Daniel W. Drezner

The World Baseball Classic has its lovable underdog

The World Baseball Classic has its lovable underdog

The World Baseball Classic has been under way since Saturday, and this year’s version of the event has been even more exciting than the 2006 inaugural tournament.  Already, the U.S. barely edged Canada, 6-5 in a game that came down to the last pitch.  As I’m typing this, Australia, having upset Mexico earlier in the week, is giving Cuba a run for its money (the Aussies are winning 4-2 in the 6th.  UPDATE:  the Cubans come back to eke out a 5-4 victory).  If Cuba loses, I would hate to see Fidel Castro’s blog post about it (hat tip:  SI’s Tom Verducci)

This is all prelude, however, to the biggest shocker of all — in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the Netherlands eliminated the Dominican Republic, beating them 2-1 in 11 innings.  This was the second victory by the Dutch over the D.R. in a week. 

For those traditional Foreign Policy reading, World Cup-loving kind of readers, let me try to explain the magnitude of this upset in terms that you would understand.  Imagine that the South Korean soccer team just beat Brazil in a match played in Uruguay.  No, check that — imagine that the Koreans beat the Brazilians twice in two matches.  That’s what we’re talking about here. 

The implications for the globalization of baseball are pretty good, as Verducci points out

Major League Baseball can work all of its machinations to pump up interest in the tournament, such as marketing and broadcasting. But there is nothing more powerful to sell the tournament than the unscripted magnificence of the game itself, never more so than when what we regard as the meek overtake the mighty.