Skip to content

No one cares about the WBC as much as the pundits do

Jan 25, 2013, 5:30 PM EDT

From Jim Bowden, another call for people to rally to the World Baseball Classic:

Bowden’s ESPN colleague Buster Olney, however, passes along an anecdote which shows that, for baseball players and their teams, this is not a “major problem” at all:

Recently, a player went to a team employee and asked for some advice on whether to participate.

“I can’t say anything,” the official responded. “I do have one question for you: How do you pay the bills?”

Major League Baseball is about Major League Baseball. The WBC is an initiative that is important to the league office, but simply doesn’t compare in importance to the regular season in the minds of the teams and the players.

Yet we keep hearing stuff like this from Bowden and, last week, from Morosi.  They insist that the WBC is important and that non-participation in the WBC is a “major problem.” But why? And to whom?

  1. Masud - Jan 25, 2013 at 5:31 PM

    Reblogged this on vizualbusinessbd.

    • drewsylvania - Jan 25, 2013 at 6:43 PM

      Reblogged this on iamshamelessdbg

  2. jonrox - Jan 25, 2013 at 5:43 PM

    I’ve said it before: I don’t know anyone that cares about the WBC.

  3. mybrunoblog - Jan 25, 2013 at 5:47 PM

    WBC???? World breast conference? Washington Bureau of Chili? I mean come on, nobody cares about the WBC. How many days until opening day?

    • nygiantstones - Jan 25, 2013 at 5:54 PM

      Water Based Carbohydrates? Weekend Bohemian Club? World Bowling Championship? Of which WBC doth he speak?

  4. echech88 - Jan 25, 2013 at 5:53 PM

    I like the WBC but wouldn’t care at all if it was put down after this year. Morosi is a pretentious tool who thinks if he feels it, the rest of the world MUST agree.

  5. alexo0 - Jan 25, 2013 at 5:59 PM

    Nobody cares about anything as much as the pundits do.

  6. cosanostra71 - Jan 25, 2013 at 6:14 PM

    I don’t know because I don’t pay enough attention to soccer, but it seems to me that the players in that have high participation in international tournaments, from the World Cup to the Euro Cup. What is it that is different about soccer where it is normal to play in international tournaments, but in basketball, baseball and many other sports, you rarely see the A-team play? Just curious.

    • crackersnap - Jan 25, 2013 at 6:29 PM

      Oh, I dunno.

      Maybe 100 years head start in tradition building and fine tuning. Maybe the 5 times worth of international participation and top-tier athletes. Maybe the significantly fewer regular season contests for the athletes. Maybe the significantly fewer conflicts with franchise dates in existing venues. Maybe the better pay for the top-tier competitors in World Cup.

      Stuff like that.

    • schlom - Jan 25, 2013 at 8:01 PM

      Lately there has been a ton of conflict between club teams and national teams – not so much for the World Cup since it takes place during soccer’s off-season but for players leaving to play the WC qualifiers. So this isn’t just a baseball problem, it’s a sports problem.

  7. thebadguyswon - Jan 25, 2013 at 6:15 PM

    Go away Bud, and take the WBC with you.

  8. cubfan531 - Jan 25, 2013 at 6:35 PM

    Scrap the WBC, and follow the NHL’s model of letting the players play in the Olympics every 4 years. I just get a feeling that having the best players from every league would both get baseball back into the Olympics, and do more from an international standpoint than the WBC does.

    It’d also help having players in mid-season form, rather than having them be only somewhat into their routine.

    • lardin - Jan 26, 2013 at 9:21 AM

      No more baseball in the olympics….

      • cubfan531 - Jan 26, 2013 at 9:30 PM

        “I just have a feeling that having the best players from every league would get baseball back into the Olympics.”

        I have no doubt that the fact that the best the MLB franchises send is AAA is why baseball got dropped.

  9. bronsonshore - Jan 25, 2013 at 6:42 PM

    Wow, Craig, you found one anonymous quote from one person that proves that “no one cares about the WBC…”  How could anyone refute that?  Oh, I know, another quote from one person!  

    “I want to represent the country,” Rodney told El Caribe. “It will be a pleasure to be there in the Dominican uniform. You don’t need permission to represent your country.”

    Hey, look at that, by your reasoning that one quote = everybody, I have deduced that everybody cares about the World Baseball Classic.

    You know, this blog used to be great before you guys just decided to be the snarky kids in the back of the class.  The WBC is great.  It has the potential to be the highest level of competitive baseball ever played.  Seriously.  A true game between the US and DR would have like 12 future hall of famers in it.  You guys are too busy hating everything to enjoy good baseball.

