My friend T.J. insists the World Baseball Classic is not worth the trouble. He says he'll be disgusted if Cubs players Ted Lilly and Geovanny Soto get hurt in the international tournament and that the team paying the bills deserves the ultimate loyalty.
Did anyone at Manchester United tell David Beckham it would be a bad idea if he played for England in soccer's World Cup? I suspect it would be a national disaster if he chose to sit out the tournament because his employer didn't like the idea.
When Canada won the Olympic hockey gold medal in 2002, was that not a symbol of national pride? Our northern neighbors define their sporting selves by excellence in hockey and won the Olympics for the first time in 50 years. Consider this from Wikipedia:
"In Canada, the CBC said that 10.6 million watched the game. Veteran CBC Sports commentator Bob Cole called in the dying seconds of the game: 'Now, after 50 years, it's time for Canada to stand up and cheer! STAND UP AND CHEER EVERYBODY! THE OLYMPICS SALT LAKE CITY 2002 MEN'S ICE HOCKEY GOLD MEDAL: CANADA!'"
The game was among the most-watched sports shows in CBC history. You think Canadians only care about NHL success? They care about international hockey, too.
It is OK to play for national pride, T.J. It should be encouraged.