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The first World Baseball Classic
 
 
(Click on the images for a larger version.)
gray ballcap
Get your ballcaps on, cause its time for the second father, son baseball trip.

A year ago, my dad and I decided every two years we'd get together to drink beer, solve the world's problems, and watch the Cardinals play a few baseball games. However, in my email one day this March was a note from MLB.com saying something like "World Baseball Classic tickets on sale today". I thought I'd check out how much they cost. I clicked the link: sorry, tickets go on sale in 20 seconds. I clicked again, and I must have been one of the first persons in the queue, because next thing I knew I had 2 tickets in the 6th row, center behind home plate for all six WBC Pool D games in Orlando. I called my dad and told him he had two minutes to figure out if he could go or not.
 
wbc tickets
He said, take em, I'll try to get free. So our biannual trip had temporarily morphed into an annual one.
 
wbc first game
There was a lot of press about the World Baseball Classic (WBC). This year was the first year to try it. It was planned a little like a world cup soccer tournament. So that for once we could determine the real world champion of baseball. Many reporters thought it would flop. We knew, flop or not, it was worth it to sit in the sixth row behind home plate and watch Pujols and Ortiz in the same lineup batting 3rd and 4th. The infield for the Dominican Republic: Albert Pujols, Alfonso Soriano, Miguel Tejada, Adrian Beltre. wow...
 
wbc first game dominican
The trip to the first game let us know this wasn't going to be a boring game with a stadium full of Florida retirees. It was Venezuela vs. Dominican Republic, the two best teams in the Orlando (Pool D) segment of the tournament. The cars on the way there were all honking with team flags streaming out the windows. And there were soooooo many colorful people waiting to get into the stadium and trying to buy tickets for the game (one ticket was going for more than I paid for all six of ours).
 
wbc first game fans 1
Although we were both wishing we'd worn shorts, my dad and I could hardly believe we were at a baseball game. Stereotypical baseball fans are middle aged men with overpriced beers talking about what the manager should be doing.
 
wbc first game fans 2
But to Dominican and Venezuelan fans, baseball is a dance party where you rest every now and again by watching a few middle aged men hit a ball.

In between pitches, innings, loads of beautiful women and happy men (perhaps because their women are so beautiful) get up and dance and play drums. Your team scores: dance; a hit: dance; foul ball: dance; manager comes to talk with the pitcher: dance; other team scores: eh, well ok, DANCE!
 
wbc pujols
Pujols didn't hit one out for us.
 
wbc big Papi
But Big Papi hit two (so did Beltre).
 
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It was clear in the first inning
 
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that the rumors of players possibly not playing hard because it was the preseason were not true. Sure they were rusty, but these two rivals both really wanted to win.
 
wbc fans 1
And these latin american fans wanted bragging rights.
 
wbc scouts 1
My dad and I, with our keen baseball intellects, fit right in with the scouts that were surrounding us.
 
wbc scouts 2
Hah! Just kidding, we were surrounded by extreme baseball nuts that knew all kinds of info about who was doing what in the minor leagues. These two Venezuelan scouts were pretty helpful in answering everyone's baseball questions.
 
wbc cabrera
Although, Miguel Cabrera put in an impressive performance
 
wbc dominican wins
The bragging rights for this match go to Dominican Republic (11-5 was the final score).
 
wbc dominican fans 3
My dad heard a guy talking on a cell phone to someone that pretty much summed up the experience: I just watched an All Star game in a minor league baseball park. Combine that with these amazing fans and my dad and I have already planned on seeing the next World Baseball Classic.
 
wbc italy
By the time we finished lunch at the Wide World of Sports Bar, it was time for the second game.
 
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We were both glad we didn't wear shorts, because it got pretty cold when the sun went down.
 
wbc italy australia
The second game was Italy vs. Australia. Dad and I were pulling hard for Ilaria's country. This really was pretty much a minor league game
 
wbc italy piazza
with Mike Piazza catching.
 
wbc italy piazza 2
It was a rout (no thanks to Piazza). Italy won 11-0. We left early though cause we were too cold and the winner was clear.

The best parts of the game were the Italian national anthem and the names sewn on the Italian jerseys. In the first game the entire stadium was filled with people singing. But for this game the stadium was empty and the few fans around us all declared that the Italians need a baseball version of their extremely long national anthem (by the end we were all laughing and just wondering when it would end). As for the jerseys, how is this for a lineup: Giarratano, Menechino, Catalonotto, Piazza, Sinisi, Pascucci, Saccamanno, Gregorio. That ain't a ball team, it's a Formula 1 race.
 
ellie
Because the WBC was in Orlando, we had a free place to stay at my sisters and we got to play with the little ones.
 
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Gray is getting bigger.
 
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And figuring out how to work his legs.
 
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He likes his pawpaw,
 
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is very cute,
 
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and thinks about
 
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many
 
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deep and important things.
 
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Ellie likes to climb stuff. She even got pawpaw to hang from the pole at the playground.
 
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Time to
 
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go back home to Retse and Scotts' to get ready for our final game.
 
wbc last game
The last game we watched was between Italy and Venezuela. The rest of the tickets we gave away (to my sister) or sold (to scalpers), because my dad had an important meeting to go to.

Even though we only went to half of the games, we saw the best game and it was an unforgettable one. I can't wait for the next World Baseball Classic.