Thursday, July 9, 2009

Is America Still Number 1?

Sure the World Baseball Classic was not a huge deal in the mind of many Americans, but to the rest of the world it was monumental. The Japanese and Koreans sold out stadiums as the nation glued to their TV sets. When the Netherlands upset the mighty Dominican Republic twice, the nation went crazy. But when America was almost eliminated, the press did not cover it in the same style their Japanese counterparts did. Many American players turned down the offer and left early when little injuries could derail their spring training. Although America won in a last at bat to advance, more coverage was given to the NBA and the beginning of March Madness. America did not win the finals, and many questioned if the best baseball was really being played in the MLB.
After the NBA changed their rules so that high school players must play a season after college before being eligible for the draft, most players went to school for one year. A lot of them left after skipping classes and only going to practice. OJ Mayo is being accused of hiring an agent and receiving money while at school at USC, and such events led to the resignation of Tim Floyd. When Ricky Rubio was selected by the struggling Timberwolves, he may opt out of the pick and go play in his native Spain and receive more money, to either re enter the draft next year or continue to play in Europe.
Europe has signed players from hockey and basketball leagues much more often lately. The NBA lost the likes of Earl Boykins and top high school prospect Brandon Jennings for big bucks. Jaromir Jagr, Sergei Federov, Ray Whitney, John Graham and Ed Belfour have all left the NHL for Swedish Elite Leagues and the new Kontinental Hockey League for money and an opportunity to play in a big new league.
The World is certainly catching up to the US in many sports and is challenging the US in supremacy for having the top sporting leagues (besides soccer) in the world.

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