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.
Mar 6, 2014, 11:28 PM EST
FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig has hired Adam Katz and Andy Mota of Wasserman Media Group as his new agents. He was previously represented by Jaime Torres. Puig signed a six-year, $42 million contract with the Dodgers in June of 2012 and remains under contract through 2018, so there’s no…
Mar 6, 2014, 10:31 PM EST
Sad news to pass along this evening, as Tommy John surgery pioneer Dr. Frank Jobe has passed away at the age of 88. Jobe worked for the Dodgers for 50 years and is best known for performing the first-ever unlar collateral ligament reconstructive elbow surgery on left-handed pitcher Tommy John on September 25, 1974. While…
Mar 6, 2014, 10:20 PM EST
It was originally thought that Padres outfielder Cameron Maybin would be lost for 2-3 months after he suffered a torn left biceps tendon while making a diving catch Sunday, but there’s a chance he could be back sooner. According to Corey Brock of MLB.com, Padres general manager Josh Byrnes said that Maybin opted against surgery…
Mar 6, 2014, 9:30 PM EST
Troubling news for the Angels this evening, as Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com reports that right-hander Dane De La Rosa has left Angels camp to undergo an MRI on his right forearm. De La Rosa was hit hard in today’s Cactus League game against the Dodgers before he was pulled due to right forearm tightness. Gonzalez…
Mar 6, 2014, 8:20 PM EST
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? You decide. Baseball fans were provided with a heaping slice of awesomeness in this afternoon’s Cactus League matchup between the Dodgers and Angels, as Mike Trout‘s attempt at an inside-the-park home run was dashed thanks in part to a throw from Yasiel Puig. In the bottom…
Mar 6, 2014, 7:11 PM EST
Earlier this week, Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson named left-hander Patrick Corbin and right-hander Trevor Cahill as his starters for the upcoming two-game season opening series in Australia from March 22-23. The Dodgers have yet to make an official announcement on their starters for the series, but Ken Gurnick of MLB.com writes that things are starting…
Mar 6, 2014, 6:09 PM EST
Perhaps Ervin Santana‘s frustration is beginning to boil over as he remains unsigned with the start of the regular season just weeks away. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal has an interesting new wrinkle on his situation: Sources: Free-agent RHP Ervin Santana considering a change of agents. Currently represented by Bean Stringfellow of Proformance.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal)…
Mar 6, 2014, 5:02 PM EST
Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2014 season. Next up: The Los Angeles Dodgers. The Big Question: Can the deep-pocketed Dodgers be stopped? After a midseason turnaround led to 92…
Mar 6, 2014, 3:48 PM EST
According to Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun Sentinel, the Marlins will be contacting the league office after the Red Sox declined to bring any of their established regulars to Palm Beach for Thursday’s spring training game. While teams are supposed to bring at least four “regulars” to road spring games, the rule has always…
Mar 6, 2014, 3:22 PM EST
Non-roster left-hander Rich Hill had been away from the Red Sox since the start of camp due to a family health issue. On Thursday, he arrived in camp and elaborated on his absence, passing along the sad news that his newborn son has died. “We had a son on December 26 and he was born…
Mar 6, 2014, 2:56 PM EST
Courtesy of Hunter Pence‘s instagram account comes this little gem, in which the 5’11″ Tim Lincecum and the 6’8″ Kameron Loe swapped jerseys.
Mar 6, 2014, 2:32 PM EST
Bob Nightengale spoke with Albert Pujols and Pujols mentioned a question someone asked him early in spring training. The question: “are you motivated to put up the same numbers as Mike Trout?” Pujols, remembering it and obviously still mad, went off: “Can you imagine someone saying that to me?” Pujols tells USA TODAY Sports in…
Mar 6, 2014, 2:16 PM EST
With J.A. Happ struggling and reportedly dealing with back issues, the number of openings in the Toronto rotation has increased from one to two. According to MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm, Drew Hutchinson is now looking like a good bet for one of those spots, with Happ, 2012 first-round pick Marcus Stroman, Todd Redmond and Esmil Rogers…
Mar 6, 2014, 12:51 PM EST
Jon Niese saw his first game action since undergoing an MRI exam on his sore shoulder last week, throwing two innings in a Mets intrasquad game today. And he seemed very happy with how things went, telling Adam Rubin of ESPN New York: I felt great. It’s a great feeling to go out there and…
Mar 6, 2014, 11:51 AM EST
BRADENTON — It’s raining harder now, and someone just told me that they’ve issued a tornado watch for the area. Yet they still haven’t banged the game. Crazy, but it’s their ballpark. They can do what they want. The Pirates did, however, open their clubhouse to the media at 11am, maybe because everyone knows that…
Mar 6, 2014, 11:19 AM EST
Once the Orioles surrendered their first- and second-round draft picks to sign Ubaldo Jimenez and Nelson Cruz there was speculation that they might decide to punt a third-round pick too in order to sign Ervin Santana. It hasn’t happened yet, but Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports that the Orioles “maintain interest” in Santana…
Mar 6, 2014, 10:47 AM EST
Matt Carpenter had a breakout season in 2013, handling a position switch to second base just fine and hitting .318 while leading the league in hits (199), doubles (55), and runs scored (126). Now this season he’s moving again, this time to third base, and Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that…
Mar 6, 2014, 10:34 AM EST
BRADENTON — It stinks that there’s probably not going to be baseball here today, because this park is pretty sweet: I love McKechnie Field. It’s old, and despite recent renovations, it still has that old-timey feel. And of course the renovations make it more comfortable. And the food here is great. Just a wonderful park.…
Mar 6, 2014, 10:15 AM EST
Bronson Arroyo‘s durability was his primary selling point as a 37-year-old free agent, but his stint with the Diamondbacks has started with an injury. Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports that Arroyo has a bulging disk in his back and is expected to be out for 7-10 days. He was scratched from Tuesday’s scheduled start and…
Mar 6, 2014, 9:38 AM EST
BRADENTON — I thought the day was going to go better than this. I woke up and, magically, the R key on my keyboard was working again and all was right with the world. Then I saw this: That little marker is where I’m sitting in McKechnie Field right now and that stuff to…
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