I'm in-between on my weekly posts, and this doesn't properly fit with either.
The World Baseball Classic catches quite a bit of grief stateside. We want to watch our players, play for our team, and for many Cubs fans, that's it. I really don't begrudge that attitude, as I've been there before. But to explain where I am now, I have to switch gears a bit, and talk about a sport many Americans detest.
I am by no stretch a futbol (or soccer, if you insist) fan. It's a great game, particularly for kids. It teaches teamwork, patience, hand-eye skills, and is the most popular sport in the world. However, by the time a game is important enough to be televised, the stakes are often so high that the game loses much of its joy. The one team I will usually watch, given a chance, is Brazil. Known for their lineage of goal scorers, ball handlers, and quick ball movement, they can be really fun to watch. Until they run into a team that deliberately sloooooooooooooowwwwwsss the gaaaaaaaaaaammmmmme dooooooooooowwwwn. Then, I'll flip on anything else, as deliberate soccer is why I'm not a fan.
In the preliminary round of the current WBC, I was very impressed with Brazil's baseball team. They advanced to the Round Of 16 by stunning host Panama twice by a run each time. This, with no players I had ever heard of. While those of us impressed by their skill in that round, we knew a stiffer challenge awaited. Japan.
It's been nice seeing you Brazil, but you have no chance against the two-time defending WBC Champs.
Brazil never got the memo.
The underdogs led their first-round match against Japan by a run. In the eighth inning. They lost 5-3. Combining the well-known Brazilian atleticism with Japanese fundamentals (Brazil has a large Japanese population), they are a fun team to watch. And I still have no idea who these guys are.
What this has to do with the Cubs is rather simple. I hope, with the new-found interest in scouting and development, there is a bit of a discussion about putting some sort of an Academy in Brazil. The effort put in by Barry Larkin's squad (the ex-Cincinnati Reds HOFer is Brazil's manager) leads me to believe the area is a reasonably untapped source for international talent. Or, to use the term, heavily scouting Brazil may be a market inefficiency.
There is no minor league presence in Brazil, as there is in the Dominican Republic or Venezuela. I have no idea how much it would cost to buy enough land to have some diamonds, classrooms, and weight training or nutritional facilities. I'm sure this is something the Ricketts family has already discussed with the front office decision-makers. That said, I haven't seen any articles seriously promoting a legitimate reach into Brazil.
At least, I hadn't, until I re-read this.
I'm very confident that there are some very talented futbol players, be they strikers, keepers, halfbacks, or whichever, that can probably hit a baseball well enough to get paid to do so in the states. If Brazil advances to the Round Of Eight, even more of these kids might try the game where you can actually throw the ball toward a batter. Or try to hit it back beyond the pitcher. Of course, Brazil can't advance, because we still don't understand how Leonardo Reginatto has his R sound like an H, as in Hedge-a-not-to. Except, I won't count them out.
Even after they get eliminated.