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WBC may erase idea U.S. has monopoly on its national pastime: NYT

Kyodo

The World Baseball Classic, which ended Monday with Japan’s 10-6 victory over Cuba, should forever erase any idea that the United States has a monopoly on its national pastime, the New York Times commented Wednesday.

News photoTeam Japan celebrates after beating Cuba on Monday for the
World Baseball Classic championship.

In its editorial titled “For the Love of Yakyu,” the newspaper said, “What a game! Daisuke Matsuzaka gave up a leadoff homer to Eduardo Paret, but then retired 12 of 15 batters, easily outpitching Ormari Romero and Vicyohandry Odelin.”

“Michihiro Ogasawara drove in three runs while Kosuke Fukudome, Hitoshi Tamura and Toshiaki Imae drove in two each. Akinori Otsuka struck out Yulieski Gourriel in the ninth to end the game, and the winners threw their caps, gloves and Sadaharu Oh into the air.”

The U.S. team, covered in springtime rust and missing many star players, struggled before being finished off by Mexico, it said, adding nearly a half-billion dollars’ worth of major league talent was sidelined as the Cubans and Japanese fought for the closest thing baseball has to a genuine world title.

“But this is nothing to be upset about,” the Times said. “Japan has had baseball, which it calls yakyu, for essentially as long as we have. It arrived there in the 1870′s and has put down deep roots in Asia, as the gritty performance of South Korea demonstrated.”

“Beisbol” has been a pan-American pastime for many generations, and such was the World Baseball Classic’s broad appeal that Italy, Australia, the Netherlands and even South Africa showed up eager to play, the newspaper said.

“With the supply of homegrown talent in decline, it’s possible that baseball could someday become one of those activities, like manual labor and voting, that Americans tackle a lot less enthusiastically than foreigners do.

“But enthusiasm is infectious, and the tournament could easily help Americans rediscover their own love of the game, simply by seeing it through the eyes of people from other lands,” the Times said.

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By HIROKO NAKATA