Kevin Youkilis, a member of the United States squad in the World Baseball Classic, says he has been disappointed to feel like a visiting team in all three of the Americans' games so far this year.
Playing in Toronto, where Red Sox fans sometimes outnumber Blue Jays fans for major-league games, the American team was shouted down first by Canadian fans and then by fans of Team Venezuela in its second and third games. The U.S. team plays Saturday night in Miami against Puerto Rico.
"Hopefully we get a crowd that roots for us in the United States," Youkilis said, according to The Boston Herald. "It's going to be tough. I think our fans need to step it up. The people of the United States need to step it up and cheer us on."
He added: "If we're outnumbered in Miami, it's going to be tough to deal with. We're going to be in the U.S. We need a good fan base to cheer us on and help us win. It's going to be our home field. We should have home field advantage, hopefully. Hopefully."
I'm afraid it's just not going to happen. Not how Youkilis wants.
Why? Because US versus THEM is just not how we -- that is, U.S. baseball fans -- are programmed to think about the game. We spend year after year rooting for Ichiro and Big Papi and Johan and all the rest, and suddenly we're suppose to root against them for a couple of weeks?
See, it's not really our game. Or if it is, it's just as much theirs as ours. Instead of rooting against the Japanese and the Venezuelans and the Dominicans, we're just thrilled to have them playing -- or rather, elevating our game. Friends (and Youk), this isn't track-and-field or swimming or any of those other sports that nobody cares about for three years and 50 weeks out of four years. It's baseball, and we're lucky enough to see the best baseball players in the world for seven months every year. So please, pardon us for not getting too worked up in March.