Wishing that baseball was more like the World Baseball Classic is to fundamentally misunderstand baseball
Mar 20, 2013, 7:35 AM EDT
With the end of the World Baseball Classic comes, I hope anyway, the end of Jon Paul Morosi’s columns shaming baseball and baseball fans who aren’t as into it as he is. If it is, though, he’s saved a good one for last.
After saying that baseball is rarely as entertaining, passionate or captivating as it was in the final round of the WBC — and that this may be because the U.S. team wasn’t there — Morosi lays his cards on the table:
The Dominicans and Puerto Ricans didn’t give us a glimpse into baseball’s future. They showed us what the sport should be right now, with fervor that burned bright even on a cold, drizzly night at AT&T Park: Flags waved. Horns honked. Whistles blew … However briefly, baseball acquired the Did you see that? quality more commonly associated with football and basketball. The kids like that stuff, you know … now that the tournament is over, baseball (sadly) will revert to its default settings: Home-run stylings, excessive celebrations, grand spectacles of individual expression all verboten. The Code, as enforced by managers and players, makes it so.
In saying this — and saying that regular major league baseball should emulate the WBC in these respects — he’s ignoring the fundamental nature of the regular baseball season. He’s ignoring that the WBC lasts eight to ten games, not 162. He’s ignoring that it is utterly impossible for WBC-level intensity to last for six months. He’s ignoring that one the great joys of baseball is the slow build of intensity over time. An intensity which ratchets up once the pennant races get serious and then maintains over the course of the playoffs.
But he doesn’t need me to tell him this. One of the guys he himself quotes — Puerto Rico coach Carlos Delgado — says as much:
“It’s very hard to keep this intensity level over the course of 162 games,” acknowledged Carlos Delgado, the former All-Star who served as a coach for the Puerto Rican team. “I’m not saying players do not play with passion during the season, but it’s hard to do this, day in and day out. There’s a different set of emotions. You’re playing for your country. You’re only playing six or seven games. The fans get into it. It’s a great event, a great competition.
And it is a great competition. I’ll take issue with the relative importance of the thing and many of its technical aspects, but in and of itself it is great fun, it is of great importance to fans outside of the United States and, yes, it is quite intense. I have doubts it will turn into a World Cup level thing, but if it does good for baseball.
But it’s one thing to acknowledge and enjoy (as Morosi clearly does, much to his credit) the unique nature of the World Baseball Classic and another thing altogether to believe that (a) its unique nature should be the norm in regular season baseball; and (b) if it is not the norm, it is to regular season baseball’s detriment. That’s where Morosi is here, and that’s why I take issue with him.
Despite his approving nods to football and basketball in the column, baseball is not football and basketball. Or hockey or soccer for that matter, to which he also alludes. It is not “the national competition.” It is “the national pastime.” It is a game which can and often does fade into the background over the course of months as opposed to demanding that we drop what we are doing and Take Notice. It is the soundtrack or score to the summer for most people. The accompaniment which complements our days and nights, not the concert or main event which demands that we block out those days and nights and refrain from other obligations. It is always there, not as a loud roar, but as a steady, comforting hum that maintains no matter what else is going on in our lives, and thank God for that, because our lives can and often do carry plenty of drama and intensity of their own.
Those who disparage baseball — and there are many — frequently claim these things to be the very problem with the game. But baseball’s calm and steady nature and its, eventually anyway, slowly-building intensity are features, not bugs. To suggest that the very aspects of baseball which make it unique and enjoyable to so many people constitute its essential problem is to fundamentally misunderstand its essential nature.
That is where Morosi seems to be. In a place where he misunderstands that the WBC and regular season baseball are entirely different things, each of which would not be what it is if it attempted to approximate the other. In his efforts to pit the two against one another and, by extension, to pit the feelings and motivations of the supporters of the two events against one another, and in rush to conclude that one side is sorely lacking, is to miss the bloody point entirely.
May 25, 2013, 11:35 PM EDT
If the aforementioned quote refers to a science fiction film, you can count me in. As it relates to baseball, though, I’m not on board. In a column for FOX Sports Ohio, Hal McCoy uses some dubious statistical comparisons to equate Phillips to Joe Morgan. It’s an otherwise interesting and informative column, but I can’t…
May 25, 2013, 11:05 PM EDT
Starter Mike Minor tossed seven and a third scoreless innings tonight as the Braves shut out the Mets 6-0. The lefty struck out ten and walked two, and even hit a home run in support of himself — a two-out, two-run shot off of Mets starter Dillon Gee, sparking what ended up being a five-run…
May 25, 2013, 10:20 PM EDT
Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter, recovering from thoracic outlet syndrome in his right shoulder, felt soreness after his latest throwing session, reports Jenifer Langosch. Langosch clarifies that Carpenter didn’t feel pain, so the Cardinals won’t shut him down. Rather, they will have him long toss and throw bullpen sessions instead of facing live batters. Carpenter only…
May 25, 2013, 9:35 PM EDT
Right-hander Roy Oswalt, signed by the Rockies to a Minor League deal on May 3, battled mechanical issues in his first start with Double-A Tulsa last night. In five innings, Oswalt allowed three runs on three walks and four hits, including two home runs. At least reports had his fastball touching 94 MPH. MLB.com’s Thomas…
