WBC: World Blogging Classic

Having been designated as the Ambassador At Large for the inaugural World Baseball Classic, I want to relate my experiences to you bloggers and baseball fans.  I just returned from Japan, the site for the Pool A play, which consisted of Japan, Korea, China and Chinese Taipei.  Because of the time difference, Pool A had a four-day head start, with the first game played on the 3rd. 

I attended all the games with Major League Baseball officials Bob DuPuy, who is overseeing the Classic, Paul Archey, Pat Courtney and Jim Small, along with my sidekick, Acey Kohrogi who runs the Dodger?s Asian baseball program.  Everyone involved did a tremendous job, as the games were exciting, highly competitive and fun. 

Korea emerged from the first round as the Pool A winner and Japan placed second as the Pool A runner-up with both teams advancing to the second round of play in Anaheim, California.  After losing to Korea in the final game, Japan?s manager, the legendary manager Sadaharu Oh said that his team will get their revenge on Korea in Anaheim, and I would like to believe him.  However, Korea has some great Major Leaguers, including current Dodger pitcher Jae Seo, first baseman Hee-Soep Choi and former Dodger Chan-HoPark.  And knowing those guys, they won?t roll over.

It was also great to see how much progress China has made.  In 2002, Acey and I traveled to Beijing where I threw out the first pitch of their first-ever championship game of their new professional league.  This is why the Classic is so great; to see countries like China working hard to improve and be ready for international play is just heart-warming.  I can remember going to Japan in 1965 on an assignment from Walter O?Malley.  I was to work with the Tokyo Giants for three weeks of their spring training.  While there we covered every fundamental of the game.  Now, the Tokyo Giants have quite a few players that are more than able to play in Major League Baseball.

While in Japan, I was surprised and happy to see two old friends: the incomparable Peter O?Malley, former owner of the dodgers and a long time supporter of international baseball, and Bobby Valentine, the manager of the Chiba Lotte Mariners who did a fantastic job guiding that team to a Japanese World Series championship.  Bobby is a supporter of international baseball as well, and he truly believes that his Marines could have beaten the White Sox if a true world series had been played.

I am now off to Arizona to see games in Pool B, which consists of Team USA (my favorite) Mexico, Canada and South Africa.  The two teams that emerge from this bracket will face Korea and Japan in Anaheim.  And I know those games, as well as the games in Pool C and Pool D will be hard nosed baseball at its best.  Millions of people know about it already, and millions more will learn shortly that this tournament is great for the game of baseball, and even greater for the hundreds of millions of fans across the globe.  For all those doubters out there, be aware that the players who are playing for their countries will return to their training camps better prepared for the season because they are now playing ball against the best players in the world. 

For those who say this Classic is nothing but a promotion, pay close attention to this: there is no greater feeling then having the opportunity to represent your country.  When I put on the uniform for Team USA in the Olympics, I felt a tremendous amount of pride and patriotism.  I wore the uniform of the United States Army, and wearing the USA jersey was on par with that. 

How can anyone criticize a guy for wanting to represent his country?

I want to end this blog by saluting Bud Selig and the Player?s Association for making this Classic happen.  Now I leave it to you fans to make it successful by giving it your full support.

12 Comments

Mr. Lasorda,
My mom spoke of you in reverential terms. Where I come from you are considered one of the greatest, period. Not just in baseball but as a man. Having said that, I have to say I think you’re missing the point of those who criticize the WBC. I agree, representing our country is a great honor. My problem with some of your statements is that you seem to imply that any ballplayer who doesn’t want to play in this tournament is unpatriotic. I just can’t buy that. Because a guy choses not to play does not mean he’s any less patriotic than you or anyone else who choses to associate himself with this tournament. And to say that Major League Baseball isn’t using this classic as a promotion is proposterous. Of course they are, just like they use the All Star Game, The Playoffs, indeed just like they use every game. They are selling a product. I love baseball. I love to watch it, to ump, or coach it. I just like to hold one in my hand in my office and toss it against a wall. But I cannot stand with you and criticize those who chose not to love it, and I certainly will not stand by and let anyone question my patriotism simply because I’m not sure I want to embrace it whole heartedly.

Tommy:
Saw you on TV last night during the Italy game. Always marvel at your never ending enthusiasm.Met you at Dodgertown in the spring of 1985. Certainly one of the highlights of my life to be at Holman Stadium and meet you, Fernando and others and receive an autographed ball from you. (Signed: “To Harold. You and the Dodgers are both great.”) I do enjoy the WBC games and especially Canada’s win yesterday. However, I find it puts some of the young men in a very difficult position. For instance, Oscar Robles desparately wanted to play for his country, Mexico, but is fighting for his MLB life. He has to been seen full time by the new manager and GM. That certainly seemed to be the message coming from Grady Little.Also Russell Martin, the young Canadian catcher, is in a competition. He too couldn’t leave with his career not yet established. I would love to see those young men play for their countries but really understand why they couldn’t. Eric Gagne recovering from surgery couldn’t play for Canada and we know of his patriotism to his country and loyalty to his team. Tommy those are special young men and I am so pleased they are Dodgers. They had hard decisions as did others.

