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WBC: Are American Fans Boring?

WBC: Are American Fans Boring?

I’ve followed this World Baseball Classic all over the web reading article after article and tweet after tweet. And there is one thing that seems to stand out, which Jeff Passan said best, “Major League Baseball promotes the WBC as an entity to spread the game internationally. Turns out we’re the ones with a thing or two to learn.”

Passan wrote an article calling American fans boring. I couldn’t agree more.

Let me preface this by saying I’ve spent the last three years living in baseball crazy South Korea. Here they dance, cheer, sing, and beat their thundersticks (which they came up with) no matter what the score is in the game.

Throughout the Classic there has been a lot of, as Passan puts it, “bellyaching and bitching about the horns and flag-waving and general enthusiasm that emanates from the fan bases of Latin American teams” And it’s not just the Latin American fans. You could include the Asian Fans in that as well. The US fans just haven’t seen them in person yet.

But why are we “bellyaching and bitching”? We should embrace it and take from it, not just that it’s okay to actually cheer, that it’s okay to have fun. So much of watching a game back home in the US is either yelling at your own guys because they did something wrong or yelling at the other team because, well, they aren’t your team.

Baseball is more than that. We usually sit and wait for the big play to stand up and cheer. Why? Why can’t we stand up and cheer at any point in the game? It not only breeds excitement in the stands, but it breeds excitement on the field and the players feed off of that.

Our society as a whole is too worried about ‘showing someone up’. When you stand at home plate and admire a long home run you are showing someone up. When you are cheering for your team and you show emotion you’re not.

Maybe it’s not considered ‘politically correct’. I’m here to tell you that being “PC” will be the downfall of the West.

Baseball is an emotional game. So let’s see some of that emotion. Don’t hold it in. Let it out.

And why are so many people not on board with the WBC? Time after time I’ve seen from a so-called “baseball fan” and even a lot of reporters that cover the came that they just can’t get into it. I don’t get it.

This has been some of the most exciting baseball played in a long time. There are so many interesting story lines, upsets, Cinderella stories if you will, yet so many people can’t get behind it at all.

They say it’s boring. That just means you haven’t watched any of it.

They say the games don’t matter, yet worry about their team in spring training. I can’t even begin to point out the irony there.

I think we would all like to see the best players in the tournament. But if we are all sitting here saying it doesn’t matter, why should they play? We need to express just how much it does matter to them. Then they will be more inclined to play. But we are never going to get there with all of the negative talk about why this thing doesn’t matter.

Just read the comments of Passan’s article. They complain about him, baseball, the tournament, and the players. Some of them are so misguided it’s not even funny. Since when does football have “unrelenting action”? You watch a football game for three hours and they actually play for what 15 minutes? Since when is that “unrelenting action”?

Of course most of the ones that make the really bad comments can’t even post under their own name. There are a lot of trolls on the internet. But there are a lot of fans that seem to be misguided and that is not good for the game.

If so many people are concerned about their team, why can’t they see the bigger picture? This tournament helps the game AROUND THE WORLD! In return that only helps the big leagues. Do you really think that this tournament doesn’t matter to places like Italy or the Netherlands? Baseball got some much needed exposure in those countries which only helps in the long run.

Perhaps that’s the problem with US fans. We are too concerned about what is happening right now to even see the long term effects of the tournament. We are a society that needs instant gratification, but if the fans could only see that this tournament helps their Dodgers or Yankees or Red Sox in the long run maybe they could support it a little more.

As a fan of the game, and a fan of growing the game worldwide, it’s frustrating to see so many fans, and at times writers, bash the tournament and say it is meaningless. They just don’t get it, but hopefully one day they will.

Keep up the good work Jeff Passan. Even if you write things that many American fans can’t stomach.

Edit: I wanted to clarify two points that I have seem to blend together here. Here is point #1

About Eric Bynum
Eric Bynum is Managing Editor here at BaseballdeWorld. He spent three years as an ESL teacher in South Korea, and is now working on his master's degree in history with a focus on baseball and WWII. He has played and/or written about baseball for the past 30 years and is an avid Atlanta Braves fan.

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  • Kevin Cunningham

    I agree with your points about how some U.S. fans need to look beyond their own borders and see how important this is to the sport…but I definitely disagree that U.S. fans are boring and significantly disagree with the way Passan paints U.S. fans with a wide brush.

    There is a legitimate problem with the fact that players and teams are not taking this as seriously as they should. There have been numerous articles about teams dissuading their players from going or having serious concerns about the ones who did. I think that culture is part of what’s filtering down to the fans. It also doesn’t help that, domestically in the U.S., games are only on MLB Network. Many of my friends have expressed interest in the Classic, but can’t watch it because they (mostly a younger demographic) can’t afford the expensive cable packages that get MLB Network. That has prevented them from getting involved with it.

    MLB definitely needs to improve access to these games to help American fans get excited, and they should be the ones who get the blasting for having not done so.

    As far as Passan’s rantings on the increasing NIMBYism at U.S. Games, well, the dude’s an idiot. He blasts San Francisco fans for singing Journey, a band that broke up decades ago, but doesn’t explain (or even realize) that the whole process started because of just the kind of unbridled fan behavior he’s championing: a fan took a song from a local band (no matter how old) and made a Giants-related song on Youtube that took off. Then the team started playing that song and others from the band as a playoff theme until, during the World Series, the entire stadium sang the song between innings. No lyrics on the scoreboard, we just sang. And it was amazing.

    We’ve also seen just what happens when unrestrained fans go too far, whether you talk about fan fights and beatings, or the WBC incident of Mexican fans throwing things at opposing players on the field after the brawl with Canada.

    Being a fan requires some respect and understanding of the people around you. That the difference between being a lone noisemaker and helping lead a large section of fans in a cheer.

    Sure, in Asia, you may see more dancing and singing, or the thundersticks, but that’s just a difference in culture in how we party and celebrate. I’d hope you don’t confuse a difference in culture with a difference in quality of being a fan.

    I do love your blog, and I think it’s important to keep up on baseball as a world sport…but don’t discount us Americans too much. We may be snarky, and yes, even negative. But we’re hardly boring.

  • esbynum

    Kevin you make some good points. I was wrong in the way I presented my arguments because I was more irritated than anything else at some other comments I had read and I let two separate issues blend into one. The issue of fans being boring and bad are two separate issues. I address the first here –


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