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.
Jul 12, 2014, 1:08 PM EDT
Jean Segura has returned to his native Dominican Republic following the death of his nine-month-old son yesterday.
Jul 12, 2014, 12:20 PM EDT
Brandon Phillips underwent surgery yesterday to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb and now the Reds will be without one of the potential options to fill in at second base.
Jul 12, 2014, 11:36 AM EDT
There’s increasing evidence that Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton is not of this world.
Jul 12, 2014, 10:53 AM EDT
Jake Odorizzi will move up in the rotation to start this afternoon. The hope is that Price will feel well enough to pitch tomorrow.
Jul 12, 2014, 10:22 AM EDT
The previous record was held by Hall of Famer Bruce Sutter, who went 39 consecutive appearances with a strikeout in 1977.
Jul 12, 2014, 9:38 AM EDT
At the very least, Jordan Zimmermann will not be able to pitch in the All-Star Game next week. His availability beyond that is up in the air.
Jul 12, 2014, 8:56 AM EDT
A quick recap of a busy Friday around MLB, including another loss for the Brewers.
Jul 11, 2014, 11:05 PM EDT
The AL Roster swaps one injured Tiger for a healthy one. Ian Kinsler will replace Victor Martinez.
Jul 11, 2014, 10:35 PM EDT
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle doesn’t expect Gerrit Cole to return to the club shortly after the All-Star break.
Jul 11, 2014, 9:50 PM EDT
Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy will start for the NL All-Stars after all. Miguel Montero makes the roster, taking the place of the injured Yadier Molina.
Jul 11, 2014, 9:09 PM EDT
Marco Scutaro could make his 2014 debut on Friday night off of the bench. He will be inserted into the starting lineup on Saturday.
Jul 11, 2014, 8:45 PM EDT
Mark Trumbo has returned to the Diamondbacks a little sooner than anticipated.
Jul 11, 2014, 7:50 PM EDT
Michael Saunders is out with a strained oblique, and Justin Smoak is back in the major leagues after a stint at Triple-A.
Jul 11, 2014, 6:55 PM EDT
More than a month after going on the disabled list with a left finger injury, Carlos Gonzalez returns to the Rockies lineup for Friday’s game against the Twins.
Jul 11, 2014, 6:05 PM EDT
The Mets’ Single-A affiliate, located in St. Lucie, Florida, knows just what to do with the LeBron James jerseys Heat fans no longer want.
Jul 11, 2014, 5:17 PM EDT
Jerry Sands was in line for expanded playing time for the Rays when he went down with a wrist injury three weeks ago and today the team announced that he’ll require season-ending surgery.
Jul 11, 2014, 5:04 PM EDT
Dirt may be turning soon at Wrigley Field
Jul 11, 2014, 4:52 PM EDT
Released earlier this week by the Astros, right-hander Jerome Williams has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Rangers.
Jul 11, 2014, 4:46 PM EDT
“He stepped in a hole in the parking lot” is a new one, as far as weird injuries go.
Jul 11, 2014, 4:30 PM EDT
Not something you see players do every day.
- Jean Segura leaves Brewers following the death of his nine-month-old son 0
- Settling the Score: Friday’s results 24
- Rangers catcher Geovany Soto arrested for marijuana possession 61
- Babe Ruth made his major league debut 100 years ago today 50
- Rockies owner: “maybe Denver doesn’t deserve a franchise . . . maybe time for it to find a new home” 79
- And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights 33
- Masahiro Tanaka diagnosed with partially-torn UCL in elbow 113
- Yadier Molina to miss 8-12 weeks with a torn thumb ligament 31
- Shocker: the Red Sox publicly criticize A.J. Pierzynski after cutting him (191)
- John Lackey on Nelson Cruz: “Not even going to comment … I’ve got nothing to say about him” (143)
- Masahiro Tanaka diagnosed with partially-torn UCL in elbow (113)
- The 2014 All-Star rosters have been announced (103)
- Giants broadcaster says Angel Hernandez “does not belong in the big leagues” (102)