Harold Uhlman

Lunenburg, NS

Canada

Mr. Dodger,

I couldn’t agree with you more. I am watching every inning with baited breath! I love baseball and couldn’t wait for it to start!–And now it’s here!!!

I’m comin’ to the first game of the three game series against the Giants and am completely out-of-my-mind with anticipation!

I know you like stories so I know you won’t mind this one:

It was a summer day in Cincinnati circa. 1991 and I was walking to then Riverfront Stadium to see if I could get a ticket. As I was approaching the stadium (crossing the freeway overpass), someone from the downtown area of Cincy yelled out, “A little help!” I turned and saw a baseball rolling down the street, so I ran into the street to pick it up when I heard a car screetch behind me

Dear Tommy,

I can’t wait for the season to start and have a seat in the all new Dodger seats. See you in April. Keep up the good work. Go USA!!! and Go Team Mexico!!

Adrian Fargeat Jr.

Walnut, CA

Hey Tommy, just want to say I think we should have a vote like the ALL STAR GAME to see who will represent us instead of just taking volunteers. And take the best of the best. If a player is voted in but doesn?t want to play then go to the next guy with the most votes that does want to play.

I mean come on, we are setting ourselves up to be embarrassed very 4 years if we don?t have a better lead off hitter than Vernon Unknown Wells

Also,if you want the USA to be excited about this every 4 years then at least show all the games Live on TV and at that maybe also on local national TV so everyone can see it. The USA vs Korea game 3/13/06 wasn?t even shown live on TV. Also don?t schedule two games at the same time.

Hey! Every World Baseball Classic team has official gear, a real copy of what the players wear on the field, easy to buy on the web EXCEPT CUBA!! And and the money made from the sale of the Cuban gear goes to the hurricaine victims here in the USA. Whats the deal?

Hey Stephen they don’t have any of that **** gear either. Or that Stalin merchandise. What gives?

Where have you been? 11 million people living in virtual slavery and you want to buy their jersey? In case you didn’t realize it Cuba is a communist country. They “don’t” believe in commercialism or capitalism.

Oh I got censored because I used the “n” word but I was referring to the regime that governed Germany during the 30’s and 40’s.

Mr. LaSorda Dodger Blue:

Knowing that you are a living legend and a walking encyclopedia in the issues of baseball, specifically in the American hemisphere, my question is one that we have been pondering here in Baseball land of Latin America. Why was not NICARAGUA invited to the WBC when it has the history, record and certainly more talent than Australia, South Africa and the Netherlands? We understand to want to market baseball to all continents but what is the message to countries such as NICARAGUA that have been so loyal and engaging in baseball?

Good luck this year!

HEYNARD

Mr Lasoda and baseball fans,

I sincerely believe that the Team USA lost the game intentionally, or at least it had a political reason to lose . Why?

Because Steinbrenner wanted it that way to make his employees–Jeter, Damon, and Rodriguez join the team as soon as possible and avoid unnecesary injury before the season opens.

In Major League Baseball, Steinbrenner is the dictator of whole MLB. He has all decision power to create his own rule to make it favorable to New YOrk Yankees which he has done numeous times, as everyone knows.

Bud Selig is his most loyal servant. Steinbrenner opposed WBC because he did not want his players participate, but Selig pushed it. There must have been some compromise for both sides. Steinbrenner had a deal with Bud Selig, Buck Martinez, and Team USA had to exit this wothless tornament (to Steinbrenner and Yankees organization) as early as possible, then it makes sense to me. Or Team USA, notably Jeter, was just too arrogant to win? What do you think?

abembalir2000@yahoo.co.jp

Tehre is one more evidence supports my argument about Steinbrenner’s conspiracy on Team USA’s loss. ALex Rodriguez pulled his name from Dominican Republic and decided to join the USA, Wang refused to participate for Taiwan, Cano decided to not to join his native country, and Matsui declined to play for Japan. Steinbrenner basically told his players play for US or don’t play for WBC at all. That way, if the US loses, all players could rejoin the Yankees, and do not let his employees waste energy for extre few days. Do you think all of these are coincident?
abemblair2000@yahoo.co.jp

Hello Mr. Lasorda,
Saw and waved to you at an Orlando Magic game this Spring while you were in town proting the WBC. Last Spring, you were kind enough to sign a baseball for my nephew (11) and niece (9) at Dodgertown in Vero. My brother and I grew up with the Dodgers in So. Cal. as kids in the late 50’s and early 60’s. Having lived in Orlando during our adult life, we now bring his children (my nephew & niece) to Spring Training in Vero Beach every year. Thank you for taking the time to sign a baseball. It gave my brother and me an opportunity to tell them the Dodger story and your place in it. You made two little kids happy and appreciative of the game of baseball and the Dodgers! You are truly THE AMBASSADOR of Baseball! Thank you.

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