The 2013 World Baseball Classic just finished pool play and the United States advanced to the next round; the more important story isn’t who advanced – it is why MLB players are even involved in the WBC.
There are many flaws to this gimmick, one of which is playing these games in March, when MLB players should be preparing for the regular season, instead of playing in a meaningless tournament. MLB players participating in the WBC have nothing to gain and everything to lose. The players’ bodies aren’t ready to go 100 percent, which puts them at a higher risk for injury.
Every player wants to win the gold, unfortunately, the one team that will never get close is Team USA. They will never win because they will never get all of the best USA players on the team. This is not a knock on the current roster, it’s just that the WBC seems more important to the players and fans from other countries.
This years’ game should be the last WBC played. The only reason the WBC started is because the Olympics removed baseball, but that doesn’t make playing in the WBC the right thing to do.
The only reason fans in the United States watch, or even care about the WBC, is because they miss baseball, and Spring Training is boring. It is not the same in the other countries, these games are their fans’ World Series.
It is too bad the United States team will never have a realistic chance at winning the WBC. Maybe they would if they had all the best American born players – the problem is that will never happen. Why would any player from the United States want to play in the WBC? They are in a no win situation. If they lose, they are an embarrassment; if they win, it’s because they have a team of All-Stars.
Not one person in this country should be upset with the United States players who decided to stay with their MLB teams – they are doing the right thing. MLB players have a short window, and the small percentage that have long careers do not want to risk injury playing in a pointless tournament. Who would want to take that risk?
New York Yankees’ Mark Teixeira is the perfect example of why not to play in the WBC. He wanted to represent the United States and help Team USA finally bring home a Gold Medal; how did that work out?
Teixeira’s injury is why the United States will never field a team with the best players for the WBC. Teams don’t want to lose their top players for eight-to-ten weeks, ever, especially preparing for anything but the MLB regular season. Players don’t want to risk injury to play in the WBC when their goal is winning a World Series.
MLB owners and GM’s should get together to form an alliance that will prevent players from participating in the WBC. If that is too extreme, management should at least strongly persuade their players to stay with their MLB teams. Some clubs actually did just that, but all of MLB needs to be on the same page to make it a league-wide rule, so it’s fair for all players and for the WBC.
This may be a good idea, but MLB will never do it because they are making money on the tournament – the MLB Network is covering the games and collecting the majority of the revenue from the WBC.
It makes no sense for the United States to play, given that many of the best players chose to remain at Spring Training. Likewise, it’s not fair to the players if they are looked down upon for not playing – their job is to play Major League Baseball.
As fun as these games may be, for the few fans in the United States that are watching, the risk is not worth the reward. This isn’t just about the United States team – the entire WBC should not include any players from MLB.
The MLB players have a job to do and as fun as it may be to represent their home country, those organizers are not paying the players their fat paychecks. For the sake of the real baseball league, follow the lead of the Olympics and let this be the last WBC, before more players get hurt ruining the season fans actually care about.
Nik Swartz is the Featured Columnist for the New York Yankees. Follow him on Twitter @sweetnesz13