Ryan L. Fox
The World Baseball Classic, a tournament where baseball players from all over the world compete to see which country can field the best baseball team. Started back in 2006 to replace Olympic baseball during the summer games, it is baseball’s equivalent to the FIFA World Cup. It takes place every 4 years for the entire month of March during MLB Spring Training.
While some may actually appreciate and enjoy this baseball classic, all that glitters is not gold.
No Real Impact
Like the NFL Pro Bowl, and the NBA, NHL, and MLB All-Star games, the WBC has no impact whatsoever to the league. It is merely an over glorified exhibition game with no real purpose other than try to fan national pride and help baseball reach a broader audience. You're better off watching an MLB Spring Training game. At least that some relevancy to your team's success in the upcoming MLB season.
No ‘World’ Aspect
The irony of this is the name of the tournament itself. There’s really no ‘World’ aspect. It’s pretty much which countries is baseball more heavily followed (i.e. South Korea, Japan, Dominican Republic, United States, Venezuela). It’s a 16-team tournament and at least three-fourths of those teams are those same specific countries over and over and over again. Occasionally you might get a country or two where baseball isn’t the dominant sport (i.e. Israel in current 2017 WBC) but they are far and few in between.
No Access To Viewing
Even if the WBC was trying to grow their viewership, there’s almost no accessibility into watching the games on television. The only chance of really watching the games is on the MLB Network (if you have that channel) and even then, it’s not a guarantee that a replay of the game would be on. Not to mention that due to time zone differences, the games are ‘aired’ at midnight or early morning. So even if you had your heart set on watching the games, you will be too tired and exhausted to stay up and watch all of it.
Interference with the MLB Spring Training
Perhaps the most damning thing about the WBC is the fact that it happens at the worst opportune time: spring training. During spring training, teams are focused on accomplishing set goals on such as:
- Helping free agents/players coming over from trades get acclimated to their new ball clubs
- Scouting their young talent to see if they will be able to play at the major league level or need more time in minor league to develop their playing ability
- Get players acclimated to game speed after nearly 6 months of no live-action baseball games
However during the years of the WBC, some players will forgo spring training and participate in the tournament itself. This exponentially increases their workload at a time where they need to take things at a slower pace (i.e. a pitcher who goes from just pitching 1 inning in a spring training game to 7 innings in the WBC), thus increasing the risk of injury as well as increased levels of fatigue, which will affect them during the actual MLB season
Significant Increase to Injury/Fatigue During MLB Regular Season
As previously mentioned, players who participate in the WBC significantly increase their risk to injury or fatigue due to the extra physical work they put their bodies through. Notable examples of this include the following:
2006: After San Diego Padres SP Jake Peavy participated in the WBC for Team USA, he posted a 4-8 record with an ERA of 4.46 in the first half of the season before finishing the year 11-14 record with an ERA of 4.09. This was after two consecutive seasons of 10+ wins and an ERAs of 2.27 (2004) & 2.88 (2005)
2009: After posting an 18-3, 2.90 ERA in 2008, Red Sox SP Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched the entire WBC for Team Japan and won the MVP. That same season in MLB, he spent 2 stints on the disabled list with arm fatigue and shoulder soreness and didn’t obtain a 10-game winning season afterwards for his entire MLB career.
2013: While playing for the Dominican Republic Team, Los Angeles Dodgers SS Hanley Ramirez injured his right hand while diving for a ball in the championship game. It was later reveal he tore a ligament in his thumb that required surgery and made him miss the nearly the entire month of April that season.
Now as the 2017 WBC is going on, there are people who will try to hype it up as something of importance. But by the end of the day, it is nothing more than just a series of exhibition games that dilutes the actual product of the MLB season.
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