Proud To Be an American? World Baseball Classic Could Help Heal MLB's Image

Marco RomanellCorrespondent IJanuary 22, 2009

American Baseball players should not spurn playing for their country in the WBC.

Baseball is referred to as “the American Pastime”; however, that is no longer the case. Baseball is losing popularity and is nowhere near as popular as the NFL. This year’s World Series was one of the lowest rated one’s in the history of the World Series and was a bad sign for MLB.

With the on going steroid controversy and baseball getting dropped from the Olympics, MLB needs something to increase their popularity and they should look no further then the World Baseball Classic.

Many American children are giving up Baseball and playing other sports such as Basketball and Football. The Super Bowl is the most watched game of the year and rates higher then the World Series. Right behind the Super Bowl in ratings are the World Cup and the Olympics.

Baseball, which was taken out of the Olympics, now has its own International Competition in the WBC. Baseball is immensely popular in Asia and the Caribbean, the WBC will undoubtedly be considered life and death in these countries, but not so much here in the United States. The World Baseball classic is much different then the Olympics because all of the rosters are littered with Major League talent. This year’s WBC should be an exciting one but not for many Americans, who have had some major icons, spurn playing for their country.

Alex Rodriguez, who is of Dominican decent, but was born and raised in Miami, decided to play for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. A- Rod has wants to honor is father who is Dominican, but he should embrace his role as an American Baseball Icon and play for the country he was born and raised in and has lived his entire life.

Amidst all the steroid talk, perjury and many American Icons getting in trouble, the WBC is there to instill some American Pride and players should embrace that. Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire, are American, set major records and should be American Icons.

Instead, these players are considered to be what is wrong is with the game and might never make the MLB hall of fame. Players like Albert Pujols, Manny Ramirez, Vladimir Guerrero, Miguel Cabrera, and Miguel Tejada are considered God’s in their home countries who would never chose to play for the United States in the WBC.

There are some good young American Baseball players like Ryan Howard, Evan Longoria, Jimmy Rollins, Mark Teixeira, but these players are no longer at the icon status of the people who I just named. These players can help restore the popularity and integrity of Baseball in this country by playing in the WBC while players like Alex Rodriguez and Josh Beckett are making major statements by not playing for their country.

Two years ago is was on the edge of my sit with every pitch of the World Baseball Classic. As an Orioles fan I often root against players like Derrick Jeter, Dustin Pedroia, Evan Longoria, but this WBC will give me the chance to root for them as an American. With all the bad that baseball has been associated with, and the popularity it no longer has, fans need something good to embrace and that is the World Baseball Classic.

Many players do not want to play in the Classic because it might hurt their arm or they claim it will hamper their preparation to get ready for the Major League season, instead, it hurts their image and the game. Baseball fans used to fill stadiums and embrace icons like Hank Aaron and Willie Mays, and it truly was the American Pastime.

Today baseball is considered to be a sport for foreigners and a sport for steroid users. The World Baseball Classic is Baseball’s chance to restore its image and increase popularity, now the players just need to embrace it.

In this year’s World Baseball Classic, many fans will be rooting for players that I have rooted against for years because of the bond that we all share. Players like Alex Rodriguez and Josh Beckett need to realize that they are not just a Yankee and Red Sox, but they are something bigger, they are American. Play for your sport, and your country, not for yourself.