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Sunday, March 17, 2013

Passan: World Baseball Classic truth: U.S. fans are boring

Hey…what do you expect from a society that Dockingly waits 3.5 hours for a lameass, bar band version of “In the Midnight Hour”?!

That is the kind way of saying: American fans are boring. And players, too. Because we are. We rationalize it through our willingness to placate those who might react poorly. Those are the people who think the loudest a stadium should get is when the NOISE METER flashes on the Jumbotron. It’s not just the wine-and-cheese crowd, either. The sterilization of American baseball crosses boundaries socioeconomic, racial, age and sex alike.

And here’s the thing: It is an issue unique to America among baseball powerhouses. Japan, a country with a culture that values respect and deference, nevertheless fosters an environment with beating drums and constant chants and players acknowledging achievements with a hand signal or a greeting outside of the dugout. It is not quite as blatant as the D.R. It is evident still.

It’s unfortunate America won’t watch any of it, for the same reason America doesn’t watch the World Series: Baseball is a parochial sport. We love our teams more than we do the sport. And that’s fine. It’s a natural evolution. As football grew to supplant baseball as the nation’s obsession, baseball needed to find a new role, and it has: the summer outing, the local treasure, the safe option.

Were people to tune in, they’d see baseball can capture the dynamism of college basketball and football, our two sports that feel as much like a rock concert as they do a sporting event. Much has been made of the United States not having the same passion for baseball as the Dominican Republic or Japan. That’s rationalizing. And it’s not true. If conventions were different – if players and fans both weren’t boxed in to a preconceived set of emotions, reactions and morés – American baseball would be just like the rest of the world.

That’s the truth. And it would be the furthest thing from embarrassing.

Repoz Posted: March 17, 2013 at 09:52 AM | 52 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: wbc

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   1. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: March 17, 2013 at 11:05 AM (#4389806)
Eh. I don't care about the WBC (like most people, including most baseball fans, don't care about the WBC) because it doesn't mean anything. Which entrant in this year's WBC had the biggest delta between the best roster they could have fielded relative to the roster they actually fielded? It's obviously the U.S. team. If you want to criticize the American players, American culture, blah, blah, that's fine - no other country's team made the following rotation "stay home":

Justin Verlander
David Price
Jered Weaver
Chris Sale
Max Scherzer

And a team that is carrying four outfielders, and one of them is Shane Victorino, who won't start for the Red Sox by the All-Star break, but does not have Mike Trout or Josh Hamilton (heck, how about Alex Gordon?) on its roster? And we wonder why almost nobody in the U.S. gives a ####?

Well, at least the Netherlands is in the Final Four. That sounds about right.
   2. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: March 17, 2013 at 11:06 AM (#4389808)
Eh. I don't care about the WBC (like most people, including most baseball fans, don't care about the WBC) because it doesn't mean anything. Which entrant in this year's WBC had the biggest delta between the best roster they could have fielded relative to the roster they actually fielded? It's obviously the U.S. team. If you want to criticize the American players, American culture, blah, blah, that's fine - no other country's team made the following rotation "stay home":

Justin Verlander
David Price
Jered Weaver
Chris Sale
Max Scherzer

And a team that is carrying four outfielders, and one of them is Shane Victorino, who won't start for the Red Sox by the All-Star break, but does not have Mike Trout or Josh Hamilton (heck, how about Alex Gordon?) not on its roster? And we wonder why almost nobody in the U.S. gives a ####?

