy PC mind-game so strongly pervades its packaging that I can never liberate myself to enjoy what’s happening on the field.
To begin with, this bizarre theatrical event is no more a classic than Kwanza is an African holiday. What meaning of the word is applicable here? Do the participants wear woolen uniforms and stirrup sox? Do the gloves resemble oven mitts and the hats a British sportsman’s cap? Can marketers simply wave their magic wand and turn something “classic”, dribbling gilded nostalgia-dust over the smoking transformation?
And why the pretense that all the nations of the world are participating equally? Does the MLB send its All Stars to play, or the team that prevails in its World Series (admittedly a presumptuous name, as well)? Doesn’t American baseball, rather, send its players all over the world to represent Venezuela or Italy or Australia?
And are these expatriate stars, then, no longer American citizens during their month or so of participation? Some of them, indeed, have never become legal citizens—a very, very few. Most are living out a fantasy of belonging to the land from which their fathers were happy to escape. Is Francisco (not Francesco) Cervelli of the Pittsburgh Pirates really an Italian for a few weeks just because his father emigrated from Italy? Would Honus “The Flying Dutchman” Wagner have played for Germany… or would he have smacked you for slurring his American citizenship?
Are you in some sense more Irish than American because your great-grandpa set sail from Valencia Island? By the same reasoning, I suppose quondam Cincinnati player Cesar Geronimo would have been eligible to play for China since the progenitors of Native Americans crossed the Bering Strait.
Is this yet another occasion for members of the American entertainment fraternity to remind themselves—or the rest of us—that nobody actually came from here, and that even our baseball wouldn’t amount to squat if it weren’t for immigration?
But if that’s the message, then why are black ballplayers like Didi Gregorius playing for European nations like the Netherlands? To be sure, Gregorius was born in that pocket-nation and even speaks Dutch; but he’s of African extraction by way of Curaçao. If the merely geographical accident of residence cannot trump tribal ties to nation of ethnic origin, then why not take the next little step and demand racial purity of the teams based on settlement patterns of the past millennium?
What a wonderful “feel good” moment for the world that would be: Nordic whites against Sub-Saharan blacks, Mongol against Han Chinese, Native American battling Spanish conquistador, Japanese versus Slav… just what we need at this delicate moment in world history!
With all the incoherence typical of postmodernism, the WBC is apparently striving to promote “inclusion”—and the only way it can do so is by reiterating division. After all, we have to be made aware of our differences in order that loftier minds may persuade us to put them aside.
This is all bunk, garbage, folderol, inanity, nannyist manipulation, and vapid bombast. Yes, there’s a place for international baseball. I have argued for years that the MLB should hold out the lucrative prospect of a Major League franchise to Juarez, just to see if the Mexican government might clean up that killing field and try producing some good jobs for its citizens on its own turf for a change. And the Olympic idea has some small degree of merit (though less all the time, with all the money and corruption involved). It’s probably good that the world’s bickering populations should engage in sports: the rivalry relieves tensions that might otherwise erupt into war. But I don’t understand what’s to be gained by dismantling the teams of the nation that created baseball—and continues to play it at much the highest level—so that said nation may be ritually humiliated at regular intervals in its own game by the likes of Japan and South Korea. If this isn’t yet another exercise in self-hatred, what is it?
Maybe the MLB elite should just content themselves with forcing all players to wear the transgender bathroom logo on the sleeve of their uni.