Where In The World … ?

In 1903, the Boston Americans won baseball’s very first World Series.

I know, I know – the “Americans” won America’s “World” Series. How not-very-worldly of us.

(The Boston Americans, by the way, included Cy Young, the winningest pitcher in the history of baseball. They would occasionally take spring training in Charlottesville, Virginia – just down the road from me. In 1908, they started calling themselves the Red Sox and are known today for their generous facial hair.)

1903_World_Series_-_Boston_Americans

The Boston Americans (front row) defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates (back row) in the nine-game 1903 World Series. ~ public domain image

My Canadian friend Susie (hi Susie!) always reminds me that Canada “invented” baseball. And, while that’s not exactly true, it is not exactly untrue either, and it’s quite a bit truer than Abner Doubleday’s claim, which isn’t true at all.

But, what is true is that Jackie Robinson’s first professional integrated regular season games were played with the Montreal Royals, the Brooklyn Dodgers’ farm club. And, what is also true is that Robinson called Montreal one of his favorite places because the people there were “warm and wonderful” and treated the Robinson family with respect.

So maybe “World” Series is a bit of a stretch. But, at least the world plays baseball.

You want to talk about a stretch, how about calling the Winter Olympics the world’s games, when nearly half of the world’s population lives in countries that are snow free?

Baseball is nearly everywhere today.

And, while there is no baseball in Antarctica, there are penguins and you can click here to play baseball with them.

Every other continent, not covered by an ice sheet, will have a baseball game going on in some field, or village, or town, or city, somewhere. And, the best of those players might get a chance in the big leagues.

Just look at the free-agent multi-multi-million-dollar signings in recent months – Robinson Cano (Dominican Republic), Masahiro Tanaka (Japan), Shin-Soo Choo (South Korea).

Spoiler Alert: The Baltimore Orioles will win the World Series this season thanks to their off-season pick ups of pitchers Ubaldo Jimenez (Dominican Republic) and Suk-min Yoon (South Korea), and veteran power hitter Nelson Cruz (Dominican Republic, again). They will win despite the fact that they nearly signed, and then quickly unsigned, Grant Balfour, a seasoned, but moody, reliever from Australia.

The 2014 baseball season began this weekend in Australia when the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks kicked off their first game at 4 a.m. EDT on Saturday.

I am an insanely passionate baseball fan. But, I did not get up to watch. The Orioles will play 162 regular season games in 2014, and I will try to watch them all (except when they’re on the West Coast playing and I’m on the East Coast sleeping).

There will be plenty of baseball that doesn’t require a 4 a.m. pot of coffee.

That said, boy oh boy, the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw looked sharp.

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Clayton Kershaw, sometime around 4 a.m. EDT on Saturday.

Here’s legendary Dodgers’ broadcaster Vin Scully with a koala bear.

vin koala

The two games this weekend were held at the Sydney Cricket Ground that was reconfigured for baseball. The New York Giants and Chicago White Sox played an exhibition game there way back in 1914.

The Giants won that game.

The Dodgers swept the Diamondbacks this weekend.

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One of the fellas at the MLB channel called the Cricket Ground a mix of World Cup and Wimbledon.

I love baseball’s international spirit.  I love that players come from all over, and a team may have two or three translators hanging around the dugout to help everyone communicate.

Players from Japan and the Dominican Republic and Cuba are some of the best players in major league ball today.

But, baseball also thrives closer to home in Indian Nation.

I just discovered that Jacoby Ellsbury and Joba Chamberlain are Native American.

National Public Radio’s Only A Game had a wonderful story this weekend about baseball and Navajo Nation.  Click here.

This season, the Class A Spokane Indians will honor the tribes of the Pacific Northwest by wearing the Native American Salish language on their jerseys.

Spokane, in Salish, looks a bit like a cat just ran over the keyboard, or something like this:

Sp’q’n’i

spokane jersey

(I must have one!)

(I think Sp’q’n’i is about to make my spell-checker explode.)

Baseball season is finally here. You know what to do.

Root for your “home” team … whether it’s the Baltimore Orioles (whoo!) or the Toronto Blue Jays (hi again Susie!), or an outfielder from Cienfuegos, Cuba or an infielder from Puerto Cabello, Venezuela, or  a pitcher from Habikino, Osaka, Japan.

Or, the Sp’q’n’i … yeh, especially Sp’q’n’i.

(Road trip, anyone?)

10 thoughts on “Where In The World … ?

      • I’m not–and if I was, I’d be in Seattle, which would make it about a ten hour round trip to catch a game in Spokane. That’s probably pushing it a bit for me… I’ll wait until they start selling online and give up any dreams of founding a Sp’q’n’i jersey empire.

  1. I understand that baseball is an international sport, but please explain why the first game of the U.S. baseball season was played in Australia. Is someone suggesting that March is too early to start the season at home? Can we at least hope that the World Series will be played here? Love your take on the ins/outs/ups/downs of this game.

    • Nah, it’s just that MLB is convinced that once the Australians are exposed to professional baseball, they’ll give up their cricket and Australian Rules Football and take up our game. That, and they wanted to give the Dodgers and Diamondbacks a taste of fall baseball–October seems somewhat unlikely for either team right now. ;-)

      For the record, despite being on the West Coast, which had that first game starting at 1 am, I didn’t stay up to watch it either. I also prefer my games to start at hours when I’m normally conscious.

    • Thanks Gloria! Major League baseball has been bringing Opening Day baseball to a global audience every few years since 1999. (Putting the “world” in World Series?) In recent years, they’ve kicked off the season in Mexico, Puerto Rico, and four times in Tokyo. At least no snow on Opening Day — not sure Chicago and Boston will be so lucky!

  2. I enjoyed the opening game, particularly the great job they did in turning the SCG into a baseball venue, albeit a temporary one. It is incredibly rare for me to watch a night game live because of the time difference, but this one started at 9am (Saturday) UK time, so that worked out quite well. One thing I didn’t like was Matt Vasgersian repeatedly saying “for the benefit of our international viewers…” before explaining something. It came across as quite patronising.

    • I agree … I think that the broadcasters should have been much better about that. Afterall, MLB games are available online to almost everywhere nowadays, and baseball truly is an international game. (I read an article recently about how the scientists in Antarctica are able to follow baseball via satellite radio and online. So, I think we’ve got all the continents covered!)

      As a Giants fan, I hope you liked the little shout out I gave to the 1914 Giants who won a game at the SCG long before the Dodgers did!

      Thanks for stopping by … It’s always nice to see you on the blog! :)

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