As we get ready to put the month of January to a close, we move closer to the first World Baseball Classic. There are mixed reactions and opinions on this new idea invented in the Selig regime. Until recently, I have not really cared to think about it. Now, as we are very near to it’s birth, I’ve decided to weigh in with my thoughts on the idea, as well as opinions on criticisms I’ve heard mentioned.
Why I like the idea of the WBC
1. It allows us to cheer for our country – It’s always fun when the Olympics come around. As a kid, I used to hate waiting four years for the next time I could cheer on my country. Who cares that we didn’t really know a lot of the competitors names, aside from what the commentators and networks told us. It was just fun watching your country take on the best of the rest and come away as the winner. This World Baseball Classic gives me the opportunity to cheer on the United States as our best players represent the country that invented the game we love. What can be better than that?
2. It allows me to see some of the world’s unknown stars – It’s always fun when rumors begin to fly about a foreign star that is about to sign a contract to come play for a team in the United States. Usually it is the Yankees, Dodgers or the Mariners that end up reaping the benefits, but it is still fun nonetheless. The problem is, because we are not able to watch baseball that goes on in Japan, and because their websites are all in Japaneese, we do not know much about the players that come, other than what we are told. What a cool way to get to see some of the best in the world, live with our own eyes. Maybe someone will stick out for me and when that player comes over, I’ll have seen him play before. The more intimate you are with a sport, the more fun it is to follow it. Hopefully the WBC will give us that opportunity.
3. It allows me to watch the greatest players in the major leagues play before opening day for something that matters. – I hate watching spring training games because of the fact that players are simply going through routines to get themselves ready for the season. The players that are considered the “locks” to make the squad are not concerned with impressing the team or the fans in the spring. They are doing what they need to do to make sure they are ready for the season. Now, with the WBC, they will be playing for the pride of their country. As a result, the hope is that they will be giving it their all and playing for pride. Obviously that doesn’t mean sliding hard to break up double plays and bowling over catchers, but certainly players will play harder than they do in spring training, and for that I am excited about watching.
Why people do not like the idea of the WBC
Some people will argue against the WBC with the following arguments. I say phooey on them, and here is why:
1. It makes the baseball season that much longer – Is it possible to watch too much baseball? For some, like Ernie Banks, no. For me, and I am sure for some of you though, there comes a point where you need baseball games to go away for a month or two so you can rest and recharge for the next season. Now with the WBC, it makes the length of meaningful baseball that much longer, right? Wrong!!! We still have our couple of months off from baseball games. Because the WBC is in March, when spring training is taking place, it doesn’t increase the length of the season at all.
2. We are running the risk of injuries to our players – This is not a strong argument against the WBC, in my opinion, but it’s one that comes to mind anyway. Sure, we do run the risk of injury to our players, but then again, so does the other teams in the league. St. Louis could easily lose Albert Pujols for the season, just like we could lose Derrek Lee. Am I worried? Sure I am. But, what I have got to believe is that injuries can happen at any time. Whether it happens while a player is playing in the WBC or in Spring Training is irrelevant. Players are at risk as soon as they put on their uniform. We can’t think about it or it will eat us alive.
3. Pitchers will be forced to work too many innings – Do you really think this is true? If I read the schedule correctly, the US could play a max of 7 games if they win the whole thing. That takes place over two weeks. So basically you have a game every other day for two weeks. That is nothing compared to the usual cumbersome schedule that a player is forced to go through during the regular season and especially the playoffs. With the teams allowed 30 players, that figures to mean that each team will carry anywhere from 12 to 16 pitchers. With that being the case, lets look at some of the numbers.
Assuming that each of the seven games goes nine innings, that means a total of 63 innings for pitchers to pitch. If you got each man equal amount of time on the mound, that accounts for a total of 3.9 innings of work for the entire WBC. That is far from pitcher overuse. Obviously starters will go longer than four innings, but even if they do, how much will going seven hurt? Starters will get one, maybe two starts at most. When you figure in what they would normally get in that span of spring training, it seems to work out to less from the WBC. Because of this, I am not worried about pitcher overuse during the event. Because we have the best of the best out there for our countries, we should also be able to put in any player and be confident that they will get the job done. With that being said, the need for overuse should be eliminated as a result.
While many people are skeptical and bitter at the idea, I think it will be a tremendous success. With the addition of Cuba to the mix, the tournament can now be billed correctly as a tournament of the best in the world. Because of this, I say “Bring on the WBC…Go USA”