Apologies if I seem baseball-distant this week, but I’ve got a terrible illness. I’ve caught World Cup fever and it’s affecting my bones, my blood, my brain, and my heart. And sure, while it’s given me a physically need to have strong opinions about things like Panama’s center back pairings or the tactical acumen of France manager Didier Deschamps, it’s also a disease I welcome with all my heart.
Because the competition is amazing. Sure, in part because sports are fun and seeing these amazingly high stakes from 8 am until 4 pm every day is great, but that’s such a small part. It’s really because of the glory of international competition – whether it’s the World Cup, the World Baseball Classic, the Olympics, or even 12 dudes stuck in the international terminal of LAX at 4 am.
Here’s a time when we can put aside our differences, our politics, the terrible things done in the name of things we believe or not believe in. When you cheer for your team, you cheer for the people of your country, for the physical beauty of the land, for that one amazing dish that your parents made for you growing up. And while you scream and chant and needle the opposition’s fans for 90 minutes, when it’s over, you go and grab a beer and some food together.
And even if the USMNT aren’t there, there are 32 other countries on display because of a silly ball getting kicked and chased around. And that’s fun. And I can’t help loving every damn minute of this tournament.
Anyway, if you’re wondering what the deal is with that long preamble, well, it’s because I wrote a lot of baseball World Cup content.
Here’s the MLB Starting XI. If you’re wondering why Aaron Judge is up top it’s because I’m a dumb man that loves target men in the box. At least, that’s what the internet thinks (though I definitely am).
And if you’re still looking for a team, why not use my bonafide, trusted rooting guide based on your baseball team of choice?
Here’s a few other things I wrote this week that may be of interest:
Juan Soto traveled back in time* to hit a home run before he actually debuted in the Majors. Here are five other players including Barry Bonds that also did it.
Bryce Harper shaved his beard. Oh, the horror. So, I looked at his many and varied haircuts that we can ogle (and rank) while we let that sink in.
Corey Kluber walked a batter on Friday. That was his first in over 170 batters. I looked at just how he had avoided doing that. Plus, I blow the lid off the fact that Babe Ruth NEVER EVEN EXISTED, MAN.