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Ichiro, Kuroda the latest Japanese players to bail on the WBC

Nov 19, 2012, 8:53 AM EDT

Ichiro

First Yu Darvish, then Hisashi Iwakuma, then Norichika Aoki and now Ichiro Suzuki and Hiroki Kuroda are giving the WBC a miss:

Ichiro Suzuki has told Japanese baseball officials he has decided not to take part in next year’s World Baseball Classic. Suzuki said Monday, “I appreciate being asked to play for Japan again at the WBC, but after the second tournament in 2009 I never considered playing in the third event” … Yankees’ pitcher Hiroki Kuroda, also a free agent, also said Monday he would not play in the WBC.

It’s not like Japan has a shortage of baseball talent or anything, but it is notable just how many of the big names who went stateside aren’t playing in the WBC.

  1. kiwicricket - Nov 19, 2012 at 9:25 AM

    They obviously fear the tough competition…
    After sweeping aside various baseball-ing powerhouses such as the Philippines and the Jonny Damon inspired Thailand, the mighty New Zealand ‘DiamondBlacks’ will face Chinese Taipei in the final qualifying round. The winner progressing to the finals tournament.
    With outstanding performances from their more well knows stars such as Andrew Hopkins, the diminutive builder from Hastings, or James Kofi, the parking attendant speedster from Muriwai, New Zealand seem clear favorites to win international tournament.

    In all seriousness, the NZ vs CT game is pretty much the first time NZ baseball will be shown live on television down here. If they progress to the final tournament, it will be a huge boost for the sport in this part of the world.

    • bronsonshore - Nov 19, 2012 at 10:35 AM

      Uhh, I hate to break it to you, Kiwi, but that game already happened. 2 days ago, actually. NZ got stomped.

      I do appreciate your WBC enthusiasm, though. Contrary to what the haters insist, it’s actually good, passionate baseball. Last night’s Panama-Colombia elimination game was tense, exciting, and well-played. Apparently it’s too much to ask of the baseball media to report on the actual games though, instead of just telling us who won’t be playing 5 months from now.

      • kiwicricket - Nov 19, 2012 at 10:50 AM

        Yep. Posted then checked the WBC website. Edit function needed.
        5hr rain delay looked like saving us!
        International team sport is far superior to franchise owned teams. It’s just unfortunate the way things are in the US it kind of suppresses that side of things. Shame really, all other sports thrive on the best players from their respective nations competing against one another. Hardly getting paid a dime either, so it’s for the love and passion of representing your country. Couldn’t ask for much more.

  2. historiophiliac - Nov 19, 2012 at 9:28 AM

    Every time I see this picture, I think it says he feels as uncomfortable in a Stankees uni as he looks.

  3. stevejeltzjehricurl - Nov 19, 2012 at 10:36 AM

    As much as I enjoy watching free baseball, I don’t blame these guys for skipping a contrived exhibition.

    • bronsonshore - Nov 19, 2012 at 10:45 AM

      How is any more of a “contrived exhibition” than the World Cup or the Olympics?

      • dcfan4life - Nov 19, 2012 at 11:53 AM

        I see what your saying with that comparison but cmon, putting the WBC against the most important tournament in sports globally in the World Cup and the longest running global competition (and to some countries like the USA more important the the World Cup) with the Olympics just because all of them are global and occur every 4 years is quite a stretch.

      • bronsonshore - Nov 19, 2012 at 12:17 PM

        I can’t argue that the World Cup is currently more important. Here’s the thing, though: that wasn’t always the case. England, the country that codified and invented modern soccer, didn’t even bother to show up to the first World Cup. Uraguay, the country that won the first World Cup, didn’t even bother tho show up for the second!

        Everyone who derides the WBC as “just an exhibition” has to realize that people once said the same thing about the World Cup. What changed? Nothing but the passage of time. There is absolutely nothing tabgible or structural that makes the WBC any more of an “exhibition” than the World Cup, it’s just been around longer.

        As Kiwi says below, if anything an MLB season is more artificial. WBC teams are logical groupings of players representing their countries. MLB teams are random combinations of players playing under a corporate banner. That’s actually far more contrived than the WBC.

      • stevejeltzjehricurl - Nov 19, 2012 at 2:27 PM

        Easy answer is what’s noted earlier — this isn’t the World Cup or the Olympics.

        But if I’m a player, the real reason I wouldn’t play is that I get paid to play baseball for a particular MLB club. Why bother risking injury and investing my preparation time for something the MLB owners cooked up to get some more money? Yes, this will assist in marketing the game, and it’s quite possible I might see some benefit from that… except my career may not extend long enough for the benefits of these games to mean anything in terms of adding to my bottom line.

        As to whether anyone will care about the WBC if it has long enough to build a traditional following — not sure I see that. The Olympics and World Cup benefit from having had time to compete in a less-crowded sportsmarketplace for the eyeballs of fans and their pocketbooks. They’re established as global competitions, such that kids grow up longing to represent their country in those respective comeptitions. Perhaps kids in other countries will feel the same way about the WBC someday, but speaking as a proud flag-waving American, I don’t see kids here wanting to grow up and play in the WBC so much as they’ll grow up wanting to be a Phillie, a Brave, a Dodger, a Cub, or (if their soul has been removed) a Yankee.

        And please don’t tell me that an MLB season is “more artificial” because the players aren’t logically grouped by nationality. My reason for calling it contrived is because MLB created it as a marketing tool, not because they’re looking to put together a more coherent system for organizing players. That’s before we get to the teams often including players born in one nation but competing for another based on ancestral links that are sometimes tenuous. And the lines between nations are nothing if not artificial in the first place.

      • bronsonshore - Nov 19, 2012 at 4:14 PM

        “Easy answer is what’s noted earlier — this isn’t the World Cup or the Olympics.”

        That’s not an answer, that’s circular reasoning.

      • dcfan4life - Nov 19, 2012 at 9:00 PM

        The World Cup has become the largest single sporting even in the World. The Olympics are second. This is because every country can take part in both of them. In order to participate in the Olympics all you need is a person, the venue supplies everything else. To play soccer all you need is a ball. To play baseball you need a field with bases and proper dimensions, at least 10 players, gloves, bats, baseballs, if its organized you will need catcher equipment, a backstop, etc… It isnt cheap enough for every country to be able to build up their youth and compete with the World Cup and Olympics. Time made those 2 events huge yes, but the countries already player soccer and did olympic things before the events.

    • kiwicricket - Nov 19, 2012 at 10:55 AM

      So the best players from each country competing against one another is contrived? Handing a guy like Jeff Loria a hundred million bucks, a baseball team and a complete monopoly to make more money regardless of it’s competitiveness is not slightly ‘contrived’ also?

  4. dcfan4life - Nov 19, 2012 at 11:46 AM

    Easy decision. Most major Americans skip it too simply because the timing is all bad. Baseball above all other sports has its participants find success in spurts, grooves, and after time. Hence the term mid season form. A one month tournament before an extremely long season will never shows us the best baseball from the best players. Too bad to, the idea is great, and the structure is well done.

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