About Those Dutch Baseball Fans
I went to one baseball game at the Olympics. It was the U.S. vs. the Netherlands, and the U.S. won in controversial fashion after massive amounts of rain and sitting around. Currrent Nat prospect Shairon Martis took the loss. Future Nat prospect Stephen Strasburg earned the win. Here's what I wrote:
By the top of bottom of the eighth, the rain had returned. By the top of the ninth, it was pouring. And with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, rain splashing everywhere and the Dutch down 7-0, the umpires pulled the players off the field, to loud boos, or as loud as a few dozen people could manage. Most of the remaining fans then left. Not counting Wukesong Baseball Field volunteers and national officials, there were perhaps 50 of us in the stands.
Wow, I really don't miss being in Beijing. I started twitching just reading that. Anyhow, there were three basic groups of people in the stands that day, not counting me and various officials: the parents and relatives of U.S. players, some random U.S. citizens who had stumbled upon the baseball field, and a few groups of hardcore Dutch baseball fans who were trying to decide between sticking it out in the rain or going to drink. Eventually, many of them left to drink, but before then, I had one of the typical Olympic conversations that makes you wonder why everyone in the world doesn't just move to Amsterdam.
I can't say I've thought much about Dutch baseball since then, until this week, when the team became an international sensation, getting warm kisses from the New York Times, Yahoo! Sports, ESPN.com, Thomas Boswell and basically every other baseball writer in the world. And lo and behold, what should pop into my inbox but a message from Joris van Wijk, one of the Dutch fans I sat with in the rain in Beijing.
"We spoke briefly during the rained out Beijing Olympics baseball game, USA vs. Netherlands," he wrote me. "That game ended with a win for the USA after the game was ended due to rain, with bases loaded with Dutch players and 0 outs. I still think a miracle was possible that day. And to prove we're in the miracle business, check out the double win against the Dominican Republic in the WBC."
Can't argue with that logic. Some Olympic umpire must be feeling mighty guilty this week. Anyhow, I asked Joris to sum up the mood for baseball in his country after this week's Dutch treat, an awful pun that's been used in 50 percent of the recaps. Here's his response.
From Joris van Wijk...
I did my best to get some feedback about the Double Dutch victory over the Dominican Republic, but the painful truth is that it was hardly registered. Man, it is a humbling experience being a baseball fan in the Netherlands, let alone a baseball player.
None of the Dutch news organizations had someone in San Juan, so they were dependent on news agencies and ESPN footage. The games weren't televised live, only the very few who have ESPN could watch them. The morning after, the sports shows opened with the story but moved quickly to that evening's upcoming Champions League soccer games. You'd expect the evening TV news to at least have an item about it, but alas, it wasn't the case - a cookie museum being opened did make the cut.
I don't think the Dutch news agencies, and with them the people, really understand how big an upset this was. Everyone is always ready to embrace a success by any national team in any sport, but the way it came across here is "Netherlands proceed to second round of WBC." If you don't know the game well, don't know who Big Papi, Jose Reyes or Bert Blyleven are, you won't understand that the double win against the D.R. was the equivalent of hell freezing over.
The baseball fans we have in The Netherlands are overjoyed: the players aren't just living their own dream, they gave a new dream to all the young baseball players in this tiny country. And with the team moving on to Miami, things will change: camera crews, reporters and anchors are being dispatched; they're going to get more attention from the national press than they've ever had.
Dutch Baseball fans now live between hope and fear: the sport is finally getting the attention of the media, a lot of people here will be watching the next game, but if we lose - and the odds remain very much stacked against a Dutch win - people will lose interest again and it's back to square one.
We don't dare hope for another miracle, but we'll be glued to our TV sets this Saturday watching our rag tag team taking another shot at glory. Most of them really are in the trenches of the game and suddenly seeing them compete on Mount Olympus...it's heroic stuff.
Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 12, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: sitruc | March 12, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 12, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: petey5 | March 12, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: greggwiggins | March 12, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: dimesmakedollars | March 12, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Josh8 | March 12, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: WaPoGuy | March 12, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 15, 2009 11:15 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.