Well, at least the Netherlands is in the Final Four. That sounds about right.
   3. RMc's desperate, often sordid world Posted: March 17, 2013 at 11:23 AM (#4389818)
Eh. I don't care about Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer.
   4. RMc's desperate, often sordid world Posted: March 17, 2013 at 11:23 AM (#4389819)
Eh. I don't care about Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer.
   5. OsunaSakata Posted: March 17, 2013 at 11:29 AM (#4389824)
Props then to John Adams, the Cleveland drummer who has his own bobblehead giveaway at Jacobs Field.
   6. booond Posted: March 17, 2013 at 11:43 AM (#4389838)
The only part of the WBC any American fan cares about is injuries. If your MLB team's players went through this exhibition injury-free then it was a successful tournament.
   7. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: March 17, 2013 at 11:49 AM (#4389844)
Have you actually watched some of the games? Especially any of the host team tilts in the Asian groups? Because there's a lot of baseball fans who would passionately disagree with you about the WBC. I've seen them on my television going crazy, and read about how 1/3rd to 1/2 of all the televisions in Japan were tuned into the games played there.

Also, the USA had it's top players at RF, LF, 3B, and C, and both Rollins and Phillips are among the very best at their position, especially with Tulo coming off an injury plagued year. Ben Zobrist was the 4th IF, and he's one of the best players in baseball. The only places where the US didn't have their best foot forward in the field was at 1B, second C, and 6th IF. Likewise, Dickey is a better starter than Weaver, Sale, and Scherzer while Gio Gonzalez is as good as they are. There are very few MLB teams that could do better than a rotation of Dickey, Gonzalez, Vogelsong, Holland, and Detwiler. The bullpen really couldn't have been much better, Mitchell Boggs and Heath Bell are the only ones with an ERA above 3 last year and it would be the best bullpen in MLB if you put any combination of them on a single team. Had this US team been playing in the major leagues, they might win 130 games. To say that it's not worth watching because the US team is made up of a bunch of also rans is simply indefensible, and the fact that Verlander, Kershaw, Price, Trout, Andrew McCutchen and Prince Fielder weren't on the team (they represent the only clear upgrades over their counterparts on the roster) is simply not enough to say that the US wasn't trying to win.

Also, also, you can try laughing at the Dutch, but they've got better infield defense (and possibly overall defense) than any team currently in the majors. Your attitude smacks of someone who doesn't even realize how ignorant they are. They got to the semis by being a little lucky and turning a ludicrous number of double plays.

Finally, it's pretty ####### clear you aren't even a fan of all MLB baseball, your stud rotation doesn't even have Clayton Kershaw and you would pick Josh Hamilton over Andrew McCutchen. So I guess you have a point that the team must not be all that good if by that you mean it isn't basically the AL all-star team, and why you don't recognize exactly how good the US team is. You haven't even been paying attention to half the majors. What a parochial, blinkered, ignorant statement. Get out of your mother's basement and watch a few games.
   8. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: March 17, 2013 at 11:51 AM (#4389849)
The only part of the WBC any American fan cares about is injuries.


I think my #7 pretty strongly refutes that notion. And I can't tell if I'm being the baseball hipster for being so into the WBC or everyone else is by turning their noses up at the best baseball to be had outside of the playoffs.
   9. booond Posted: March 17, 2013 at 12:03 PM (#4389855)
I think my #7 pretty strongly refutes that notion.


For you it does and that's fine. But American baseball fans, in general, are not talking about the WBC. It is unimportant.
   10. Flynn Posted: March 17, 2013 at 12:04 PM (#4389857)
I don't really want US fans waving giant inflatable dildos or beating drums. All that Asian go team go stuff obscures the fact that by doing all of that crap they aren't actually paying attention to the game. I'd much rather have American fans just be ####### engaged with the action rather than wondering where the nearest all-you-can-eat BBQ stand is.
   11. puck Posted: March 17, 2013 at 12:11 PM (#4389863)
I'm ok with the US style of spectatorship. It seems pretty clear there are stadiums that have more energy and don't just wait for the jumbotron. I'm fine with supporters' groups if they want to sing but I don't care to do it myself.