    • DJ MC - Jan 25, 2013 at 9:12 PM

      A true game might have that many Hall of Famers. Possibly more.

      Unfortunately, when you look at the rosters for this tournament, that wouldn’t be the case. There may be half that many between the two, Oh, and none of the pitchers would fall in that class.

      The two biggest problems with the tournament are that both marginal players and pitchers in general are discouraged from participation. That hurts the overall talent level, and puts a ceiling on the quality of the games.

      • raysfan1 - Jan 25, 2013 at 10:23 PM

        I would also add that there are too many participants that do not really represent their own country. While Fernando Rodney is proud to represent the Dominican Republic, there are others who use relatively tenuous connections to play on a national team even though not a citizen of that country.

      • DJ MC - Jan 25, 2013 at 11:08 PM

        @raysfan1

        I don’t think that’s much of an issue, though. If anything that helps out some of the lesser teams. Mike Piazza playing for Italy, for example, just makes that team more competitive.

      • raysfan1 - Jan 26, 2013 at 10:15 AM

        DJMC–
        I give you a thumbs up because on the business level I agree with you.

        My statement was more a personal preference. I would like the WBC better if players all truly represented their own country. However,that doesn’t even always happen in the Olympics, so I might as well get over it.

      • DJ MC - Jan 26, 2013 at 10:27 AM

        @raysfan1

        I’m sure that’s the eventual goal, and I agree that it would be a more interesting tournament that way. With luck (and support) the tournament will survive long enough to build up the talent in more nations and allow full and quality representation by homegrown talent.

        I would love to see that.

  10. drewsylvania - Jan 25, 2013 at 6:45 PM

    I actually love the idea of the WBC. I think it’s fun to see a bunch of players and up-and-comers play for their country on an international stage. Especially the Cubans, who we’d never see otherwise.

    I don’t know when a good time to play it is, though.

    • indaburg - Jan 25, 2013 at 8:09 PM

      I agree with you. I like seeing the international players which is why I don’t think it’s a problem our MLB stars don’t want to participate. It would be more competitive, and therefore interesting, if our college players or minor leaguers played instead.

  11. paint771 - Jan 25, 2013 at 6:52 PM

    I think the WBC is an easy punching bag for guys like Craig and the commentators here precisely because it isn’t FOR them – namely, American baseball fans. The problem that MLB faces is that that’s the only kind of baseball fan there is, and the WBC is the attempt to rectify that.

    Whether it’s the best tact is certainly an open question, but the whole point of it is to reach those audiences who DON’T have easy access to 162 games a year and couldn’t tell you the difference between the Cleveland Indians and the Cincinnati Reds. Baseball is an almost pathetically insular sport – only American football is worse. And that’s a problem, and should be seen as a problem by, yes, American baseball fans. Because outside of America, parts of Canada, kind-of-Japan, and like two or three (incredibly small) countries south of Florida, there are not kids in alleys of Spain playing the game, or Russian teenagers, or men on a work break in India (and those guys can pitch). That gives baseball about the same kind of reach as handball or strong man. And that hurts the game.

    Sports live or die not on the basis of the 2,000 greatest professionals, which is the basis on which you’re judging this, but by the 20,000,000 8-year-olds out there putting ball to stick, a small percentage of which grow up to feed into that pool of 2,000 and a much larger of which grow up to be the ones in the stands cheering them on. It says a lot that the first Brazilian in baseball debuted last year, and the first Italian the year before – two of the most sporting countries on earth. There are more people from Trinidad and Tobogo playing high level professional soccer and being paid millions right now than there have been MLB players from Brazil or Italy ever. That is, in a way, kind of a disgrace, to those that care about the game and really believe it to be among the pinnacle of sport.

    That’s not a “game is dying” point – the game will be fine. But it is a “the game is severely limited” point, in terms of market, in terms of fandom, in terms of talent.

    And yeah, the WBC seems a weak attempt to rectify the situation, but it’s not stupid – soccer and to a lesser extent cricket and rugby do just fine with professional leagues as well as international tournaments that capture imaginations. Those may well be the exceptions, but it’s certainly smart to explore the possibility. Basketball is trying this too, and is already generally ahead of the curve relative to baseball on this front.

    I don’t blame any player who takes a pass on it (as you say, on an individual player level, why wouldn’t you?), but at the same time, it’s an effort that has a helluva lot more capacity to change the game for the better than, say, expanded replay or more than 10 Hall of Fame ballot options or whether the All Star game determines home field advantage in the World Series or the kinds of things we that would post on HardBallTalk care about endlessly. All of that is chump change, from a good-of-the-game perspective, compared to the outside shot that baseball takes off in Scandinavia or Southeast Asia or Central America or whatever. Hell, it’s not even close.

