Saturday, March 4, 2017

USA Baseball Is Equivalent to England in Soccer


There's a popular line when it comes to soccer: "The English invented the game, but the Brazilians perfected it."

Maybe in baseball, the line should be: "The Americans invented the game, but the Dominicans perfected it."

The truth is, when it comes to international competition, the Americans have really never dominated baseball. The first time there was actually an Olympic Baseball Tournament was in the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. Before then, baseball was simply a demonstration sport where exhibition games are played to draw up popularity and the winners of the games are not added to the medal count.

From 1992-2008, baseball had a tournament at each Summer Olympiad and here were the results.

Barcelona 1992

Gold: Cuba
Silver: Taiwan
Bronze: Japan

Atlanta 1996

Gold: Cuba
Silver: Japan
Bronze: USA

Sydney 2000

Gold: USA
Silver: Cuba
Bronze: South Korea

Athens 2004

Gold: Cuba
Silver: Australia
Bronze: Japan

Beijing 2008

Gold: South Korea
Silver: Cuba
Bronze: USA

Maybe I mispoke, according to the Olympics, it's the Cubans who perfected baseball. I will add that the Dominican Republic only qualified once for the Olympics in 1992 where they finished 6th. We'll see what happens during the tournament in 2020 before we pass judgment on that fact. When you add all the results up, the USA is the 2nd most successful nation in terms of success as they are tied with the Japanese for the most medals with 3, but the USA has won one gold which puts them over the top.

Yes, Tommy Lasorda's 2000 squad won gold, but let's not forget that England has won one World Cup as well in 1966.  England has has only been to the semifinals once since then. The USA also failed to qualify for the games in 2004, which is a lot like England failing to qualify for the 1974, 1978 and 1994 World Cups.

USA Baseball's results at the first three World Baseball Classic events have seen the USA fail to make the championship round in 2006 and 2013 while having their best finish in 2009 which was fourth. That sure seems a lot like England.

Let me clarify that yes, the USA produces more MLB players than any nation, but speaking just in terms of international results, this dominance in baseball that we've all naturally believed just simply hardly exists, much like England.

I'm sure many who read this post will certainly bring up the excuses about the USA never bringing their MLB players to the Olympics or the typical World Baseball Classic excuses that only the USA seems allowed to use. They all seem to mirror the scapegoats that the English media uses when England bows out of each World Cup, "They were all exhausted from the long club season."

Then when the topic of the amount of competitive nations in soccer is compared to baseball, the USA again seems more and more married to England in soccer. Put simply, eight different countries have won the World Cup, while only 4 have won the major international baseball tournaments (USA, Japan, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic) so with that in mind, maybe it's not so crazy to call USA the England of baseball.

If only there could be a popular song that spawns due to the USA's lack of international baseball success like this one for England.

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