When I'm watching on tv, the atmosphere in the stadium is way down the list on things that are important to me; heck, most of that has to do with the mix the tv producer decides on. So when NBCSN shows MLS games, they turn up the supporters' groups because for some reason they think a loud crowd will make up for potential lack of excitement in the game itself.
   12. John Northey Posted: March 17, 2013 at 12:14 PM (#4389865)
It is clear MLB needs to pressure a few more stars but would that up the fan support? Look at 2006's US roster...
Pitching: Roger Clemens, Dontrelle Willis (when he was good), Jake Peavy (off a sub 3 ERA season), Huston Street (ROY closer), Brad Lidge (42 saves)
CA: Jason Varitek
1B: Derrek Lee (3rd in MVP, led in OPS) & Mark Teixeira
2B: Chase Utley (132 OPS+ in 2005)
3B: A-Rod & Chipper Jones
SS: Jeter & Michael Young
LF: Matt Holliday (a meh choice)
CF: Vernon Wells (when he was viewed as a good player), Ken Griffey, Jr. (144 OPS+), Johnny Damon (moved from Boston to NY that winter), Randy Winn (off his best season)
RF: Jeff Francoeur (124 OPS+ as a rookie)

Not a bad team there. Lots of names we all know, lots of all-stars and guys who would've been viewed as best or near best at their positions. And they lost to Team Canada in Round 1, and South Korea and Mexico in Round 2.

I was mistaken about how George Steinbrenner would view it - he hated the WBC as it took his players away during spring training. Bit surprised as he always seemed like one of those 'super patriot' guys. Guess he thought it was obvious the US was the best so why bother. Little did he know the US would have yet to make the top 3 after 3 of these.
   13. RollingWave Posted: March 17, 2013 at 12:15 PM (#4389868)
It is entirely evident watching team US play that the only guy on that team that didn't think the WBC mattered was Joe Torre.

I guess the US probably need to lose in the first round in humiliating fashion to get the fans to care.

   14. Tripon Posted: March 17, 2013 at 12:20 PM (#4389873)
The WBC is at the wrong time to be relevant. It'll help if the games were played during say, May - July, to help give it that World Cup feel, but that won't ever happen.
   15. JJ1986 Posted: March 17, 2013 at 12:31 PM (#4389879)
Pitching: Roger Clemens, Dontrelle Willis (when he was good), Jake Peavy (off a sub 3 ERA season), Huston Street (ROY closer), Brad Lidge (42 saves)


Al Leiter, who had just posted a 67 ERA+. They weren't taking it seriously even then.
   16. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: March 17, 2013 at 12:44 PM (#4389882)
People are obviously free to like it or not like it...but I find it odd that people posting on a board devoted to baseball who obviously love baseball wouldn't love great baseball...which the WBC is. I've enjoyed it far more than, say, last years World Series.
   17. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: March 17, 2013 at 12:45 PM (#4389884)
Also, if we get a Japan/Domonican Republic final, how the hell could you not want to watch that.
   18. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: March 17, 2013 at 12:53 PM (#4389886)
Other teams were more hurt by not having top guys there than the us - they have less depth.

I would absolutely be amused if having giant inflatable dildos became popular over here.

Agree with rollingwave's 13.
   19. John Northey Posted: March 17, 2013 at 01:03 PM (#4389890)
#15 - my point was that a lot of stars did go. Didn't check Leiter's stats - I'm guessing what happened is a lot of stars must have said no but they did have luck at the top end - especially on offense with 2 solid guys at 3B and SS, a batch in CF, 2 at 1B.

The biggest challenge is pitching. How to get pitchers to go? That is what Bud should work on with clubs and players - find out how to get the pitchers feeling safe to go. Has there been a single pitcher injury (to MLB players) yet? Have MLB pitchers who have gone had issues that season? I don't know, but people talk in fear of it yet I haven't seen stats or studies on it yet.
   20. booond Posted: March 17, 2013 at 01:08 PM (#4389893)
People are obviously free to like it or not like it...but I find it odd that people posting on a board devoted to baseball who obviously love baseball wouldn't love great baseball...which the WBC is. I've enjoyed it far more than, say, last years World Series.