    So yes, non-participation in the WBC IS a major problem. But why? Because the lack of it makes baseball worse than it could. For whom? For us.

    • hojo20 - Jan 25, 2013 at 6:55 PM

      Couldn’t you just summarize your manifesto in one or two sentences?

      • paint771 - Jan 25, 2013 at 6:58 PM

        World…good?

    • bronsonshore - Jan 25, 2013 at 7:47 PM

      Well freakin said

    • louhudson23 - Jan 26, 2013 at 6:33 AM

      Nicely put,Paint.Well written and like most things worth reading,requires more than 40 characters and two lines.I live in France and am happily surprised to see some local baseball clubs being formed.I am on tap to take part in two different ones this Spring and Summer.At 52,I am not remotely the player I once was,but am looking forward to sharing my love of the worlds best game and a chance to take some hacks against live(weak??) pitching. Baseball is truly a great game and to use MLB as the template of how the game is best played is far too narrow a definition.MLB is not the game it once was primarily because of expansion of teams,continued(and withing 5 years again) playoff expansion,contract/cap constraints,reliance an emphasis on individual stats(primarily offensive) to the detriment of fundamentals etc. In other words,it is an entity unto itself now,with success as much an ability to succeed within the confines of the insular conditions ,rather than simple ability to choose up sides and go after it…..much like the NBA.
      I don’t think the WBC is going away anytime soon.It will grow and attitudes will change. I am curious as to what the drug testing policy is and who administers it and when and how they are tested.Is it possible that a more stringent and random testing program makes certain folks more reluctant than others to participate?

  12. vallewho - Jan 25, 2013 at 7:50 PM

    But why? And to whom?

    Exactly.

  13. hermie13 - Jan 25, 2013 at 9:42 PM

    IMO the issue with the WBC is the timing of it. It would be way, way, WAY better to have it after the season instead of before. Lots of players go to winter ball already. Guys dont have to worry about it conflicting with spring training.

    I know the WBC would go up against the NFL if it was in November but play the games during the week and you’d only have to compete with MAC conference football games.

  14. paperlions - Jan 25, 2013 at 9:49 PM

    Some fans think it is neat. It is important to people trying to make money off of it. Most baseball fans don’t care about it, the vast majority of players don’t care (even many that actually participate), and no team owners/employees care.

    • historiophiliac - Jan 25, 2013 at 9:53 PM

      But would you wear the T-shirt????

      • paperlions - Jan 25, 2013 at 9:54 PM

        Nope. I would wear one from the Domingo Beisbol academy though.

      • historiophiliac - Jan 25, 2013 at 9:56 PM

        Wow, and a t-shirt snob!

      • paperlions - Jan 25, 2013 at 9:58 PM

        I’m just particular is all.

      • historiophiliac - Jan 25, 2013 at 10:10 PM

        Of course you are.

  15. joerymi - Jan 25, 2013 at 10:11 PM

    I care a TON about the WBC. It is a source of great anxiety to me that players of the team that I am a fan of will actually participate in this, and risk injury and production late in the season for this sorry attempt. Does MLB not realize that the greatest international talent does play each-other…IN THE MAJORS?

    Essentially 75% of my television viewing, as little as it is, is MLB Network. They do a great job especially compared to a certain four-letter network. But the synergy is killing me.

  16. Kevin Gillman - Jan 25, 2013 at 10:55 PM

    WBC is fun to watch, as a fan. But the problem lies to when it takes place, before the season starts. If they played in November, or even January, it not only gives fans additional baseball to watch in the winter, but it also gives players time to heal from playing.

    Another issue is the players themselves do not train accordingly during the offseason, in part because they do not know if they are on the roster until January. How stupid is that? So, if the players are nursing injuries, they have no time to prepare for that. The season SHOULD be the importance here, but at the same time, the players have to prepare to play baseball earlier. It’s similiar to the winter league.

    Another issue is ESPN, the main sports network does not promote it that much at all, instead we see NFL Live every 2 hours, on the clock. Even when nothing is going on, yet MLB just signed that lucrative deal a year and a half ago to stay on ESPN.

    To ESPN, MLB is the stepchild they don’t want.

  17. halohonk - Jan 26, 2013 at 2:01 AM

    Wish none of my Halos were playing. Thank God Albert isnt, hes coming off the surgery or he would have. As it is our starting ss is. Arte needs to make sure these guys dont play n risk injury .

