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No, the U.S. doesn’t need to win the WBC to be “the preeminent baseball country”

Mar 7, 2013, 12:38 PM EDT

Jon Paul Morosi is back on the “The WBC is the Be-All, End-All of Baseball” beat this morning:

He’s right, you know. If the U.S. doesn’t win this thing all of the U.S. players are going to defect to play in Cuba or Japan. Guys here will falsify their ages in order to catch the eye of Dominican scouts. In order to stanch the talent flow Major League teams are going to have to demand posting fees and things. It’s really going to change it all.

Seriously, though: Can we not acknowledge that baseball is an international game, not just a U.S. game (and that it’s not even the number one sport in the U.S.)?  And that, yes, it’s quite possible that individual All-Star teams made up of people from other countries may be better than U.S. All-Star teams? And that even if that happens, baseball played in America, by people from all over the world, is still the top of the sport?

I’m not sure what’s so hard about this. I’m not sure why, however much you like the idea of the WBC, you can’t acknowledge that dividing up players by nations, however, interesting, doesn’t say anything meaningful about the state of sport.

  1. danglickman - Mar 7, 2013 at 12:44 PM

    I’m a big WBC fan, but even I think it is foolish to say that the WBC determines who the best team is. Heck, even if the WBC had 100% participation, no pitch counts, mercy rules or passport players, it wouldn’t determine the preeminent baseball country in the world. It’d just determine what the best national baseball team was over a two or three week period.

    Put another way: Did anybody really doubt that the USA was the best basketball country, even after losses in the Olympics and World Championships? No. Is the winner of the FIFA World Cup automatically made the number one team in the world rankings of that sport? No. Because in a tournament, anything can happen, and there are far more factors than just how a national team does.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 7, 2013 at 1:14 PM

      No. Is the winner of the FIFA World Cup automatically made the number one team in the world rankings of that sport? No.

      Usually it is, because it’s extremely rare for the winner/loser of the WC to be an also ran. Also, FIFA world rankings are weighted heavily against WC results.

      • danglickman - Mar 7, 2013 at 1:28 PM

        But it is NOT automatic. It plays a role, but it’s not automatic. Like, if the USA were to somehow win a FIFA World Cup, they probably wouldn’t have instantly shot up to number one. They’d have shot up, but probably not number one.

      • cktai - Mar 7, 2013 at 2:04 PM

        Besides it is not just the national team that determines what a pre-eminent nation is. England is one of the premier football nations even if it was 1966 since they last won a prize, and they failed to qualify for the 2008 European Championship. However, like England, if the USA fails to win the WBC any time soon, their national team will become the target of jokes.

      • American of African Descent - Mar 7, 2013 at 2:24 PM

        They do not play football in England; they play soccer.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 7, 2013 at 8:55 PM

        @dan

        But it is NOT automatic. It plays a role, but it’s not automatic.

        It’s not automatic, but it ends up happening anyhow because “parity” in the WC is about as farfetched as a fair sport run by Sepp Blatter. There have been 19 total WC’s, and only twelve teams have reached the finals, one of which isn’t even a country anymore (Czechoslovakia). In those 19 contests, only three times has Germany, Brazil or Italy not been in the final. Brazil and Germany have 14 total appearances out of 38 (37%).

        And i guess it got cut off, but I meant to write that FIFA rankings were based off multiple WC results weighing the most recently the heaviest. It’s one of the reasons why the US is always a lot lower because they always throw a stinker tournament in there.

        They do not play football in England; they play soccer.

        No, they play football. It’s why every team is referred to as “Tottenham F.C.” for football club.

    • Francisco (FC) - Mar 7, 2013 at 2:01 PM

      It’d just determine what the best national baseball team was over a two or three week period.

      You just described the World Series (sans the national part)

      • danglickman - Mar 7, 2013 at 3:33 PM

        Well, the “best” team doesn’t always win the World Series either. That doesn’t make a good WS any less fun, just as how the WBC, for all it’s warts, is still a bunch of fun if you take it as it is.

      • bmorelikeme - Mar 8, 2013 at 8:21 AM

        He just described every tournament ever. But that’s the great thing about sports.

        In week 16, my Baltimore Raven’s certainly weren’t the best team in Football, but they got hot at the right time and made their run.

        Sometimes the best team proves it during that 3 week window, sometimes another team beats them. That’s why they play the games.

    • bh192012 - Mar 7, 2013 at 6:07 PM

      Umm that’s because America dominated international basketball games in all but a handful of years. At this point that same statement can be made about baseball for Cuba. While the US and Japan fight for 2nd place. Which is pretty sad considering our baseball history.

      Remember, when you watch an MLB game, many of those players don’t call the US home, or would rather play for another country in international events. If they were paid anything near the same at home, they would play there.

  2. chacochicken - Mar 7, 2013 at 12:55 PM

    Can’t we take this back to 1980 and beat a juiced up Soviet Union team with a miraculous bottom of the 9th comeback against a giant fireballing Russian version of Dennis Eckersley? Damn that Cold War made for such great theater.

