By Arturo R. García and Kendra James
World Baseball Classic: I was one of the five people in world outraged when baseball and softball were announced in 2005 to be ousted from the Summer Olympic Games for a variety of reasons. (One being that baseball didn’t have a large enough following outside of the United States; I can’t roll my eyes enough at that.) So, when the World Baseball Classic came around I was thrilled. Though, given all the attention America pays to the WBC, I’m probably the only one.
America hasn’t fared well in the WBC in the past; the best we’ve done is finish in 4th place over the 2 tournaments that’ve been played, with Japan winning both of them. South Korea and Cuba both have 2nd-place finishes. If you’re not heading down to Phoenix to catch the USA games live, you have to have one of the many ESPN channels or MLBTV to watch the games. You won’t find them on regular cable, and certainly not on network television, and that’s honestly a shame.
Major League Baseball’s annual All-Star Game proves we’ll watch a game pairing players of different teams and pray for cohesion, so why can’t we muster that same interest in the WBC? An actual World Series. The tournament showcases the best in baseball and, if we paid it more attention, would force us to acknowledge that the best of baseball extends beyond the USA-centric MLB structure. When Carlos Marmol shows up pitching for the Dominican Republic, Geovany Soto is catching for Puerto Rico, and Kosuke Fukudome is batting for Japan, US baseball fans are reminded that baseball is indeed an international pastime that wouldn’t be nearly as entertaining in the US as it is if it weren’t for the contributions of hundreds of immigrants and non-citizens of color. There’s no concrete proof (I learned my lessons on directly questioning white sports fans about their fandom after spending four years living in Cleveland Indians territory, and I value my life), but I suspect that this blatant reminder of the dispersion of talent is one of the reasons the WBC isn’t more popular with US baseball fans. But just because America can’t put its best foot forward doesn’t mean baseball fans should turn up their noses.
Games at the 55,000 capacity Tokyo Dome sold out during the 2009 Classic, while six games in the US barely managed to attract 92,000 fans in total. With the strength of the South Korean, Japanese, and Cuban teams, it’s unlikely the US National Team is going to prevail…especially with this year’s lackluster roster. But if we were real baseball fans we’d be watching anyway when Round One begins on March 2nd. This is our Olympics, and those Spring Training games don’t count for nothin,’ anyway.–KJ
Is Soledad O’Brien In Trouble?: Soledad O’Brien has caught a lot of flak around here for both the Black In America and Latino In America news specials, but her work hosting CNN’s Starting Point has been more than solid. Which, even if you take it with a grain of salt, makes it problematic to hear that her job could be in jeopardy for, among other things, not attracting enough of a white audience.
[VP Bart Feder’s] issue with “Starting Point” was that the audience was too small and happened to be predominately comprised of minorities. A source close to the show insists that the ethnicity of the audience was never the issue–it was the size. Feder in no way meant to imply that the audience was too ethnic.
So white people aren’t watching her show, and it’s supposed to be O’Brien’s fault? Sounds from here like the problem lies with who CNN is trying to reach.
But there’s already one ominous sign: new network head Jeff Zucker’s very first move was to announce plans to install ABC News’ Chris Cuomo in O’Brien’s timeslot. Because we needed another white talking head in the AM, amirite?
A network spokesperson didn’t quite deny to The Daily Beast that she was in trouble, either, saying, “Soledad is very important to the network and we are discussing various options with her.” I’m sure they are.–AG
Olympus Has Fallen: Every generation of Americans has to be scared of someone. We seem to be moving away from the phantom terrorist and back into familiar territory of Yellow Peril. Angry Asian Man posted this collection of racist tweets from Red Dawn viewers, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see similar reactions from those same folks and more after Olympus Has Fallen debuts.
To be fair, this film seems to have more going for it than the mere presence of Chris Hemsworth’s biceps, but it’s still playing on the same “evil Asian” fears reintroduced in Red Dawn. (The pitch for Olympus boils down to dear God, they’re in the White House!) Entertaining or not, this can’t be a positive trend.–KJ
Warner Brothers CEO becomes first Asian-American studio leader: Speaking of Angry Asian Man, he noted the promotion of Kevin Tsujihara from leading Warner Brothers’ home video, digital, and video games division to company CEO, making him the first Asian American to head a major studio.
Though the move was seen as a surprise, AAM correctly pinpoints Tsujihara’s digital expertise as his biggest contribution in the position:
“Welcome to the future,” he writes. “Tsujihara will be responsible for steering the company in a rapidly changing media landscape where viewers are ditching traditional means of consuming movies and television increasingly watching digital content pretty much anytime and anywhere on any device they want.”–AG
Oh, is there also a football game happening on Sunday?–KJ