Japan take on Mexico in another classic WBC game
I think maybe the thing I could get the most out of the World Baseball Classic is that it sticks to the full extent of the best moments, which baseball the most skillful game.
Sure, there are plenty of shots like this in the MLB regular season, but it doesn’t get this dramatic until October, and this is a good reminder. In other sports, the greatest moments are focused on one point. The last shot, the big goal, the touchdown. The action takes place at one point. Baseball has so much going on at once in a place like this. There’s the initial thunderous contact at the plate, then following the ball in its arc toward the outfield wall. There is the midfielder chasing the ball off the wall. Ohtani and Ukyo Shuto circle the bases and Munetaka Murakami goes to first as Mexico goes the full length of the field preparing for the switch, even if it was to no avail. The entire Japanese roster spilled out of the dugout, and they all become third base coaches. The Mexican players are already slowly walking away, separating themselves from the unsuccessful relay throws. It is a mural of the best of baseball, the reverse actions of each team, yet in harmony and rhythm, spread over a wide canvas.
There’s also a still image here:
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Before all these events, the frantic final moments that make up the final piece of a memorable game, there is this. Giovanny Gallegos knows it’s over, so the feeling goes out of his knees. There’s still a lot to do and things that could go wrong on either side, but Gallegos doesn’t know that none of that is coming. His fate was sealed with that decisive blow off Murakami’s racket. Nothing could be more defining than this sound, cutting through the brief pause of the raging crowd as the pitch is delivered.
None of this is complete without the Japanese call:
Boy, that seems to matter.
With Japan-USA being the final tonight, there is no question that it will be most watched baseball game, worldwide, in history. There’s a chance Ohtani marches out of the bullpen like the Reaper to face Mike Trout in the late innings, but even if the drama is high enough, that’s one hope.
As more people tune in, more people beg MLB to do this every year. But the rarity and desperation is what makes it so much fun. The players are more interested because they don’t know how many more shots they’ll get, whether it’s the Czech semi-pro (if that), the stars, Japan or the United States. Three years can be a long time in baseball. Even for them, the stars must align.
I’m no less guilty than most who spend baseball seasons bemoaning what’s wrong with baseball. It was so much fun to remember what was right, especially with the bonus of the baseball season that followed. There are good ones in sport, Mr. Frodo. It’s worth fighting for.