To me it's time devoted. Where is my limited time going? If this was the World Cup or the Olympics or March Madness, Football playoffs/Super Bowl, I carve out the time even if my team isn't competing but it isn't. It is an exhibition. It is an extended series of All-Star games which have no heft. In the end the games have much more meaning to fans in all the other countries than it does for US fans because the US has nothing to win.
   21. Joey B.: posting for the kids of northeast Ohio Posted: March 17, 2013 at 01:33 PM (#4389903)
This guy obviously missed seeing tens of thousands of hayseeds down in Atlanta throwing their beer bottles onto the field in the playoffs last year.

It was a lot of things, but "boring" certainly wasn't one of them.
   22. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: March 17, 2013 at 01:42 PM (#4389911)
To me it's time devoted. Where is my limited time going? If this was the World Cup or the Olympics or March Madness, Football playoffs/Super Bowl, I carve out the time even if my team isn't competing but it isn't. It is an exhibition. It is an extended series of All-Star games which have no heft.

Isn't that true of the [FIFA] World Cup as well?

In the end the games have much more meaning to fans in all the other countries than it does for US fans because the US has nothing to win.

What does this mean?
   23. Gamingboy Posted: March 17, 2013 at 01:54 PM (#4389919)
What's really ironic is that the fan atmosphere in 19th century and early 20th century baseball would make soccer hooligans blush.
   24. booond Posted: March 17, 2013 at 01:56 PM (#4389920)
[quote

   25. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: March 17, 2013 at 01:59 PM (#4389925)
Isn't that true of the [FIFA] World Cup as well?


What was Soccer like when the WC first started? Were there major professional leagues, or was it mostly international competition between national teams?
   26. cmd600 Posted: March 17, 2013 at 02:01 PM (#4389930)
Why would any American MLB player want to play in an event where they are going to be roundly scapegoated for the random nature of a couple baseball games?
   27. puck Posted: March 17, 2013 at 02:03 PM (#4389932)
Isn't that true of the [FIFA] World Cup as well?

You think the World Cup has no heft?
   28. Posada Posse Posted: March 17, 2013 at 02:07 PM (#4389936)
Has there been a single pitcher injury (to MLB players) yet?


The only serious pitching injury I recall was to middle reliever Luis Ayala in 2006, who missed the season due to an elbow injury while pitching for Mexico during the WBC.
   29. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 17, 2013 at 02:16 PM (#4389943)
In the end the games have much more meaning to fans in all the other countries than it does for US fans because the US has nothing to win.

What does this mean?


The US has the best players so it is expected to win. So it doesn't win anything by winning. It can only lose, at which point people dump all over the US for losing, as has happened here.
   30. Greg K Posted: March 17, 2013 at 02:28 PM (#4389947)
The US has the best players so it is expected to win. So it doesn't win anything by winning. It can only lose, at which point people dump all over the US for losing, as has happened here.

I think this is patently true, at least in terms of general national fan interest. I would wager that being able to point to a trophy that claims "best in the world" was an important meaning for Japan, Cuba, and the Dominicans. Proving themselves against their more well-regarded neighbours provides incentive for others (Canada, Korea, Puerto Rico) or proving they deserve to be on the elite stage (Taiwan, the Dutch...though at this point the Dutch have proved that point and then some).

The USA can't really make a "statement" in the WBC in the same way. Americans already think of themselves as the best baseballing nation (and with good reason), so the WBC as a proving ground for that fact is redundant.

*It's implied in my post, but just to make it explicit, I mean the generality of fans. I know there are American fans for whom winning the WBC would mean something.
   31. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: March 17, 2013 at 02:33 PM (#4389950)
If this was the World Cup or the Olympics or March Madness, Football playoffs/Super Bowl, I carve out the time even if my team isn't competing but it isn't

You think the World Cup has no heft?

