World Baseball Classic captured our interest not because it’s baseball, but that flag

Bud Selig fouled a lot of pitches off his face and crotch in his 22-year tenure as MLB commissioner, but his baby that is the WBC is a big league double.

Cliched baseball puns aside, credit to Bud for the vision. Credit the flag for captivating our interest.

The former owner of the Milwaukee Brewers, who was the MLB commissioner from 1992 to 2015, lorded over some of the game’s nastiest scars, including work stoppages and the steroid era. He also created the World Baseball Classic, which concluded on Tuesday night in Miami.

The United States lost 3-2 against Japan on Tuesday night in what is a more of a World Series than the actual World Series.

The event that began in 2006, to the ire and anger of several MLB owners, most notably the late New York Yankees boss George Steinbrenner, works. It’s good for baseball, no matter what the Houston Astros think.

Most likely to the disgust of both the NBA and NHL, MLB is the first to execute an end around on the International Olympic Committee and create its own tournament that generates global interest without sharing a dime of the revenue.

Again, the interest from us ugly Americans in the WBC isn’t really about the game of baseball. The game that supposedly is too long, slow and boring captivated our attention in this tournament.

Thank you, flag.

The event could be beer pong, darts or dog walking, and if you put old glory on the marquee we are Pavlovian dogs.

The greatest moment in the modern era of American sports are not about Jordan, Showtime, TB12, the Big Red Machine, the Yankee Dynasty or Roll Tide. It’s a hockey game.

The Miracle on Ice in the 1980 Winter Olympics may forever remain the standard of American sports moments. The interest level and popularity of that moment had nothing to do with a sport that is firmly behind football, baseball, basketball, college football, the NCAA Tournament, etc.

You attach world pride on a ball game, or any game, and the interest level elevates from irrational to SEC-football brain dead.

The World Baseball Classic does not eclipse the type of passion, care, or interest of an Olympics, but it’s more than Reds at Marlins in May. A WBC game probably generates more interest than Phillies v. Cardinals in the National League Divisional series.

The WBC certainly creates more interest than baseball when it was played during the Olympics.

Of course, the problem with the Olympics and baseball was the best players couldn’t participate. Their schedule didn’t allow it.

No sport needs a steroid injection of interesting more than baseball. MLB’s pre-regular season tournament that is played every three years provides interest, weight, and the players like it.

Teams from Great Britain, Israel, Mexico, Dominican Republic and the rest are fun to watch, even if they stink. Games between Latin American countries are never dull.

The WBC merchandise is flashy, and different.

Baseball is international, and this tournament gave us the the best players in the world actually trying in March.

With the U.S. trailing 3-2 in the top of the ninth inning, the WBC gave us the best individual matchup a current baseball game can produce. Better than any regular season, or postseason, game.

With two outs, Japan closer Shohei Ohtani faced USA outfielder Mike Trout.

The Angels teammates are two of the best talents in baseball. Under normal circumstances, this matchup only happens in table tennis in the Angels’ clubhouse.

Ohtani threw his array of 100 mph pitches that spin and break in such a way that defy physics. On a 3-2 pitch, Trout swung and missed. All three strikes were swinging.

The USA lost, but the bigger winner is baseball.

Bud Selig earned a lot of justified criticism as baseball commissioner but no one can say the man did not love the game. He was terrible in front of a microphone, and too often he was crushed in labor negotiations with the MLB Player’s Association because he never had a unified group of owners behind his back.

He did love baseball.

The World Baseball Classic is his greatest legacy to the game.

Credit Bud.

Credit the flag.