Monday, February 27, 2006

It's time for a spring Classic.

Well, it’s that time of year. Some of us have been waiting all winter for this event to come. Yes, teams from all over the map will be coming together to decide a champion. The excitement is palpable, or something like that. The players want to show everyone that they are the best. I’m sure you know what event I am talking about. It’s time for the World Baseball Classic. What else could I have been talking about?

The World Baseball Classic starts March 3. This tournament will involve teams from all over the world in a World Cup style tournament like they have for soccer. When I first heard of this, I thought it sounded like a great idea. The U.S. against the world. We don’t have enough us against them competitions and I love a chance to spank the rest of the world in a sport. Unfortunately the U.S. will have a big challenge beating some of the Latin teams. Even so, I am still looking forward to the start.

It turns out that I may be the only one. Not only do fans not seem to care too much for the Classic, but players that were placed on the teams rosters seem to be backing out every day. Just the other day, Manny Ramirez backed out because of his bladder control issues, I guess. At the rate we are going, by the time this thing starts most of these players will be minor leaguers.

I understand that major league owners and team general managers do not want any of their players to get hurt in what they see as a glorified series of exhibition games. Especially since these games will take place before the start of the regular season. I understand their fear and their worry, but I also think this will be a good thing for the sport. I think this could help the sport grow in other countries so that these same teams may find their superstar of tomorrow in a place they never thought there would be baseball talent.

And let’s face it, baseball isn’t exactly the NFL. It is loaded with more teams that have no chance to go to the World Series than those that do. It could do with a shot of popularity even if it would come from foreign markets. Perhaps if this does work, it will bring in more money for baseball, leading more teams to spend more money to try to compete. I don’t know about you, but I like a little parity in my sports. I don’t like seeing the Yanks and Sox in every postseason.

The big mystery to me is why is the World Baseball Classic being trashed like it is? I don’t understand some people’s logic. How can you trash an event that hasn’t even taken place yet? How do the haters know that this will be a huge failure? I do see that calling this event a “Classic” is a bit of a reach since this is the first year, but can’t we give it a shot before we call this the biggest sports blunder since the XFL?

If baseball can pull this off I believe that it can become an event to be looked forward to every year. They need to make it interesting, which means stocking Team USA with recognizable names. In fact, Major League Baseball needs to make sure that every country’s team has name players so that even the casual fan will have a reason to watch the games. I know that I will be more willing to watch a game involving the Dominican Republic if Pedro Martinez and Vladimir Guerrero are playing. I know some “stars” are backing out, but MLB needs to put some pressure on teams and individual players to remain in this tournament for the sake of success.

I know that I probably will not be interested in watching the first 6 games that take place in Tokyo, Japan. Japan versus Chinese Taipei does not rank high on my must see list. I also realize that a majority of these games will take place during the NCAA tournament and given a choice I will go with the NCAA. I also know that the players will not be in “game” shape, but come on; these players don’t sit at home eating Krispy Kremes all off-season. With all that being said, I think that we should all give this thing a chance before we shoot it down. Who knows, we might find out that we like it.

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