Why the WBC Will Never Work
When the World Baseball Classic was created and put into place in 2006, it was intended to be the equivalent of the World Cup, aligning players with their countries in this exceedingly international past-time to see what nation developed the best ballplayers.
Now after it's second tournament, it is obvious that the WBC will never live up to those expectations.
From its inception, the tourney has been flawed. This has been discussed ad nauseam throughout this year's tournament most recently with ESPN's Jayson Stark outlining ways to fix it.
My apologies to Mr. Stark, but no matter who's plan he chooses (including his own), the WBC is doomed.
Just ask the host cities such as Miami, who actually managed to draw fewer fans than they do to an average Marlins game.
For one, the World Cup comparison is absurd. The way that soccer leagues are set up, specifically in Europe, is drastically different than any American sport. The MLB is THE league. European soccer isn't quite as inclusive.
Yes, some leagues are better or more prominent than others but no one can say that any soccer league throughout the world showcases the best players in the world. This is one of the reasons why the World Cup is so intriguing, because fans actually get to see the highest level of soccer possible.
Americans already see the highest level of baseball possible, so who cares about an international game. The only concern of Joey in New York is how healthy will K-Rod be after pitching in the WBC.
As comedian Tommy Tiernan says in his stand up Something Mental, England and Germany have hated each other for centuries, so when they play in the World Cup, it's about a more than a soccer match.
The physical strain that baseball puts on players, especially pitchers, doesn't make it viable for international competition. I know basketball and hockey are physical games and players still get hurt in international competition in those sports, too, but they don't have to deal with things like figuring out the best three man rotation or pitch counts.
Let's face it, MLB will never shut down its game to play in the Olympics or any other international event and despite the desire of at least one GM at the owner's meeting's it will not be part of the winter Olympics in the way that basketball is part of the summer, all of which leads me to this: Baseball is a grind.
It's games everyday, it's depth (especially pitching) and it's often about one player taking over in the most critical of moments in the most critical of games and taking a team on his back. (see the now retired Curt Schilling in the '04 playoffs) You can't do this is March. You can't do this with pitch count limitations and mandatory rest days for relief pitchers.
I hate to say it, but the WBC is a bastardized version of the game and will therefore never be the pinnacle of the sport.
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