Yesterday I sat down to watch the United States and Puerto Rico compete in an elimination game for the World Baseball Classic. It was the top of the ninth and a chant of unrivaled irony rained from the stands.
The Puerto Rico supporters began chanting "Go Home, Gringos!"
The irony of this chant is that it was being chanted in English, but that is beside the point.
Fast forward 30 minutes or so and David Wright is up to bat. Bases loaded, two outs. As Wright hits a gorgeous shot down the foul line, the crowd is silent.
While the entire American team is celebrating and creating the customary "man pile," there was nothing but orange seats in the background.
This is the premier international baseball competition that experienced huge success in 2006.
Yet, nobody is watching.
What is wrong with the World Baseball Classic?
In my opinion, the idea is beyond fantastic. Professional players competing for their countries? Fantastic.
The opportunity to cheer their country in the grandest of all stages. The Men's World Cup gets virtually no publicity in the states, but the WBC seems to get as much as possible.
I am not naive enough to think this is a coincidence. The WBC is powered by Major League Baseball, so I'm sure MLB throws it's weight around to get some coverage.
The sad truth us, the United States fan base simply has no interest in it.
The excitement isn't there.
But, why? Is it the format? The time of year it is being held?
Frankly, I don't have the answer. I would like to believe it is the horrid format that is the double elimination.
Is making every game meaningful so important that you must sacrifice it's legitimacy?
Many people feel the format is extremely unfavorable and overall garbage. The 2006 format was, for lack of a better adjective, perfect.
Two rounds of round robin and then a four-team playoff. It was fair, and overall effective. Was there any doubting that Japan and Cuba were the best teams out there?
But, I digress...back to the problem at hand.
The 2009 World Baseball Classic.
You know what, my guess for its apparent failure is as good as yours.
Why is the WBC really failing?