The World Baseball Classic: Worst Idea Ever
Sharing a bottle of vitamins with Alex Rodriguez. Hitting a bong next to your photographer buddy at a frat party. Talking sports with anyone from Philadelphia. Major League 2.
I consider the things on the above list among the worst ideas in recent memory. And here's something else to add to the register.
The World Baseball Classic.
At its roots, it's not a terrible thing. I'm on board with the idea of sharing the game, welcoming a world-wide audience, promoting the sport, blah blah blah. But who the heck decided to put the thing in the middle of Spring Training?
I can almost imagine the discussion now:
Some dude: "I've got a great idea. In order to promote the sport of baseball, we'll take a bunch of guys who are about a week into their usual preseason routine, force them to throw harder and faster than they're used to for three weeks of March, and then send them back to their own teams for a productive and healthy campaign."
It just doesn't work. Believe me. I remember watching Mike Timlin struggle mightily throughout the 2006 season after his appearance in the World Baseball Classic. And why don't we ask Luis Ayala, who blew his arm out and missed the entire year in '06, what he thinks of the idea?
There are those who say he's only one guy, and everyone else got out without major incident. And, technically, that's true. But is that the likelihood every season or did baseball just get lucky the first time that it wasn't a major star?
What if Derek Jeter tears his Achilles running out a ground ball? What if Roy Oswalt's elbow explodes firing a pitch?
To me, it just comes down to risk vs. reward. The reward here is certainly worth considering, and it isn't fair to deny players the right to represent their home country (even if Alex Rodriguez seems to have a hard time determining what country that actually is, having suited up for the US last time and the Dominican Republic this time. Maybe drug testing standards are lower down there). Nobody would begrudge the likes of Daisuke Matsuzaka, who won the MVP of the contest in 2006, further adding to his legacy as a hero in Japan, the chance to play for his people.
But the risk is just too great. It's only a matter of time before a big-name star goes down with a significant injury, and some team is robbed of a chance to compete for the World Series. Look at it this way: If you're an owner and you shelled out somewhere in the neighborhood of $100 million for some dude, and he ruins his season before even putting on your uniform, don't you have a right to be fired up?
I know they tried to move it to another time and couldn't. I know Major League players are whiny and aren't willing to commit if the event takes place during their sacred offseason. I know Bud Selig doesn't want to give up the All-Star Break.
But those aren't reasons to move the thing to March—they're reasons to re-think the idea in the first place. It sounds like a fantastic plan, until you realize there's no good time in the calendar year for it to take place. That's a deal breaker, if you ask me.
So consider me officially uninterested. I won't be tuning in, other than to check the newswire after each game to make sure Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, and Matsuzaka make it out alive. My goal is to be able to watch the Red Sox this season as Theo Epstein intended them to be—whole.
Promoting the game is a great idea. Doing so at the expense of some of your stars isn't. And there's nothing classic about watching someone's dreams of a World Series championship die before April Fool's Day even arrives.
Even people in Pittsburgh don't have to deal with that.
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