The Reuters global sports blog
Is baseball finally a world sport?
The Italians are quite excited about their team doing well at the World Baseball Classic.
They pulled off another European shock on Monday, eliminating a Canada side with Major League players to remain on course for a spot in the second round.
Baseball minnows Italy and Netherlands have been the surprise packages of opening round, claiming some of the biggest scalps of the 16-nation tournament.
Italy’s Sky TV have sent a reporter to Canada and the country’s leading sports websites have covered the Classic in reasonable detail. Is baseball finally becoming a true worldwide sport like soccer?
Of course, we must note that South Korea are Olympic champions and Cuba have won the Baseball World Cup, which does not include MLB players, many more times than the United States. In fact, Great Britain won the first Baseball World Cup in 1938 when the only other team was the U.S.
Japan is nuts about baseball and Canada has had an MLB team for years. The sport was also devised by an Englishman.
MLB will always make the U.S. top dogs, but maybe the rest of the world now feels more like a legitimate part of the baseball family.
Leagues in Japan, Europe and the Caribbean will never have a better time to try to increase their exposure given MLB’s image has been severely damaged by doping allegations.
The IOC may be missing a trick by dropping baseball from London 2012.
PHOTO: Team Italy pitcher Jason Grilli and teammates celebrate their win against Team Canada during the ninth inning of their World Baseball Classic (WBC) game in Toronto, March 9, 2009. REUTERS/ Mike Cassese