For better, for worse
Congratulations to the South Korean national baseball team for beating Cuba and taking the gold medal in the Olympics. Beijing was the last appearance for baseball in the Games, barring a reinstatement. Don't hold your breath -- the International Olympic Committee is dominated by Europeans with a low regard for baseball. They see baseball as a sport with little international participation.
The reality is that baseball is played in four continents, none of which is Europe. So the same decision making process that brought the Olympics to Nazi Germany, Communist Russia and Communist China now passes judgment on baseball.
The one valid reason, however, for excluding baseball from the Olympics: the best players don't participate. Look at the U.S. squad that won the bronze -- none are major league-caliber talent. Participation makes the World Baseball Classic much more compelling. The defending champion Japanese will host the 2009 WBC, starting next March 5.
Still, I can't resist the opportunity to tell the elitists in the IOC how wrong they are about baseball. Baseball leagues thrive worldwide and players from 16 nations are represented in the major leagues. Add one to the total if you count Puerto Rico as a country, like the Olympics do. It's impossible to field a fantasy squad without international players. It's even difficult to field a good fantasy team without a Dominican or two.
Let's take a look at the countries with significant presences in the major leagues and highlight a player or two from each that may be available in your league.