Baseball is a great uniter  

March, 20, 2006
SAN DIEGO -- There was one 12-year-old fan from Bakersfield, Calif., with a Korean flag tattoo on his face, three other fans from New York and Kansas City and Boston with Japanese flags, two others from Chicago and Seattle with Cuban flags, and five others from all around the country with Dominican flags on their faces like the mark of Damien.

No one could have predicted the World Baseball Classic would have worked this well. What's made it so great is that it has been a celebration of so many baseball cultures. I realize now that one of the people who impacted me most is Bobby Valentine, a man who cares for baseball more than I, because he taught me to respect all those other baseball cultures and how we can learn from each one -- from the way the Korean infielders gather and throw on ground balls to the Cuban fire to Japanese wa to Dominican soul.

And not once last season did the Padres draw as many fans in consecutive games as the Dominican-Cuba and Japan-Korea games drew Saturday.