    • danglickman - Mar 7, 2013 at 12:57 PM

      If only China were good at baseball!

  3. El Bravo - Mar 7, 2013 at 12:57 PM

    If the US wins, we’ll surely over-hype it as more meaningful than it really is. If we don’t win, I’m sure it will be reported as no big deal.

    • schlom - Mar 7, 2013 at 1:25 PM

      I don’t think this is true at all. Some may over-hype it but I think the general reaction will mostly be indifference, whether the US wins or not.

      • El Bravo - Mar 7, 2013 at 1:35 PM

        General reaction, as in the general US population, I agree. The reaction from the baseball-centric media though, will make it out to be a bigger deal than it is in reality I think.

        Personally, I like the WBC and hope it gains traction. I wish it was held entirely in one region like the World Cup (kinda like Craig daydreamt about yesterday). If the US wins, I’ll be very excited b/c I’m planning to watch most games and root for them. That said, if they win, it really isn’t too meaningful at this point since so many other countries haven’t taken it completely seriously yet either.

  4. Joe - Mar 7, 2013 at 1:03 PM

    “For Americans to say the WBC is not a true measure of international standing is disrespectful to tournament itself and other nations.”

    Actually, no Jon. It gives the tournament the exact amount of respect it deserves. It would be disrespectful to lie about such a thing.

  5. kopy - Mar 7, 2013 at 1:08 PM

    New rule: teams are divided by the country they play in professionally the majority of the year.

    Even without the Blue Jays, I think MLB will fare pretty well.

    • jwbiii - Mar 7, 2013 at 1:29 PM

      So you’re suggesting loyalty to the signature on your paycheck instead of your country in an international competition?

      • kopy - Mar 7, 2013 at 1:40 PM

        I’m only suggesting that would illustrate why the U.S. still is the preeminent baseball country.

      • kopy - Mar 7, 2013 at 1:59 PM

        And no, I’m not seriously suggesting that as a competition.

    • bh192012 - Mar 7, 2013 at 5:49 PM

      That would only measure which country is willing to spend the most on baseball. Who cares about that? That isn’t a measure of interest, it’s a measure of wealth.

      • kopy - Mar 8, 2013 at 10:08 AM

        That IS a measure of interest. Where do you think the money comes from? All the best Australian Rules Football players play in Australia. Sure, they get paid the most there, but that’s because Australians care about that sport the most.

        Wealth helps a lot, but my first job out of college paid more than many MLS players make today. US is not the preeminent soccer country.

  6. historiophiliac - Mar 7, 2013 at 1:09 PM

    Geez, is that hat styrofoam?

  7. schlom - Mar 7, 2013 at 1:27 PM

    I don’t understand why it’s disrespectful to say that it means more to some countries than others. I’m sure winning the gold medal meant more to the Americans in 1980 than it did to the Soviet players so does that devalue the result?

    • florida76 - Mar 7, 2013 at 2:31 PM

      No, it’s factually incorrect to suggest winning a gold medal meant more to the Americans in 1980 than the Soviet players. The Soviet Union had dominated Olympic competition, and beaten NHL clubs. Those talented Soviet players were both motivated to maintain their status as the best in the world, and were under incredible pressure by the Soviet regime as well.

      It’s just a misreading of history to suggest otherwise. The USA was just better that night, and went on to earn the gold.

  8. jaybird22seven - Mar 7, 2013 at 1:32 PM

    Bottom line, the timing of the WBC is terrible. These players should be with their MLB clubs getting ready for the season right now. This tournament should have been held in the off season. Poor decision.

    • paperlions - Mar 7, 2013 at 1:54 PM

      It is not bad timing for all countries, just (or mostly) for North America. There is no time of year that is the off-season for every country….and there the off-season is important for most players to have time to heal/recuperate…especially for pitchers. In short, there is no time of year that all countries will have their players in mid-season form for a tournament.

      For MLB, this is the best timing as it doesn’t interfere with the season, and barely interferes with preparations, but still allows players to have an off-season.

  9. randygnyc - Mar 7, 2013 at 2:15 PM

    As currently comprised, the Dominican team is chock full of elite players. The US team is more of the pedestrian, average players comparable to a team like the….Braves. The American players aren’t motivated by the WBC.

    • historiophiliac - Mar 7, 2013 at 2:39 PM

      Venezuela!

      • stlouis1baseball - Mar 7, 2013 at 3:14 PM

        Greenland!

      • historiophiliac - Mar 7, 2013 at 3:58 PM

        Boooo!!!!

  10. nothanksimdriving123 - Mar 7, 2013 at 3:39 PM

    I can’t imagine it ever happening, but what I’d love to see is for MLB to shut down for at least a month every 4 years and have a real world tournament with each nation using all its very best players. Limit it to real baseball powers, so no Greenland or Syria or other fringe countries. Each team plays each other team 3 times. The top 4 make the semi-finals, a 3 of 5 series. Then a final for the real world crown. OK, ready, set, down-thumb.

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