No, I think it's an extended series of all-star games

If this was the World Cup or the Olympics or March Madness, Football playoffs/Super Bowl, I carve out the time even if my team isn't competing but it isn't

The US has the best players so it is expected to win. So it doesn't win anything by winning. It can only lose, at which point people dump all over the US for losing, as has happened here.

And yet the poster would carve out time for the Olympics, and fans of the 1927 and 1998 Yankees came to the Stadium in droves. Not to mention the US team isn't head and shoulders above the Dominican team in terms of player-for-player talent and has never won anything in the WBC. I don't see how they're "expected to win".
   32. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: March 17, 2013 at 02:50 PM (#4389959)
Finally, it's pretty ####### clear you aren't even a fan of all MLB baseball, your stud rotation doesn't even have Clayton Kershaw and you would pick Josh Hamilton over Andrew McCutchen. So I guess you have a point that the team must not be all that good if by that you mean it isn't basically the AL all-star team, and why you don't recognize exactly how good the US team is. You haven't even been paying attention to half the majors. What a parochial, blinkered, ignorant statement. Get out of your mother's basement and watch a few games.

It's all good. It is perhaps because I "have a life" that I didn't seek to create the "real" optimum WBC U.S. team by investing an extra 30 seconds, when the point is sufficiently made. That I am able to pick a handful of AL pitchers and come up with a rotation that would be a lot better illustrates how much better we could do than the current squad.

On a different topic, a genuine question: About half of the roster of the Netherlands is made up of players who claim Curacao as their birthplace. As of late 2010, if I understand correctly, Curacao became an autonomous country upon the formal breakup of the Dutch Antilles (although the Netherlands still handles defense and foreign policy for them). Why would an autonomous country, with a pretty darn impressive baseball pedigree of its own, fold into another country for this tournament, while Puerto Rico - an unincorporated territory of the United States, and obviously not its own country - has its own WBC entry?

   33. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: March 17, 2013 at 03:03 PM (#4389964)
Double post.
   34. Baldrick Posted: March 17, 2013 at 03:03 PM (#4389965)
On a different topic, a genuine question: About half of the roster of the Netherlands is made up of players who claim Curacao as their birthplace. As of late 2010, if I understand correctly, Curacao became an autonomous country upon the formal breakup of the Dutch Antilles (although the Netherlands still handles defense and foreign policy for them). Why would an autonomous country, with a pretty darn impressive baseball pedigree of its own, fold into another country for this tournament, while Puerto Rico - an unincorporated territory of the United States, and obviously not its own country - has its own WBC entry?

Because that's what they want to do.

Doesn't seem very complicated.
   35. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: March 17, 2013 at 03:04 PM (#4389966)
On a different topic, a genuine question: About half of the roster of the Netherlands is made up of players who claim Curacao as their birthplace. As of late 2010, if I understand correctly, Curacao became an autonomous country upon the formal breakup of the Dutch Antilles (although the Netherlands still handles defense and foreign policy for them). Why would an autonomous country, with a pretty darn impressive baseball pedigree of its own, fold into another country for this tournament, while Puerto Rico - an unincorporated territory of the United States, and obviously not its own country - has its own WBC entry?


Curacao is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and that's what the team competes as. It is under the Dutch Crown, but not the Dutch Parliament. PR competes as a separate entity because both they and the US are good enough to form independent competitive teams. Few if any players from PR would have been on the US team. As a practical matter, a Curacao team would be hurt as a stand alone entity, and thus the tourney is enhanced by a Kingdom of the Netherlands team, as well as independent US and PR teams.
   36. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: March 17, 2013 at 03:10 PM (#4389968)
What was Soccer like when the WC first started? Were there major professional leagues, or was it mostly international competition between national teams?

Soccer leagues, professional or otherwise far pre-date the World Cup (1930). The teams from Great Britain did not bother to attend until 1950.

