|Point-Counterpoint: WBC loss an embarrassement to US?||| Print |||Send|
Written by At Home Plate Staff (Contact & Archive) on March 25, 2009
After team USA's fell 4-9 to Japan in the World Baseball Classic's semifinals, many words have been written about manager Davey Johnson's mistakes and Derek Jeter's defense, but do American baseball fans really care about the tournament and the loss or is the WBC just spring training with an international flair to them? At Home Plate's Adam Adkins and Jonathan Leshanski weight in.
WBC just an Exhibition
I find it insulting that some can suggest that Team USA is weak or, dare I say, pathetic because most of them only showed up and didn't spend their entire 2008 and up to preparing for this exhibition. It's fine that Team Japan cares a lot, it's heartwarming that Korea is emotionally invested, but I honestly, without remorse, could not care less that Japan won and the US didn't. I do not care about the WBC, because, as I've stated twice now, it's an exhibition.
I liken it to caring deeply about spring training games. Does it matter if Roy Oswalt gets lit up or the manager makes a bad call? No. It's an exhibition. No one cares. Just because the WBC is a 'Worldwide tournament', even though somehow Puerto Rico is not in the US, that somehow makes it different? No. No. No.
It's an exhibition. I watched some of the games and I enjoyed it, but that's just because I enjoy baseball. The fact that it is the WBC, or the regular season, All-Star Game, Playoffs, Fall Classic, College World Series, wiffle ball game in the backyard... none of that matters. I just want the game.
I couldn't care less that the WBC exists.
So, the US should not be embarrassed, not at all. Would you expect Oswalt to be downtrodden after a Spring Training loss? No. The WBC, for all it is worth, is just an exhibition. And, by extension, barring injury, the end result is damn near worthless.
Early Loss an Embarrassment to US
By Jonathan Leshanski
Both the United States and Japan lay claim that baseball is the game of their nation. One of us is right, and so far it’s certainly looking like it’s Japan. Once again the US team at the World Baseball Classic failed to impress us with its ability to win key games.
And the truth is it’s not the players fault. No, because of scheduling American pitchers are nowhere close to the top of their game, players haven’t had the right amount of conditioning or even a month to get their timing at the plate. No, the humiliating thing about the performance of team USA lies with managing and the administration of this tournament.
You see when the WBC was being conceived by Selig and Co, they saw it as a chance to really promote the game worldwide. They saw it as a marketing gimmick which could increase the popularity of baseball and lead to greater promotion of Major League Baseball.
Well, it certainly has increased the popularity of the game, but it has backfired mightily. Instead of promoting MLB as the best baseball league in the world, or the US as the best baseball nation, it’s done nothing but highlight how good the Japanese leagues are, and how Japan is the dominant baseball nation in the world right now.
Or so it appears to anyone who doesn’t understand just how the US team is hamstrung by the shortsightedness of the event planners.
While every other nation in the tournament sees this as the true “World Series” and plays all-out to win, the US treats this as an exhibition series which is an adjunct to Spring Training. Instead of fielding a team of in shape, ready to give us their best players, we get athletes who are coming off a five month hiatus, who need to sharpen up their stills for the upcoming season. No other nation in the tournament comes to play with less preparation, less practice, or more on the line.
Winning for the USA comes a distant third, after catering to the wishes of the players’ individual teams (who can ask them not to, or bar them from playing), and making sure that the players involved get enough work in to be ready when “REAL” baseball starts two weeks from now.
Thus while every other nation is playing their hearts out and playing for a “World Series” title, Team USA is busy making sure that starters get their innings, even when they are getting shelled, and that everyone on the bench gets to play in the tournament. That might be fine in little league, but if that’s how it’s going to be played in the WBC, do us a favor and don’t call them Team USA.
It’s embarrassing for the nation, and it’s embarrassing for the sport. The Major Leagues are being made to look like a second rate organization by the same folks who run the Classic and are trying to promote their product.
What are your thoughts on the U.S.’s early elimination? Let us hear your comments below.