May 25, 2013, 9:00 PM EDT
Cardinals starter John Gast exited today’s start against the Dodgers after recording just three outs. Gast walked Scott Van Slyke on five pitches to lead off the second inning before being taken out of the game with shoulder tightness, tweets Jenifer Langosch. This was the third start of the 24-year-old’s young career. He had allowed…
May 25, 2013, 8:04 PM EDT
On a day of odd baseball, the Giants take home the first place prize as they defeated the Rockies 6-5 on a walk-off, one-out, two-run home run by Angel Pagan. The Rockies had taken a 5-4 lead on a Troy Tulowitzki solo homer to left field off of Giants closer Sergio Romo in the top…
May 25, 2013, 7:55 PM EDT
Rays closer Fernando Rodney, who saved 48 games last year while posting a 0.60 ERA, has had a lot of issues to start 2013. With the Rays up 3-1 in the ninth inning, Rodney served up an RBI double to Brennan Boesch and an RBI single to Brett Gardner to tie the game at three-all,…
May 25, 2013, 7:15 PM EDT
The Mets had stormed back late last night against the Braves to tie the game 5-5 after eight innings just before crew chief Dale Scott decided to halt the game, to be resumed later. At 6:10 PM ET tonight, the game was unpaused and the Braves quickly retook the lead on a Dan Uggla RBI…
May 25, 2013, 6:45 PM EDT
Behind five shutout innings from starter Billy Buckner and four shutout innings from the bullpen, the Angels blanked the Royals 7-0 this afternoon. Hank Conger and Josh Hamilton each contributed solo home runs to aid in the offensive effort. The win is the Angels’ seventh in a row, bringing their record up to 22-27. They’re…
May 25, 2013, 6:05 PM EDT
Former Major League utilityman Wilson Valdez has signed with the Camden Riversharks as reported on the team’s official website. Valdez, who turned 35 years old on May 20, spent last season with the Reds, posting a .463 OPS in 208 trips to the plate while playing at short stop, second base, third base, and center…
May 25, 2013, 5:30 PM EDT
The Yankees announced this afternoon that they have claimed left-hander David Huff off waivers from the Indians. Huff was designated for assignment by Cleveland earlier this week when fellow left-hander Scott Barnes was added to the active roster. Huff, a supplemental first-round pick of the Indians in 2006, owns a 5.40 ERA over 52 starts…
May 25, 2013, 4:10 PM EDT
While the Dodgers lost 7-0 to the Cardinals last night and currently sit at 19-27 on the season, they aren’t about to rush Hanley Ramirez back from his left hamstring injury. Austin Laymance of MLB.com reports that Ramirez ran curves, took batting practice and fielded ground balls before last night’s game. He estimated that he’s…
May 25, 2013, 3:03 PM EDT
The Orioles have placed right-handed reliever Pedro Strop on the 15-day disabled list with a lower back strain. Steve Johnson has replaced him on the active roster and is available out of the bullpen for Saturday’s game against the Blue Jays. After posting a 2.44 ERA in 70 appearances last season, Strop has really struggled…
May 25, 2013, 2:02 PM EDT
Joe Mauer broke up Anibal Sanchez’s no-hit bid last night with a one-out single in the ninth inning. He has made a habit out of spoiling history. Last night was the third time in Mauer’s career that he has broken up a no-hit bid in the ninth inning. He previously did it in on May…
May 25, 2013, 1:15 PM EDT
As expected, the Yankees have placed outfielder Curtis Granderson on the 15-day disabled list after he broke a knuckle on his left pinkie finger when he was hit by a pitch last night. He’s expected to miss a minimum of four weeks, which pushes his return to late June or early July. It’s awful luck…
May 25, 2013, 12:48 PM EDT
Indians manager Terry Francona is back in Boston this weekend, so naturally he’s mingling with old friends and former colleagues. And beating them up, too. Before last night’s game, NESN broadcaster Don Orsillo stopped by the Indians’ dugout to visit Francona and well, it suddenly turned into Wrestlemania. Sideline reporter Jenny Dell documented it all.…
May 25, 2013, 12:09 PM EDT
Josh Reddick was talking about the possibility of wrist surgery less than two weeks ago, but he it turns out that he could be back in the Athletics’ lineup in the near future. According to Jane Lee of MLB.com, Reddick took 20 swings during batting practice yesterday at Minute Maid Park in Houston and said…
May 25, 2013, 11:24 AM EDT
The Nationals thought they were getting a potential rotation staple when they signed Cuban right-hander Yunesky Maya to a four-year, $6 million deal back in 2010, but they are now prepared to turn the page. According to Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com, the Nationals will designate Maya for assignment in order to make room for infielder…
May 25, 2013, 10:48 AM EDT
Marlins right-hander Alex Sanabia was seen spitting on the baseball during his start Monday night against the Phillies, a clear violation of MLB rules. However, it went unnoticed by umpires and it appears that he will not receive any sort of punishment. As for Sanabia’s defense, well, he’s pleading ignorance on the whole thing. The…
May 25, 2013, 10:07 AM EDT
The Braves currently sit at 28-18 on the season and hold a four-game lead over the Nationals in the National League East, but they could get even stronger soon. Brandon Beachy began a minor league rehab assignment with Triple-A Gwinnett last night and allowed two runs over four innings. The 26-year-old right-hander has already thrown…
- Blue Jays fan throws beer at Nate McLouth (124)
- MLB is putting players in camouflage uniforms on Memorial Day. Which is kinda weird. (118)
- Barry Bonds: Miguel Cabrera is the best … but not as good as me (117)
- And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights (112)
- Las Vegas police investigating Jose Canseco as a suspect in sexual assault case (82)
- Blackhawks stave off elimination
- Video: Highlights: Blackhawks top Red Wings 4-1
- PST: Bayern Munich beats Dortmund, wins Champions League
- PHT: Bruins bounce Rangers, advance to Conf. finals
- PBT: Pacers' Hill: Only God scarier than LeBron
- Hundreds run Boston Marathon's final mile
- MST Monaco GP predictions: Mercedes' time?