|True World Series is Enjoyable Baseball||| Print ||
Written by Jonathan Leshanski (Contact & Archive) on March 07, 2009
In my heart I love the idea of the World Baseball Classic.Â No, itâ€™s not perfect, because of the time of year, and the number of top players who wonâ€™t participate due to past injuries, contract clauses, or because they think it will detract from the regular season, but this is the baseball showcase for the world.
Iâ€™ve been lucky enough to see baseball played in the Caribbean, South America, Asia and Europe, but itâ€™s not a game like basketball or soccer which has won over the hearts and minds of many nations.Â In fact, outside of North America, Japan, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and maybe Venezuela, baseball is a minor sport, often a very minor sport.Â Leagues have popped up in places like the Philippines, China, Australia, Israel and parts of Europe, and for the most part they havenâ€™t thrived.
Itâ€™s gotten so bad that the International Olympic Committee dropped both baseball and softball from the summer games.Â That makes the WBC the premier event to promote baseball worldwide, and to promote the athletes whoâ€™ve made it big in a game that both America and Japan consider their own.
In many ways the WBC is like the Olympics, and offers us a chance to see a true World Series with all of the powerhouse baseball nations involved.Â National pride is on the line -- and even teams like South Africa who, essentially will field an amateur team, have a lot of pride and want to play well -- imbue the folks at home with a feeling of national accomplishment.
The thing to remember is that the World Baseball Classic is still an idea in its infancy.Â There are plenty of issues, such as when it should be played, how disruptive is it to MLB and players trying to get into shape for the season, and of course there is the whole issues of big dollars players risking injury, while not playing at the top of their game (without having gone through a full spring training), and jeopardizing their teamâ€™s hopes for a World Series in October.
In a way however, many of the objections are a crutch, allowing us to dismiss the WBC in terms of relevance when compared to the regular season.Â Thatâ€™s not something other nations participating do.Â The whole nation of Japan celebrated when they won the WBC two years ago; it was that nationâ€™s finest baseball moment.
That is great for baseball, both in terms simulating interest in the game globally and in terms of the benefits for MLB in the long term as it will stimulate more playing of the game allowing more scouting, player development, and maybe even one day some non-North American expansion -- especially if a team like Australia, South Africa or Italy manages to pull off an upset or two.
This in reality is the Olympics of baseball, the true World Series, and while it might be hard to see Red Sox and Yankees playing together, or Cardinals and Cubs, or Mets and Phillies, and...well, you get the idea. This is great for the sport.Â An exhibition series which far outstrips the All-Star game in terms of national pride, meaning and publicity.
No, this is great baseball and great for baseball.Â What we all need to do is to sit back, try to enjoy it and root for the home team, no matter what major league franchises are represented on the field.
What are your feelings on the WBC? Let us hear your opinion below.