Friday, April 10, 2009

Sportsman of the Month - March

Didn't get a chance to post this amid the Final Four, Masters and Opening Day hoopla, so here we go. Expect some Masters updates from B-Dubs as we get closer to Tiger's eventual comeback to win the Green Jacket. It's gonna happen.

March: Team Japan, World Baseball Classic Champions

Two tournaments in its existence, two world championships. Doesn’t get much better than that, does it?

The WBC is one of those oddball “is it overrated or is it underrated?” events that garners a ton of hype (overrated) and seems like it’s one of the greatest ideas known to modern man (underrated), until you just can’t get excited about the tournament, try as you might (overrated) but then when you look back at it, you wish it would come along next year as opposed to waiting ‘till Obama’s in his second term (underrated).

I sort of watched the tournament myself, but wasn’t truly riveted until the championship game. Apparently, Japan-South Korea baseball is a bitter rivalry among the ranks of Yanks-Sox, Federer-Nadal and McShay-Kiper Jr. Japan and South Korea put on a show at Dodger Stadium, with Korea mounting a comeback in the final two innings before Ichiro hit a two-run single in the top of the tenth to lift Japan to its second straight WBC title.

In a tournament where the American players barely seem to care, and talented powers Cuba and the Dominican Republic have underachieved, Japan has shown the world that baseball isn’t just America’s pastime. Led by Ichiro and Daisuke Matsuzaka – and armed with just five MLB players on its roster – the likeable Japanese team has ruled the four-year domain of the WBC. Unfortunately, when the third installment is played in 2009, Japan’s quest for a three-peat will be hindered by aging stars like Ichiro (who will be 39 then), Kosuke Fukudome (35) and Kenji Johjima (36).

But even so, I wouldn’t bet against Japan, if a battle of nations is at stake.

Past SOTM winners:
Rafael Nadal – February
Larry Fitzgerald – January

March honorable mentions:
Tiger Woods: Really, Tiger? It took you three tournaments to win a title after coming back from a year’s absence? Stiff.
Dominic James: for showing us what it means to love the game, refusing to let that “season-ending” foot injury end his season – or his Marquette career – on a sour note.
Michigan State Spartans: for lifting the spirits of the U.S. state most troubled by this recession, and for proving consistency throughout Tom Izzo’s MSU career. Spend four years in East Lansing, you WILL go to a Final Four.
Nate Miles (the ex-UConn guard): for being the centerpiece March’s official “Overblown Non-Story of the Month.”


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