If anybody is really bored on Tuesday night, watch Japan vs. South Korea play each other in the World Baseball Classic. Better yet, if you are in San Diego, go to Petco and watch the game live.
Living in South Korea has giving me tremendous insight into the bitter rivalry between these two countries. I mean this is an ugly, racist, hate-filled rivalry. My eighth-grade students constantly tell me how much they hate Japan and that they hope they will all die. Unfortunately, this dribble is very real, and so is the hatred between these countries.
However, for the sports fan, this makes for some great drama. To put it into an American perspective, this is a rivalry bigger than Lakers-Celtics, Yankees-Red Sox, Cal-Stanford, or Fresno State-Hawaii (that’s right, I threw that in there). Why is it bigger? Because actual wars have been fought over this rivalry. Thousands of lives have been lost. This isn’t like some lame Boston fan gloating about beating the Yankees in the ALCS (all the while ignoring the fact that the Red Sox have evolved into nothing less than another Yankees-like ATM machine for players).
This is a game that will be shown repeatedly on Korean sports television for the next five years, if they win. No joke. Sports channels in Korea still replay World Cup highlights from 2002, when Korea reached the semi-finals. These teams have already matched up twice in the wacky system that is the WBC. Both teams have earned a victory over the other. The winner on Tuesday will take the results of this rubber match back to their home country with immense pride, irregardless of their actual finish in the tournament. So, if you are bored, check out this game, it should be a good one.