以下、記録用に3月22日付NY Times を載せておきます
For the Love of Yakyu
Published: March 22, 2006
What a game! Daisuke Matsuzaka gave up a leadoff homer to Eduardo Paret, but then retired 12 of 15 batters, easily outpitching Ormari Romero and Vicyohandry Odelin. Michihiro Ogasawara drove in three runs while Kosuke Fukudome, Hitoshi Tamura and Toshiaki Imae drove in two each. Akinori Otsuka struck out Yulieski Gourriel in the ninth to end the game, and the winners threw their caps, gloves and Sadaharu Oh into the air.
The World Baseball Classic, which ended on Monday night with Japan's 10-6 victory over Cuba, should forever erase any idea that the United States has a monopoly on its national pastime. The United States team, covered in springtime rust and missing many star players, who had been sprinkled generously onto other countries' lineups, struggled before being finished off by Mexico. As Murray Chass of The Times noted, nearly a half-billion dollars' worth of major league talent was sidelined as the Cubans and Japanese fought for the closest thing baseball has to a genuine world title.
But this is nothing to be upset about. Japan has had baseball, which it calls yakyu, for essentially as long as we have. It arrived there in the 1870's and has put down deep roots in Asia, as the gritty performance of South Korea demonstrated. Beisbol has been a pan-American pastime for many generations, and such was the World Baseball Classic's broad appeal that Italy, Australia, the Netherlands and even South Africa showed up eager to play.
That baseball has not caught on among the French may only underscore the global superiority of a sport that has been a vibrant American export since the days of whale oil. Alexander Joy Cartwright, the father of modern baseball ・with its nine innings, three outs, nine-man teams and rule against beaning the runner ・must be smiling in his grave in Honolulu, which was the capital of a kingdom when he planted baseball there in the 1850's.
Baseball has suffered on its home turf lately, with the Barry Bonds steroid accusations exemplifying an atmosphere of cynicism and greed that has tainted the sport from the minors to the major leagues. With the supply of homegrown talent in decline, it's possible that baseball could someday become one of those activities, like manual labor and voting, that Americans tackle a lot less enthusiastically than foreigners do.
But enthusiasm is infectious, and the tournament could easily help Americans rediscover their own love of the game, simply by seeing it through the eyes of people from other lands.