  18. louhudson23 - Jan 26, 2013 at 6:35 AM

    Nicely put,Paint.Well written and like most things worth reading,requires more than 40 characters and two lines.I live in France and am happily surprised to see some local baseball clubs being formed.I am on tap to take part in two different ones this Spring and Summer.At 52,I am not remotely the player I once was,but am looking forward to sharing my love of the worlds best game and a chance to take some hacks against live(weak??) pitching. Baseball is truly a great game and to use MLB as the template of how the game is best played is far too narrow a definition.MLB is not the game it once was primarily because of expansion of teams,continued(and withing 5 years again) playoff expansion,contract/cap constraints,reliance an emphasis on individual stats(primarily offensive) to the detriment of fundamentals etc. In other words,it is an entity unto itself now,with success as much an ability to succeed within the confines of the insular conditions ,rather than simple ability to choose up sides and go after it…..much like the NBA.
    I don’t think the WBC is going away anytime soon.It will grow and attitudes will change. I am curious as to what the drug testing policy is and who administers it and when and how they are tested.Is it possible that a more stringent and random testing program makes certain folks more reluctant than others to participate?

    • hojo20 - Jan 26, 2013 at 10:59 AM

      France sucks.

  19. louhudson23 - Jan 26, 2013 at 6:39 AM

    Just to clarify,I subscribe to the MLB Network,watch over one hundred games a year.Baseball at it’s highest level is still and will continue in my lifetime to be played in MLB and in the U.S. I have high hopes that that one day this is no longer true and that this greatest of games is played and beloved worldwide,producing the best players possible,regardless of origin or locale.

  20. canadatude - Jan 26, 2013 at 7:21 AM

    I’m sure that American fans would support the WBC more if their team could finish in the top 3. Just like any sport where the rest of the world can compete, it must be diminished. Toddlee-Winks would be in the Olympics if undetectable steroids would help the Americans dominate. Just ask Lance Armstrong.

    • paperlions - Jan 26, 2013 at 9:02 AM

      I actually don’t think US fans would give a crap regardless of how the US team finishes. Baseball fans in the US already have teams to which they are heavily invested and players they love and cheer for based on those affiliations regardless of the player’s country of origin. The fact that there are only a few countries that can field competitive teams, that most of the top players from many countries don’t participate, that it happens at a time of year when MLB players aren’t in top form, and that the format has too few games to determine anything about the relative quality of the participating teams are all far more important reasons for dis-interest than how the US team does.

    • drewsylvania - Jan 26, 2013 at 12:25 PM

      Uh, anyone who ever got a small bit famous by cycling, was doping. It’s hardly limited to Lance the Liar.

  21. chiefmac64 - Jan 26, 2013 at 12:04 PM

    “Kind of” in Japan? Now that’s just silly.

  22. kalinedrive - Jan 26, 2013 at 5:24 PM

    Nationalism is stupid. If other countries want to play baseball, nobody is stopping them. But to pretend that holding a competition where different countries play against each other is going to build interest in the sport or make the sport more interesting to anyone is silly. People either like the sport or they don’t. Those who do will play it, and their best players will be heroes to their local fans. But I don’t think people are going to start playing it just because they might get a chance to play against some other countries for a few weeks a year.

    • paint771 - Jan 27, 2013 at 4:09 AM

      Hi. This is a great point. If it didn’t ignore all of baseball and the entirety of its history, and you weren’t a self-righteous idiot.

      You may have missed the part where the New York Yankees are especially popular in New York, or where the Houston Astros weirdly seem to have most of their games in Texas. Hell, you can tell where you are in Chicago just by asking the guy you pass on the street if he’s a Cubs or White Sox fan.

      Not to put too fine a point on is – I am after all a dude living in Philly who considers himself a Kansan who grew up in upstate New York who is a lifelong Toronto Blue Jays fans. But it’s just ignorance to pretend that baseball (or pretty much any sport) has NOT been entirely borne of teams which are geographically based and a sport which largely became the American pastime because they held competition between cities playing against each other.

      Seriously, quick, tell me your team. And then be prepared to explain how that allegiance was in no way predicated on the random chance of you having a geographical connection to it. Go ahead. I’m listening. Or is it somehow more stupid when people from Venezuela do it than when people in Boston do?

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Featured video

When home-field advantage isn't so
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. T. Lincecum (3201)
  2. M. Bumgarner (2879)
  3. M. Morse (2562)
  4. J. Shields (2294)
  5. Y. Cespedes (2115)
  1. H. Pence (1569)
  2. A. Wainwright (1556)
  3. L. Cain (1543)
  4. U. Jimenez (1540)
  5. T. Ishikawa (1526)