I'm watching live baseball! I just flipped the remote over to something on ESPN Classic called "ESPN Classic Vintage Live: Negro League Baseball presented by Jordan Brand". It's the Bristol Barnstormers vs. the Birmingham Black Barons. I have no idea who these players are, but it's sure nice to see some live baseball, no matter who is playing. They're also doing some Negro Leagues reminiscing. As I write, it's tied 8-8 in the eighth innning.
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Seems appropriate that baseball would show up on the scene the day the Winter Olympics ended. I'm a big fan of Swedish winter sports, a leftover from my three years spent enduring the long, dark winters of Scandinavia. I've been on a bit of a high all day long, ever since the Swedish hockey team won the gold medal this morning, beating arch-rival Finland 3-2.
It's hard to underestimate how big a deal this is in Sweden. Sweden had won Olympic and World Championship hockey gold before, but never in a context where all the top NHL players participated. This victory puts this hockey team into the very top circle of all-time Swedish sports legends, alongside Ingemar Stenmark and Björn Borg. They'll be talking about Nicklas Lidström's slapshot, and Henrik Lundqvist's last-second save forever. An instant classic.
I've spent the afternoon browsing Swedish websites for reactions. My favorite was listening to the Swedish Radio highlights (be patient, it's a little slow to load), featuring all five goals, plus the frantic final minute where Lundqvist made his save. Even if you don't understand Swedish, I'll bet it's kinda fun to listen to, because the radio announcer goes absolutely bonkers. Plus, the guy speaks so fast, he's hard to understand even if you speak Swedish. But the emotions are clear.
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That's why I think I'm going to like the World Baseball Classic. Because for smaller countries like Venezuela and the Dominican Republic, the chance to compete in your national sport is something special. I'm American, and I should probably root for my own country, but I don't think if we win, it will be a big deal for us. I'm kinda hoping one of the smaller countries wins. It would mean so much more to them.
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A Birmingham player steals third, and scores on an error. Seems like an appropriate way to win a Negro League tribute game. Black Barons win, 9-8.