The Samurai, as Team Japan is known at home, started this wild, worldwide ride almost three weeks ago, and sure enough they finished it, throwing the first and last pitches of the second edition of the World Baseball Classic.
Japan's Daisuke Matsuzaka was named the MVP of the World Baseball Classic, and he was joined by teammates Hisashi Iwakuma and Norichika Aoki on the All-Tournament Team. That trio helped lead Japan to a second straight Classic title with its 5-3 victory over Korea on Monday.
Baseball has long been America's pastime, but if the last two World Baseball Classics are any indication, it's becoming a game dominated by the Far East. Japan has proved to be king by winning both tournaments, capped by its epic, 5-3 win in 10 innings over Korea on Monday.
The Koreans would have preferred the gold medal in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, but the silver version of the tournament's hardware will suffice for now. Being known as the second-best baseball country in the world, behind only two-time tournament champion Japan, is still quite an accomplishment. That's how Team Korea views its finish.
After he retires from Major League Baseball, Japanese outfielder Ichiro Suzuki might very well be headed to the Hall of Fame. But for now, the right fielder is contributing to Cooperstown's collection by donating his bat from the first round of this year's World Baseball Classic.
As he unpacked a large Team USA duffel bag on Tuesday, Jake Peavy spoke of his experience in the World Baseball Classic and said losing in the semifinals to Japan didn't take anything away from his involvement in the event.