March 10, 2013

2013 World Baseball Classic -- and language

Okay, so there's a global baseball championship going on. It's called the 2013 World Baseball Classic (a dumb name, with the "classic" moniker, which makes you think it's a repeat). There are games every night. Mexico, Puerto Rico, Italy, US, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Australia and more -- all the countries with baseball teams are included.

But it makes no sense. The "Italian" team is made up of Italian nationals and a whole bunch of American players. Same for all the other "national" teams. Apparently, the competition is being run like religion, where you simply drift to your preferred affiliation. Feel Catholic? You're Catholic. Same here. The players go to whatever team they feel aligned with.

How does that make any sense? Last night, Italy played the U.S. and I found myself rooting for Italy because it had more American players that I really like. Go Italy! And if some country wins, what would it mean? It's a U.S. win, no matter the country name. If this is a global competition, then let each country mount their own team. If you don't do this, the competition is a joke.

Okay, now to language. One of the broadcasters kept using a phrase I haven't heard in years. He'd say stuff like, "He didn't know he'd be playing with the likes of Carlos Beltran tonight!" He did this over and over, talking about the likes of this player and that player. I hadn't heard the phrase in ages, so it really struck me.

What I realized is that this phrase is always a value judgement. Looking around the net, I bumped into many uses of the phrase, For instance, "Oh, Shakespeare is much too intellectual for the likes of me." In this case, it's a put-down. And yet you'll also hear, when a revered politician dies, "We'll not see the likes of him again in our lifetime." I never noticed this. The phrase is all about judgemental attitudes. Just thought I'd point this out.

PS: The "classic" is decimating spring training. The spring training games were great and I was enjoying the hell out of them -- and suddenly they were preempted by these meaningless exhibitions. Sigh. Baseball is run by idiots. But then, that's nothing new.

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