Uncle Charlie Yakker's Baseball Rants

A look into the mind of baseball fanatic.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

World Baseball Classic

The idea of this post is so common, it's almost not worth posting.

Over the last years I have been very sceptical of the World Baseball Classic. I had several negative thoughts toward the Classic, but all those thoughts are gone now.

It all began when I attended an actual WBC game in Scottsdale Arizona. (Who could accurately discount the games unless attending?) The game was Canada vs. South Africa and I must admit that I was not very excited about attending.

I already had negative thoughts toward the WBC in general, but when I got caught in the Phoenix traffic, I really didn't care to attend. Immediately upon my arrival I was forced to stand in a long line for "will call" because I had purchased tickets online. Then I went to the nearest entrance gate and again stood in line. They searched my bags and I admit that I am very happy about the security. What I disliked was the fact that it took so long just to get into the ballpark.

I intended to get to the park early in an effort to get a few autographs and photo's of this inagural game from the World Baseball Classic. By the time I got into the park the teams were done with batting practice and done with all of the autographs and fan interactions. So much for my time.

When the game began I sat with some friends down the first base line.

During the first inning I listened to a few fans talking about their favorite Canadian. Most of the names were easy to recognize. I heard no mention of names on the South Africa team.

About the 3rd inning of the scoreless game, I was ready to leave. I never leave baseball games early.

Somehow our attention was drawn to a few good plays on the field. Before we knew it, the game was very interesting. A boy that we brought to the game was given a game ball. He was so excited that he cheered loudly and boasted to us that he had something we didn't!

Another inning passed and many of the fans were filtering out. It was quite chilly for a night in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Suddenly there was a crack of a bat and an Official World Classic Baseball sped toward us. The guy in front of my reached over the wall, then what seemed to be dozens of fans pushed and reached over the wall. I stretched long and far. The ball went off someones bare hand and rolled slowly to my glove. Wahoo, I grabbed the golden ball and raised it into the air. People in our section all cheered the trophy. In my best effort to be funny, I turned to the 8 year old who had bragged about his ball. I screamed "In your face little kid!!" The entire section of people were horrified that I'd be so rude to a child. They had no idea we were together.

Over the next few minutes, I passed the ball around and was given pats on the back for a job well done. It was great!

When things calmed down, I snuck down to the boy and we giggled together how well we'd fooled those around us. I still wonder if people caught onto the fact that we came to the game in the same car.

About this time I looked at the scoreboard and realized we were witnessing one heck of a baseball game. The South Africans were leading the mighty Maple leafs 4-3 going into the seventh inning. We began to cheer for the underdogs and hoped to witness a huge upset. Maybe we could witness a huge story that the World would be talking about.

Just about the time we thought it was possible that we were seeing the impossible, the South Africans were down by 3 runs. We all continued to cheer loudly for the little engine that could.

Suddenly South Africa scored one in the seventh and three in the eighth. Unreal!!! Leading 9-8 in the ninth, we lead the crowd in cheers. "LETS GO BUTCHER, LETS GO BUTCHER"........everyone on the right field side of the Stadium joined in! We got loud. As Ian Butcher took the field we screemed at him........"three up three down". Finally he looked over and gave us the "hang loose" sign. We figured that this young team had never had the "rock star" treatment. We were probably right.

In the top of the ninth Canada flexed it's mighty muscle and scored four. This let the air out of the right field cheering crew. It also seemed to deflate the South African team.

I did notice one great phenomenon. At the beginning of the game Canadian flags were spread throughout the stadium. After all our bantering and jeering, no one sat on the right side of the diamond with any Canadian paraphernalia. They were a pretty quite bunch as the Canadians lost the early part of the game. Most didn't cheer and most didn't care much for the game..........by the ninth.......every out the Canadians were able to achieve on defense created a explosive reaction from the left side of the ball park. It was awesome that they were so emotional. They waved flags and jumped up and down. I guarantee they had a scare put into them. The baseball Gods rumbled and rocked their world.

Although looking at the newpaper the next day, it seemed to be a non-eventful game. No one really knew the excitement and thrill we'd gotten for the ten dollar tickets.

I was immediately sold on the WBC. As the tourney continued, I saw many fans get the spirit of the Classic. When the USA lost, many people came up with excuses. I didn't care though. I was happy to see the other countries get the fever. I was happy to see them all get the attention they so deserved.

Uncle Charlie Yacker


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