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Baseball Hits the Road for the World Baseball Classic


HOST: Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.


I'm Doug Johnson. On our show this week:

We play songs for Saint Patrick’s Day …

Answer a question about a famous Supreme Court decision …

And report about a new international baseball competition.

World Baseball Classic

Many of the best baseball players in the world are competing for their home countries this month in a new international baseball tournament. The games are being played in Japan, Puerto Rico and the United States. Faith Lapidus tells us more.

FAITH LAPIDUS: It is called The World Baseball Classic. It will be held again in two thousand nine, then every four years. It is the first series of international baseball games to include professional major league players from the United States and Canada. It is being played before the North American professional baseball season opens in April so the players can take part. Experts say the tournament is an attempt by North American professional baseball to increase the popularity of the sport around the world.

Players are competing for their home countries and territories. Sixteen countries and territories are taking part in the competition. They are Australia, Canada, China, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Italy, Japan, Mexico. Also the Netherlands, Panama, Puerto Rico, South Africa, South Korea, Taiwan, the United States and Venezuela.

American sports writers say the games so far have been fun. The fans are excited to see competition between their favorite players and others who are not so famous. Some of the players are former professionals. Others have other jobs and just enjoy playing good baseball. And some players from the same professional team are playing against each other. For example, New York Yankees player Derek Jeter is on the United States team. His teammate Bernie Williams is playing for Puerto Rico.

This is how the games are being played: The sixteen teams were divided into four groups of four teams each. Each team played the other three teams in the group. The top two teams from that competition then moved into the second series of games. In these games, the top teams of each group compete against each other. Then the group champions play each other in the semifinals. The winners of those games will face each other to decide the World Baseball Classic champion.

The semifinals and championship games will take place Saturday and Monday in San Diego, California.

Roe v. Wade

Our VOA listener question this week comes from Kurdistan in Iraq. Azad Kirkuki asks about Roe versus Wade.

Roe versus Wade is the name of the Supreme Court decision that made it legal in the United States for a woman to have a medical operation to end a pregnancy. Such an operation is called an abortion. The Court said the United States Constitution protects a woman’s right to have an abortion during the first three months of pregnancy.

The Supreme Court made that ruling in nineteen seventy-three. The Court based its decision on a citizen’s constitutional right to privacy. It said a woman has the right to make a private decision about having a baby. But it said states could restrict some abortions in the late months of pregnancy.

Opponents of abortion were angry about the decision. They organized a movement against abortion. They call their position “pro-life”. They believe every fetus has a right to live and must be protected.

The movement campaigned successfully to elect pro-life politicians to state and national offices. It also was able to get Congress to approve laws affecting some abortion activities. For example, one law says the federal government will not pay for abortions for poor women.

The Supreme Court has permitted states to make it more difficult for women to get abortions. Women in some states must wait twenty-four hours before a doctor in a medical center will perform the operation. Or a young woman may need to get permission from her parents before she can have an abortion.

Earlier this month, lawmakers in South Dakota approved a law banning most abortions in the state. The law makes it a crime for a doctor to perform the operation unless it is needed to save a woman’s life. The governor of South Dakota said the purpose of the law is to create a situation that would force the Supreme Court to re-consider the Roe versus Wade decision.

Abortion rights supporters call their position “pro-choice.” They say women should have the right to control their own bodies, including choosing to end an unplanned pregnancy. They say the new South Dakota law is dangerous, unconstitutional and not what a majority of Americans would support. Abortion rights groups say they will use all legal efforts to stop the law from taking effect in July.

Saint Patrick’s Day Music

HOST: March seventeenth is Saint Patrick’s Day -- the day Irish people honor the man who brought the Roman Catholic religion to their country. It is a religious holiday in Ireland. It is not an official holiday in the United States, but a lot of Americans celebrate it anyway. Steve Ember explains.

STEVE EMBER: You know it is Saint Patrick’s Day in the United States because you see more than the usual amount of the traditional Irish color, green. People wear green clothes. Some people color their hair or their faces green. The city of Chicago, Illinois even colors its river green. People across the country celebrate by drinking green beer and singing Irish songs, like this one, “The Unicorn.”


The first Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations in the United States took place in Boston, Massachusetts more than two hundred fifty years ago. People whose families had come to the United States from Ireland took part in those celebrations.

An old story says that New York City started the tradition of holding Saint Patrick’s Day parades. Twelve Irish-born members of the New York State military force decided to march to breakfast on Saint Patrick’s Day in seventeen sixty-two. Such parades spread throughout the country as more Irish people came to live in the United States.

Today, New York City’s Saint Patrick’s Day parade is the biggest in the country. Thousands of people march along Fifth Avenue. Hundreds of thousands of other people gather along the street. They watch and listen as marching bands play traditional Irish music. Here the Gallowglass Ceili Band plays “The Plough and the Stars”.


Many Americans join in the celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day. They like to say that everyone is a little bit Irish on that day.

HOST: I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today.

Our show was written by Nancy Steinbach. Caty Weaver was our producer.

Send your questions about American life to Please include your full name and mailing address. Or write to American Mosaic, VOA Special English, Washington, D.C., two-zero-two-three-seven, U.S.A.

Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.