The truth is that the World Cup is far and away the best advertisement for the sport around the world, and is of immense benefit to the professional teams in England and Spain. That the benefits aren't as direct and more difficult to point to as things like not having your players risk injury, doesn't mean they don't exist. The kind of money a team like Manchester United or Barcelona makes globally simply does not exist without the World Cup as a vehicle to bring the professional aspect of the sport to places outside of Europe.

There is no bigger boon to developing interest in the sport of baseball outside of the United States than the growth of the World Baseball Classic. Unlike in American football, there's actually substantial potential for that growth.
   37. Random Transaction Generator Posted: March 17, 2013 at 03:47 PM (#4389986)
I don't really want US fans waving giant inflatable dildos or beating drums.


Are you trying to be funny, or just have a terrible memory?

   38. Gamingboy Posted: March 17, 2013 at 03:51 PM (#4389991)
I seem to remember reading that the FIFA World Cup didn't hit it's stride until the 1950s (although WWII and such probably played a factor as well), and I know for a fact that the Olympics didn't become anything important until 1908 or 1912, depending on who you ask. Olympic basketball has fluctuated between important and irrelevant about four times, as has Olympic hockey- both of them are currently in an "important" cycle.
   39. bunyon Posted: March 17, 2013 at 04:36 PM (#4390023)
The WBC has done one thing exceedingly well: it's exposed US baseball fans as whiny a$$holes.
   40. Swedish Chef Posted: March 17, 2013 at 05:18 PM (#4390057)
I seem to remember reading that the FIFA World Cup didn't hit it's stride until the 1950s (although WWII and such probably played a factor as well), and I know for a fact that the Olympics didn't become anything important until 1908 or 1912,

England 1966 defined the World Cup experience in many ways, and then came color TV and changed everything. Sweden 1958 was a very low-key affair in comparison, with group games played in stadiums that had 3000 seats on benches and the like. I have a clipped article somewhere about FIFA's inspection of one of those stadiums, the only complaint was the absence of warm showers.

Regarding the Olympics, I believe Hitler provided the blueprint for the modern Olympic monstrosity.
   41. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: March 17, 2013 at 05:38 PM (#4390069)
The WBC has done one thing exceedingly well: it's exposed US baseball fans as whiny a$$holes.

This isn't fair to the thousands who show up at the games and support the team or those that watch on TV. It's just that there aren't that many of those people.
   42. Gamingboy Posted: March 17, 2013 at 05:44 PM (#4390073)

Regarding the Olympics, I believe Hitler provided the blueprint for the modern Olympic monstrosity.


Yeah, it is one of the the IOC's many dark not-so-secrets that much of the Olympic pagentry can be traced to 1936, but what I meant was that people really started to pay attention to the Olympics as a legitimate event until 1908 or 1912. Before that, the Olympics were usually just a side-show to larger events like Worlds' Fairs and usually were only getting the good athletes of the home country. In fact, there was even an unofficial 1906 Olympics in Athens that were basically meant to remind people that the Olympics were their own thing.
   43. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: March 17, 2013 at 05:54 PM (#4390076)
well, i have enjoyed the wbc

   44. Greg K Posted: March 17, 2013 at 06:10 PM (#4390080)
I believe Hitler provided the blueprint for the modern Olympic monstrosity.

Proving once again that even the best of us make the occasional false step.
   45. RMc's desperate, often sordid world Posted: March 17, 2013 at 07:39 PM (#4390119)
Regarding the Olympics, I believe Hitler provided the blueprint for the modern Olympic monstrosity.

Read the book "Nazi Games", and you'll realize the SOBs pretty much invented the modern Olympics as we know them: wall-to-wall media coverage (including a new thing called television), the use of sport for ideological purposes, and even the Olympic Flame itself. (Thought that was taken from the Ancient Greeks? Naah, the friggin' Nazis came up with it.)
   46. BDC Posted: March 17, 2013 at 08:39 PM (#4390152)
Why would an autonomous country, with a pretty darn impressive baseball pedigree of its own, fold into another country for this tournament

Meh, national teams have very complicated histories. Why does Ireland play as two teams in football and one in rugby? This could be (probably has been) the subject of a dissertation,
   47. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: March 17, 2013 at 09:53 PM (#4390174)
Proving once again that even the best of us make the occasional false step.


