Jan 17, 2013, 11:05 AM EST
The U.S. team for the World Baseball Classic was announced this morning and, no, not all of the big U.S. stars are on the roster. Not present are Buster Posey, Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Justin Verlander,Clayton Kershaw, David Price and many, many more.
Some may view this as a matter of professionals putting their professional obligations first. Jon Paul Morosi, however, finds it to be evidence of a bad attitude on the part of the big stars:
We should want to reassert our supremacy in the sport, particularly when considering our all-time WBC record suggests precisely such a statement is needed. Instead, it seems several American stars see the WBC as a matter of convenience rather than an obligation to country and sport. They don’t want to play entering their walk year. They don’t want to play if they just changed teams, signed a big contract or went to the postseason. They will do it, only if the timing is exactly right.
For just about every other participating nation, the opposite is true …
Morosi slams the non-participating players like Trout for making “lame excuses” and being “idle heroes.”**
All of which is pretty weak sauce to me. Morosi says that worries about injury risk some non-participants have aren’t reasonable, but his argument that playing in the WBC somehow better prepares players for the season aren’t very convincing themselves (note: perhaps the reason more non-WBC players were on the disabled list the April after the last WBC was because they were also less than 100% at WBC time). And at no point does he acknowledge how important a normal routine is to baseball players. These guys are the ultimate creatures of habit, and to think that radically messing with their habits is no big deal is to fail to understand what makes ballplayers tick.
But his larger point is that there is some unique obligation on the part of the U.S. to go full-bore into the WBC:
The US remains the structural center of the baseball universe, producing more than 70 percent of current major-league players and serving as the base for 29 of its 30 teams. The game is richer, greater and more diverse than it’s ever been. Those are manifestly positive developments. Yet, because of how the history of our nation is intertwined with the history of the sport, the US bears a unique responsibility to grow the WBC as the sport’s premier international tournament.
A large part of that obligation is showing up. And it would be nice to win once in a while, too.
Actually, I see those facts as reasons why U.S. players don’t have to show up for the WBC. Unlike some other countries, the U.S. has nothing to prove in baseball. No one will argue that Major League Baseball isn’t the pinnacle of the sport, and that it is here, in the MLB, where a player’s mettle is truly tested. And yes, it is true that the game is more diverse than it has ever been. Indeed, MLB has become a wonderful melting pot of nationalities and its diversity is ever-increasing. Which makes country-against-country tournaments like the WBC seem like some sort of anachronism, really. A nationalist contest that is really beside the point in this increasingly international sport.
The WBC is kinda cool. Not gonna doubt that. But to suggest that it is somehow more important than the MLB regular season, and that players who prioritize that regular season over the WBC are making poor choices, is frankly laughable.
**An earlier version of this post characterized Jon Paul Morosi’s criticism of players who do not participate in the WBC as one based on the players’ lack of patriotism. My reason for saying so was that it was my view, based on the entirety of his column, that he was, in fact, questioning players’ patriotism even if he did not intend to.
In the past few hours Morosi and I have had an offline discussion in which he explained what he was getting at with yesterday’s column. Rather than lack of patriotism, he explained, he was criticizing the attitude of players who have an “insufficient perspective and awareness” of their obligations and the importance of the WBC. While Morosi and I still likely disagree about all of this, I appreciate that questioning the patriotism of others is a serious charge and that, whatever my takeaway from Morosi’s column was, it was not his intention to do such a thing.
Dec 4, 2013, 3:45 PM EST
Joe Nathan‘s deal with the Tigers is now official and it’s a two-year contract believed to be worth $20 million with a team option for 2016, when the closer will be 41 years old. Nathan made the right call to turn down his $9 million player option with the Rangers, correctly predicting that he could…
Dec 4, 2013, 2:14 PM EST
As a follow-up to yesterday’s reports that the Mariners were making a serious run at Robinson Cano, now Kevin Kernan of the New York Post reports that the free agent second baseman and his agent met with the Mariners in Seattle. Kernan’s source told him “the meeting went very well.” There’s also been some recent…
Dec 4, 2013, 11:47 AM EST
Mark Trumbo has been linked to various teams in trade rumors, but yesterday Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto tried to squash that speculation by telling Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times: I wouldn’t even say we’re willing to trade Mark. We haven’t been out there shopping Trumbo. At the end of the day, our…
Dec 4, 2013, 11:19 AM EST
They couldn’t agree to a contract before Monday night’s deadline, so the Diamondbacks non-tendered Daniel Hudson, but Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that the two sides are close to hammering out a new deal for him to stick around. Hudson is recovering from a pair of Tommy John elbow surgeries and figures to…
Dec 4, 2013, 10:47 AM EST
These huge, later-career deals never turn out great. The best you can hope for when you sign a 30-something baseball player to a hugely expensive long-term deal is that he will have a couple of good years on the front end to boost up his value, have a nice rebound year somewhere in the middle,…
Dec 4, 2013, 10:15 AM EST
