Skip to content

Wishing that baseball was more like the World Baseball Classic is to fundamentally misunderstand baseball

Mar 20, 2013, 7:35 AM EDT

world baseball classic logo

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.

Latest Posts
  1. Endy Chavez opts out of contract, released by Mariners

    Mar 31, 2015, 2:14 PM EDT

    Endy Chavez Getty Images

    Chavez appeared in 80 games for the Mariners last season.

  2. Justin Verlander could start the season on the disabled list

    Mar 31, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    Justin Verlander Justin Verlander

    It’s supposedly just an arm cramp, but Brad Ausmus isn’t ruling out the DL.

  3. Chris Tillman named Opening Day starter by Orioles

    Mar 31, 2015, 1:20 PM EDT

    tillman getty Getty Images

    Tillman also started on Opening Day for the Orioles last season.

  4. Baseball is working to get Spanish-speaking interpreters for every team

    Mar 31, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT

    Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 12.08.20 PM

    A long-overdue measure will, apparently, soon be in place.

  5. Rangers release veteran right-hander Jamey Wright

    Mar 31, 2015, 12:46 PM EDT

    Jamey Wright AP AP

    Wright had a rough spring, allowing 11 runs in eight appearances.

  6. White Sox to place reliever Jake Petricka on the disabled list

    Mar 31, 2015, 12:16 PM EDT

    Jake Petricka White Sox AP

    Petricka saved 14 games with a 2.96 ERA and 55/33 K/BB ratio in 73 innings last season.

  7. It’s only spring training, but Trevor Bauer is finally throwing strikes

    Mar 31, 2015, 11:50 AM EDT

    Trevor Bauer AP

    “I’m encouraged by it, and we’ll see how it carries over into the season.”

  8. Every team and fan base thinks it’s “blue collar”

    Mar 31, 2015, 11:33 AM EDT

    Blue collar

    But most people can afford tickets or are paid to play the games are decidedly not blue collar.

  9. HBT Extra: Previewing the American League West

    Mar 31, 2015, 11:02 AM EDT

    Mike Trout Mike Trout

    Jenna and I talk about the Mariners’ dynamite pitching staff, Mike Trout’s need of some support and when the Astros will finally break into the picture.

  10. Domonic Brown will start the season on the disabled list

    Mar 31, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT

    Domonic Brown Domonic Brown

    The Phillies outfield is gonna be a train wreck.

  11. MLB’s delayed Josh Hamilton ruling could keep the Angels from extending Huston Street

    Mar 31, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT

    Huston Street Angels AP

    Street is without an agent, representing himself, and has said he won’t negotiate after Opening Day.

  12. The doomsday clock for the Rays leaving Tampa Bay moves up a couple of minutes

    Mar 31, 2015, 9:50 AM EDT

    Watchmen Clock

    There is still a lot of time before anything can happen, but it’s looking less and less likely that the Rays will stay in Tampa Bay.

  13. Fred Wilpon did not talk to the media yesterday and the media is quite perturbed at this

    Mar 31, 2015, 9:25 AM EDT

    Fred Wilpon AP

    Really, are there any Mets fans who actually care what Wilpon has to say at this point?

  14. The Collective Bargaining Agreement doesn’t even enter into the Kris Bryant situation, right?

    Mar 31, 2015, 7:49 AM EDT

    Kris Bryant

    Some people have argued that maybe a Kris Bryant/MLBPA lawsuit is not as silly as some of us think. I’m not sure I’m buying that.

  15. Dodgers agree to minor league deal with Freddy Garcia

    Mar 30, 2015, 11:34 PM EDT

    Freddy Garcia AP AP

    Garcia, 38, last pitched in the majors in 2013 as a member of the Orioles and Braves.

  16. Red Sox won’t rush prospect Blake Swihart to the majors despite Christian Vazquez injury

    Mar 30, 2015, 11:25 PM EDT

    Blake Swihart AP AP

    Ryan Hanigan and Sandy Leon figure to handle catching duties for the Red Sox in the early part of the season.

  17. Phil Coke wins spot on Cubs’ Opening Day roster

    Mar 30, 2015, 10:10 PM EDT

    phil coke getty Getty Images

    This day has mostly been about who will not be on the Cubs’ Opening Day roster, but it was announced this evening that reliever Phil Coke has earned a spot on the team.

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. J. Fernandez (4738)
  2. C. Rodon (4302)
  3. Y. Tomas (4032)
  4. K. Bryant (3970)
  5. S. Doolittle (3937)
  1. A. Rendon (3746)
  2. A. Cobb (3700)
  3. K. Jansen (3686)
  4. T. Walker (3685)
  5. C. Martinez (3677)