Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Let's end this fraud of an event.

My good friend Jake posted a good blog piece that we should be more excited about the WBC. He also wants the US to build better teams in order to perhaps win this "event". I mean this is America's Pastime, we should be winning, shouldn't we?

I even have a better idea how to improve the US in this very prestigious "event": let's end it.

I know that some countries, like Japan, Korea and Cuba, seem to actually care about this "event" and want to prove themselves as the best baseball country. Based on the crowd from last night's championship game that I accidentally changed into it thinking that at 12:30 AM, ESPN should have SportsCenter on. I'll give the event credit for having a competitive game with a good crowd that actually seemed interested on the result of the game. Much better than the 13,000 in Miami who saw David Wright's walk-off hit.

Our country will never become interested in watching the WBC. Baseball is a much harder sport to get excited for in an international play situation, unlike basketball, hockey and soccer. Part of the reason is that it took way too long to have international play in baseball, so we're not used to it. Regardless, no one is going to put an American win in the WBC in the same sentence as your favorite team winning a division championship, much less the World Series. Most Americans still put the 1980 Olympic Team in Lake Placid as their favorite hockey memory. If they ever turn on a soccer match, it's during the World Cup and we still leave our expectations enormously high in basketball because the best NBA players are from the US.

Baseball, unfortunately doesn't have that benefit, as this is a more diverse sport ethnically than any, except hockey and soccer. While basketball is more widely played around the world and more popular, that doesn't show in terms of the best NBA players. Dirk Nowitzki and Pau Gasol wouldn't be confused as being among the absolute best players in the NBA, they are behind Kobe, Lebron, Wade, CP3 and D-Ho. MLB, on the other hand, can boast that Johan Santana, a Venezuelan, is the best pitcher in the sport, while Albert Pujols, a Dominican, arguably is the best hitter, plus Cuba and Japan still have most of their best players. We don't have a monopoly on the talent, thus we shouldn't be expected to win an international event just because it's our game. Of course, just because we might not win, that itself isn't reason enough not to have this "event."

Here's a list of reasons that the WBC should be eliminated:

1. You know the event is bogus if David Wright comes through in the clutch.

2. There isn't a good time to have it. You have to have the players and pitchers come into the "event" after a full offseason and play "meaningful" games in March. The chance for injury is too great. Ask Red Sox fans how they felt when Pedroia and Youkilus got hurt. How about Mets fans when K-Rod had 4-out saves and Wright got hit in the head and lost his toenail. Or the mosh pit when Wright won the game which Jeter, Youkilus and J-Roll were promenantly involved. I know what you're thinking, how about we do this in the fall. Well then the major leaguers have played a full year and the quality of play is down, which it is now anyway.

3. The "event" can never be the most important thing going on, its overshadowed by March Madness now and would be by the NFL and college football after the World Series.

4. We AREN'T growing the game with this event. We many think we are because of countries like Australia and Italy, but this is still mostly played with countries that care about baseball. Countries like Britain and France will never play baseball, they just don't care.

5. Players can choose their teams. How do you explain Mike Piazza playing and coaching for Italy. Or A-Rod playing for the US in 06 and almost for the Dominican Republic this year. How do you play for national pride if you decide to change your country if you happen to have a grandmother from somewhere else. Under those rules, I could play for Ireland or Scotland if I wanted.

6. How can you go all out if there are pitch limits. If this is to be such an important "event", then you should go all out and not be forced to remove a pitcher.

These reasons all show what a collosal waste of time the WBC is. The real season starts April 6th; most major leaguers aren't ready to play competitive baseball in March. That's what spring training is for, so they can prepare for the season slowly. Nothing should take away from that and the risk of injury, especially for the pitchers is to great for a pure money grab that's flawed to begin with.

End this now!


  1. Do you know what extremely popular sporting event was once considered a waste of time? The NCAA tournament. Yes the event that dominates the month of March once played second fiddle to the NIT. How did that change? Well it was most importantly given a chance, then it wa able to attract some of college basketball's powerhouses, such as UCLA.

    The World Baseball Classic deserves that same chance. Why? Because it truly has caught on around the world. But although there are plenty of stars representing their countries (Ichiro-Japan, Magglio Ordonez-Venezuela, Justin Morneau-Canada, Geo Soto-Puerto Rico, David Ortiz-Dominican Republic) the WBC does not stand a chance without a competitive Team USA.

    But to be crystal clear, I never said Team USA has to win the WBC to make it relevant, but instead that USA needs a program in place to field an actual team that really competes.

    A successful WBC is just good for the game. It is good for the game just as the Olympics are for basketball and hockey and the World Cup is for soccer. That is why David Stern has his best players represent their countries during the Olympics, where the risk of injury and wearing down is just the same (think Manu Ginobli and Yao Ming). It is also why the NHL actually puts its season on hold in order for their players to participate, but hockey players never tire or injure-because they're hockey players, right? And also why those european soccer club owners put their $100,000,000+ stars on loan for their respective countries. But they're such superior athletes that their legs never tire and they're bodies never break down, right?

    Stop making excuses for the American Major Leaguers, their job is to play baseball so if they're asked to do so for an extra month they ought to. Most people work year round, why shouldn't they?

  2. Jake, always remember what is more important, these players have a responsibility to their teams, not to this WBC. Jeter gets paid by the Yankees, K-Rod-Mets, Pedroia-Red Sox. I would be more upset if one of my favorite players got hurt in this tournament than if the US wins. I also feel the same as a basketball and hockey fan. It was great that Henrik Lundqvist won the gold for Sweden in 2006, but after coming back, he struggled due to added fatigue and ended up getting hurt. Let's not lose sight on what's really important as a baseball fan, the World Series. Especially when it comes to pitching, regular pitchers should be banned.

    BTW, NCAA Tournament at that time was no different than when college football decides champions. NIT was more important because it was in NY when being in NY was all important. Also, college basketball didn't become a major sport until 1st, UCLA's run, then the Magic-Bird title game.

  3. The game is what is most important. The World Series, Stanley Cup or Finals would not mean a thing if the game was front and center. The only reason why those titles are esteemed is because our leagues pay the most money. Players are not loyal to the cities they play for, they chase the money. So when something like the Olympics or the WBC comes along, it is perhaps our only chance to see professional athletes seeking a title with their true love of the game being the main motivation.

    The World Series, Stanley Cup and Finals are great but let's not forget what came and should always come first (especially as fans), and that is the game.

  4. Remember, kids who play baseball grow up thinking they can hit a HR to win the World Series, play hockey thinking they will lift the Stanley Cup, play basketball thinking I'm gonna hit the winning shot to win the Finals. Do people credit Patrick Ewing for winning two gold medals? No, they harp on the fact that he didn't win a ring, same as Barkley, Malone, Stockton. Ray Bourque won Canada Cups back when the NHLers didn't play in the Olympics but his run to the Stanley Cup was more important. Maybe the game is more important, but these championships are in the fabric of each sport. These world events are like spilling wine on the sport and if they keep playing them, it means the stain set.