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From Left Field

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By The Staff

Have mercy

I’m trying to get into the World Baseball Classic, honestly. But it’s been difficult to keep my interest. Mostly because I’m set in my ways and I’m used to a certain way things are done.

My main source of frustration is that players I’m used to seeing in a particular uniform are on different teams. For instance, Jerry Hairston, Jr. of the Cincinnati Reds is playing for the team from Mexico. Hairston was born in Naperville, Ill., so why he’s playing for the Mexicans is a little hard for me to grasp. It’s like the Olympics, when an athlete isn’t good enough for one team, he’ll claim ancestral heritage from another country in order to make their team. It happens more than you realize in the Olympics, and apparently that’s what happens in the WBC also.

The Reds have several players scattered across various rosters. Catcher Ramon Hernandez is playing for his birth country of Venezuela, pitcher Edinson Volquez plays for the Dominican Republic, and first baseman Joey Votto is on the Canadian squad. Huh?!

Where should my loyalties lie? If I root for any of these players, will I be considered a traitor for not cheering for the U.S. team? I’m almost afraid to cheer for the U.S. after their 11-1 spanking from Puerto Rico on Saturday. The U.S. lost in seven innings and were saved by the dreaded mercy rule.

I can understand the need for a mercy rule in youth sports, and maybe even at the college level to cut down on injuries and so forth. I just thought I’d never see the day when a bunch of professional baseball players from the U.S. would be subject to the 10-run rule. Granted, the mercy rule is in place in the WBC also to protect players before the start of the regular season. I guess all bets are off once the first pitch on opening day is tossed.

Another thing that the WBC leaves me wondering about is why can’t we do this at the end of the regular season and make it a true World Series? Let’s have the U.S. champions face off against a pool of other teams from around the world. We already know the Japanese have a strong baseball culture, so why can’t it spread across more countries? Wouldn’t it be great to be able to claim that you are truly the best in the world, not just the best in your league or country?

In the meantime, I’m letting the World Baseball Classic run its course. Maybe in time, I’ll embrace it, but for right now, I’m just having a tough time keeping track of off-season trades and signings. I’m confused enough as it is! By the time I learn the U.S. roster, the tournament will be over and they’ll be back to their respective pro teams.

Call me a stick in the mud, but I like a sense of normalcy. But I guess after this year, we’ll be subjected to this chaos every four years. I consider it an annoyance, like the seven-year locust. I can look forward to regular spring trainings for the next three years, then all hell breaks loose again in 2013.

I love baseball, but I like to get to know the ins and outs of a team. There’s a chemistry and commitment that hopefully matures over the length of a season. I just can’t root for a bunch of guys thrown together for a few weeks and expect to form a bond with them. Thank goodness everything will be back to normal on April 6 so I can root for a team that I actually have a connection with.