How the World Baseball Classic Will Save the Planet from Slop
- Why the World Baseball Classic?
- Aren't the best teams and recruited players in the United States anyway?
- Can we learn from how other cultures around the world play ball?
- Is the WBC a success or a flop?
Yeah, the ring leaders of the WBC are most likely after money and better reach with scouting, but the net result of the greater good is on the positive. Better competition, means better players, translating into better baseball...and to the owners, better money.
What probably fueled it's birth?
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) deleted baseball as a participating sport after the 2008 Summer Olympics because of big hoity-toity countries like France and the UK not choosing to field teams. Mostly because Cricket and Soccer are way more popular there, baseball is rarely seen, and as a laugh, the Brits compare baseball as a girlie game of Rounders.
Yes, the WBC has been around a few years before baseball got the ax in the Olympics, but the IOC had this in the boiler for some time I'm sure.
Also, we should be thanking the IOC for taking baseball's hand out of the Olympic cookie jar because America's involvement sucked anyway. Even though it gave top college and minor league players an invaluable recruiting stage, USA's best of the best chose not to chip in because it's right in the middle of the MLB regular season.
So, why the World Baseball Classic? Some say it's the international marketing long arm and sales growth of Major League Baseball, others say it's American Imperialism in sports at its finest.
The underlying principal of the WBC is:
To promote baseball worldwide, and plans to expand it's roster of cooperating countries by the next 2013 contest.
(Btw, the WBC contest is every 4 years, like the Olympics.)
Can we learn from how other countries play baseball?
Definitely. And we can learn to appreciate different styles of work ethic, hitting, pitching, team work, etc. Take for example Japan, the reigning two-time World Baseball Classic Champion AND primary American baseball world rival...
In a great book I'm reading called You Gotta Have Wa, written by Robert Whiting in 1990, he describes Team Japan in one Japanese word, "Doryoku" or "Effort." One Nippon League ballplayer by the name of Koichi Tabuchi once fielded 900 consecutive ground balls in a marathon session, it took him 2 hours and 50 minutes to finally collapse from sheer exhaustion.
The Japanese believe this kind of training is essential to developing spirit; thereby embracing the ability to progress through hard work.
On the other hand, the "American Way" is to rest 3-5 days between starts and limit starting pitchers to only 100 pitches per outing. Also stated in the above book, Americans believe a player's ability reaches a peak...present day MLB drama just goes to show,
How long the road is from MLB ball players looking to shoot up as a means to replace hard work. Ask guys like Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Cal Ripkin Jr., Tony Gwynn, and Ted Williams (anybody pre-steroids for that matter)...I'm sure they'd side with the work ethic of the Rising Sun.
Is the World Baseball Classic a success or a flop?
Well, so far, it seems to be working:
- Expanded country rosters coming in 2013,
- Promoting worldwide baseball,
- International stadium sell-outs,
- Huge potential value for the WBC (both monetarily and recruiting wise), and
- Campaigns for a "purer" game with a stricter drug policy (like the Olympics).
What's in it for the players to compete in the World Baseball Classic, including insurance for injuries?
Don't worry, the players' union hammered out the finer details before agreeing to play in the WBC:
- Player contracts are guaranteed AND
- There is insurance to reimburse the teams in case of injuries.
Players are paid by team participation and advancement through the tournament...$300,000 for performing, and the purse increases into an apex of the champion receiving $2.7 million.
Now, how is an American player eligible to play for another country?
You might've seen some of your favorite stars playing for Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Canada, etc. but what about the guys like Jason Giambi, Mike Piazza, and the like who are so far removed from their foreign land able to play for an overseas team? Here are the eligibility requirements.
The bottom line?
After Manny Ramirez tested positive for performance enhancers and got slapped with a 50-day suspension from Major League Baseball, not too much longer after the A-Rod "S" hit the fan, I'd like to see the WBC bring into perspective that GREAT baseball can be played without the likes of pro-hormones or steroids; countries such as Japan and Korea where you're more likely to find good ol' fashion hard work and integrity than the Sauce, Juice, Vitamin "S," Slop, or Roids.
American ball players and front offices still have much to learn about the integrity of the game, and the World Baseball Classic could help.
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