For any Reds fans holding out hope that Shin-Soo Choo will wind up back in Cincinnati, general manager Walt Jocketty has some discouraging news: We have not had any discussions in a couple of weeks. I had one conversation with [agent Scott] Boras a couple of weeks ago. We haven’t done anything since then because…
Dec 4, 2013, 9:44 AM EST
Paul Konerko pondered retirement following the worst season of his career, but Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the 37-year-old will return to the White Sox for another go-around. Konerko hit just .244 with 12 homers and a .669 OPS in 126 games this year and the White Sox signed Cuban slugger Jose Abreu to…
Dec 4, 2013, 9:15 AM EST
Philadelphia has a new backup catcher, as Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that the Phillies have signed 36-year-old Wil Nieves after trading Erik Kratz for Brad Lincoln yesterday. Nieves spent this year with the Diamondbacks, backing up Miguel Montero and hitting .297 with one homer and a .690 OPS in 71 games for the second-highest…
Dec 4, 2013, 8:44 AM EST
Mets general manager Sandy Alderson met with Curtis Granderson on Sunday and Adam Rubin of ESPN New York was told by a source that talks between the two sides “intensified” late Tuesday. Andy Martino of the New York Daily News hears that nothing is imminent, but that there’s increasing optimism that the Mets will land him.…
Dec 4, 2013, 7:35 AM EST
After reportedly agreeing to terms on a seven-year, $153 million contract with Jacoby Ellsbury, the Yankees are close to securing some Robinson Cano insurance. According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the Yankees are on the verge of signing Kelly Johnson to a one-year contract worth between $2.75-$3 million. Of course, the Yankees…
Dec 3, 2013, 11:17 PM EST
A’s GM Billy Beane is not done making moves. Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports tweeted Tuesday evening that Oakland is “likely to deal” left-hander Brett Anderson at next week’s Winter Meetings and lists the Yankees among the teams showing trade interest. The Blue Jays, Royals, Indians, Twins and Mariners are also thought to be in…
Dec 3, 2013, 10:25 PM EST
A minor trade in among all these high-profile deals, via MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki: Phillies have acquired RHP Brad Lincoln from Blue Jays in exchange for catcher Erik Kratz and LHP Rob Rasmussen. — Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) December 4, 2013 Lincoln was out of minor league options and the Blue Jays are loaded with relievers. The…
Dec 3, 2013, 9:48 PM EST
This ultra-active day on the hot stove continues. According to beat writer Troy Renck of the Denver Post, the Rockies are “closing in on” a two-year contract with free agent first baseman Justin Morneau. No word yet on the financial terms. Morneau struggled mightily throughout the 2013 season, batting .259 with a .741 OPS in…
Dec 3, 2013, 9:24 PM EST
The Yankees are betting big that Jacoby Ellsbury will age well in his thirties. They’re betting big that he’s not injury-prone and that his two season-ruining injuries were flukes. They’re betting big that his power will come back with Yankee Stadium’s short porch in right serving as such a tempting target. They’re betting big that…
Dec 3, 2013, 8:34 PM EST
CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman was the first to mention the possibility and now Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News has the deal confirmed. The Yankees have officially reached agreement on a seven-year contract with free agent outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury. The total value of the deal will exceed the seven-year, $142 million pact that…
Dec 3, 2013, 7:57 PM EST
Adam McCalvy of MLB.com reports that free agent slugger Corey Hart was cleared by a doctor on Tuesday afternoon to resume all baseball activities, mercifully bringing to a close his more-than-year-long recovery from both left and right knee surgeries. Hart can now begin showcasing himself to interested teams. The Red Sox, Giants, Rays and Rockies…
Dec 3, 2013, 7:03 PM EST
As first reported by Juan C. Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Miami has signed free agent catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia to a three-year, $21 million contract. The deal is only pending a physical. Salty drew serious interest from the Twins, Rangers, Rockies and Blue Jays before settling Tuesday with the Fish. He’ll take over…
Dec 3, 2013, 6:11 PM EST
That’s what ESPN’s Buster Olney is hearing from opposing teams … Other teams becoming convinced that Carlos Beltran is going to land with the Royals, on a deal of 3/$48 million. — Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 3, 2013 Other reporters have confirmed that there is indeed a three-year, $48 million contract offer on the table…
Dec 3, 2013, 5:25 PM EST
Trade rumors have been swirling around Dexter Fowler for a while now and the Rockies have sent the center fielder to the Astros in exchange for right-hander Jordan Lyles and outfielder Brandon Barnes. Fowler is 27 years old with two seasons remaining before free agency and the Astros’ payroll is so low that the fact…
Dec 3, 2013, 5:17 PM EST
Cole Hamels gave an interview to Philadelphia magazine back in September for a story about his wife and CSNPhilly.com put together some interesting tidbits, including this about the vibe in the Phillies’ clubhouse during their 89-loss season: The energy in the clubhouse changed. It used to be all high fives. This season, there weren’t as…
- Report: Talks between the Mets and Curtis Granderson have “intensified” 27
- Yankees agree to seven-year, $153M contract with free agent outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury 150
- Marlins sign free agent catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia to three-year, $21 million contract 42
- Carlos Beltran likely to land with the Royals? 16
- Rockies trade Dexter Fowler to Astros for Jordan Lyles 24
- Yankees agree to seven-year, $153M contract with free agent outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury (150)
- My imaginary Hall of Fame ballot (89)
- When will the Yankees regret the Jacoby Ellsbury contract? (75)
- Yankees’ Jacoby Ellsbury signing to pay big dividends… for now (74)
- Robinson Cano says he never asked for $300 million (69)