Very well played.

It's all good. It is perhaps because I "have a life" that I didn't seek to create the "real" optimum WBC U.S. team by investing an extra 30 seconds, when the point is sufficiently made. That I am able to pick a handful of AL pitchers and come up with a rotation that would be a lot better illustrates how much better we could do than the current squad.


If you'd spent an extra thirty seconds, and actually paid attention to baseball, you'd realize the US team was pretty ####### good. You can legitimately complain about the format of the tournament but to say the USA didn't put anything like their best team out there means you actually don't watch baseball. So enjoy whatever team you watch, but if you're a Royals fan guess ####### what, Alex Gordon ain't the best LF from the United States. Your response proves nothing, and you diminish yourself by listing a bunch of people who are inferior to THIS US squad.
   48. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: March 17, 2013 at 10:13 PM (#4390185)
Regarding the Olympics, I believe Hitler provided the blueprint for the modern Olympic monstrosity.


Yeah, it is one of the the IOC's many dark not-so-secrets that much of the Olympic pagentry can be traced to 1936, but what I meant was that people really started to pay attention to the Olympics as a legitimate event until 1908 or 1912. Before that, the Olympics were usually just a side-show to larger events like Worlds' Fairs and usually were only getting the good athletes of the home country. In fact, there was even an unofficial 1906 Olympics in Athens that were basically meant to remind people that the Olympics were their own thing.

It's hard to believe, but as bad as the Berlin Olympics were, the St. Louis Olympics of 1904 made the Hitler games look enlightened by comparison. Anyone here ever heard of that Olympics' "Anthropology Days"?

America’s first Olympics may have been its worst, or at least its most bizarre. Held in 1904 in St. Louis, the games were tied to that year’s World’s Fair, which celebrated the centennial of the Louisiana Purchase while advancing, as did all such turn-of-the-century expositions, the notion of American imperialism. Although there were moments of surprising and genuine triumph (gymnast George Eyser earned six medals, including three gold, despite his wooden leg), the games were largely overshadowed by the fair, which offered its own roster of sporting events, including the controversial Anthropology Days, in which a group of “savages” recruited from the fair’s international villages competed in a variety of athletic feats—among them a greased-pole climb, “ethnic” dancing, and mud slinging—for the amusement of Caucasian spectators. Pierre de Coubertin, a French historian and founder of the International Olympic Committee, took disapproving note of the spectacle and made a prescient observation: “As for that outrageous charade, it will of course lose its appeal when black men, red men and yellow men learn to run, jump and throw, and leave the white men behind them.”...

   49. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 18, 2013 at 12:21 PM (#4390503)
I would not have picked this thread as a particularly likely candidate to be Godwined.
   50. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 18, 2013 at 12:27 PM (#4390508)
Oh, and whatever you think of boisterous vs. non-boisterousness, there should be international criminal court proceedings against those high-pitched horns a few people seem to be bringing to games. From the sound of it, it started out with one guy and seems to be spreading. They have the potential to be more obnoxious than the vuvuzelas.
   51. Ebessan Posted: March 18, 2013 at 01:18 PM (#4390560)
Meh, national teams have very complicated histories. Why does Ireland play as two teams in football and one in rugby?

The West Indies cricket team is composed of ten different independent states, plus American, British, and Dutch dependencies. And the sport is about 100 times better off for it. Let what works work.
   52. Belfry Bob Posted: March 18, 2013 at 03:09 PM (#4390633)
I can't stand noisemakers or drums at a game I'm watching on TV or attending. I sure don't mind fans getting into the game, but not that stuff. I wonder how many people stay AWAY from A's games when they have all those drum corps playing all the time...I sure wouldn't go to one.

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