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Forgive me if I’m wrong - so there! PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, March 21, 2013 2:11 PM

The World Baseball Classic has come and gone for another year and the United States of America didn’t do so well.

I agree with Hall-of-Famer Mike Schmidt about how the US needs to go all in to be successful.

Besides growing the game through promotion of and forming youth leagues and instructing them properly on how to play the game, he suggests that somehow, Major League Baseball needs to get the players and teams to think “country first” instead of the individual team.

I agree that timing is everything, that spring training is not a good time for major-leaguers to take time away getting ready for the season with their teammates.
He points out that since there is no real off-season in baseball, especially for Latin American players that play winter ball in the Caribbean, this won’t be an easy problem to solve and I just don’t think it will change.

I’m not going to go into every detail of his argument but I think an answer may be to have a real National Team.

Let’s say you have some younger — or even some older — guys that have recently retired from the game because they realize they aren’t going to make a major-league club. These independent leagues of players either on their way down from the pros or those still battling to latch onto a major-league team might be a rich lode.

You might even open it up to current college players — you would have to work out the specific details with their colleges and universities.

I venture that there would be a pretty nice pool of players to choose from.

Basically, this would be their job for a year, playing against whatever competition they could find: major-league teams, AAA/AA/A, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Japan, Korea, Europe.

I know there are issues involved with this as well: colleges would have to, in a sense, redshirt players and take a chance that they wouldn’t get hurt; being able to find players good enough or willing enough to put off “the dream” for a time to compete against the best other countries have to offer; etc.

That was the reason we went to the men’s basketball Dream Team in 1992 after some disappointments in the Summer Olympics but I wonder if this solution might not have worked then.

Of course, it might be easier with basketball because you still have some relatively young guys that still play the game that have graduated from college and, for whatever reason, aren’t chasing the dream of the NBA.

I may be completely out of my mind with these suggestions for how to “fix” this problem — maybe it won’t ever happen because of how money so rules the game in this country. Let’s face it; MLB teams probably aren’t so enamored of potentially losing key, very highly-paid players to an injury during the WBC that may wreck their chances at the World Series.

Agents and the union may not necessarily go for it, either, because of potential injuries, etc.

At the same time, according to reports, players that DID participate in the WBC feel as if they are in regular-season form already.

Maybe this will take care of itself after all!

I don’t know what to believe about this item I came across the other day.

It seems that Giorgos Katidis, a soccer player from Greece, was booted off the Greek national team for life because he celebrated a match-winning goal over the weekend by using what appeared to be a Nazi salute.

Well, no; there’s no “appear” — it was a Nazi salute.

It’s on YouTube (you can even mis-spell his name and it still pops up!), so you can look at it to see for yourself but I believe you will agree with me — you’d better!!

He claims he didn’t know that it WAS a Nazi salute and he claims to despise fascism.

He is 20 years old, so perhaps I can buy the idea that he is ignorant of what that sign meant.

Even his German coach, Ewald Lienen, cuts him some slack on that, terming him not concerned about politics.

Perhaps that is simply covering his “territory” and deep down, he knows his player “knew” exactly what he was doing.

At the same time, though, it is pretty simple that if you know what fascism is, it might be relatively easy to find out what its “symbol” is.

When you watch this, though, ignore some of the usual posting underneath; none disagree with the fact that he did this but they disagree with the punishment the Greek national team levied against him.

Most strenuously, to say the least.

 

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