The 2013 World Baseball Classic is in full swing. I guess there is interest in Mexico. On social media I do see some WBC tweets, so maybe there is some solid interest around the country as well. In New York, I’m not feeling it. But I have thought about it, it could be me. I’m not trying to rain on anyone’s parade but this event is one giant yawn for me. I just don’t get it. As I am not against the fun of International competition in general, in fact I enjoy it, I wanted to explain why I think the WBC is, well, dumb. Hopefully I don’t offend the entire world in the process.
Now, I know there is no perfect time to play the WBC. That happens to be problem number one. But now seems like a pretty stupid time to be doing this. The idea of the WBC is to expand the fan base of baseball, period. Clearly the overall global market is at the core of the idea, not the U.S. market. I get that. But without strong U.S. interest and buzz, is the WBC really ever going to be worth the aggravation? Well, by doing the WBC now, it ends up in competitions it cannot win in this country. The first, and craziest, is with major league baseball. Major league teams need to get ready for Opening Day so they can’t just shut down right now. So while the WBC is going on, we also have daily spring training games of our own teams, with all of the usual spring training plotlines. Why would someone like me, a diehard Mets fan, skip that to watch Japan play Cuba? I find the very idea baffling.
Next is that it is Championship Week, in college basketball, and the homestretch of the regular season for both the NHL and the NBA. Sure there are people who are only baseball fans but this tournament has been designed to expand reach. I love baseball, but I love basketball too, and I would never, ever watch an inning of the WBC if an important basketball game is being played. And hockey is not an obsession of mine but I know plenty of Rangers fans. You can assume they do not even know the WBC is being played.
I know, the WBC is a world event, and there I go with my U.S.-centric view. But c’mon, if we don’t care, why would anyone else? But here is the thing; these conflicts are not just U.S. conflicts. Last I heard hockey is kind of big in Canada, and Europe. And then there is the big sport that has never quite caught on in the U.S. but rules the rest of the world–soccer. It is going strong right now. What soccer fan is picking the WBC over a chance to watch FC Barcelona? I’m not getting it.
I love baseball enough, however, to perhaps have faith that faulty scheduling could be overcome for the WBC if it did not have an even more fatal flaw. I will call it “the pitching thing.” Pundits argue all the time about what percentage of baseball success is due to pitching. Good luck finding anyone who thinks it is less than 50%. Because of this, the major league teams that have agreed to this thing have agreed to it with very strict conditions on how pitchers can be used. So strict as to make the entire tournament meaningless and ridiculous.
There is no reason to break down all of the rules here, basically this is a baseball tournament where pitching doesn’t matter. To compare it to basketball, it would be like LeBron only being able to play a quarter in a game maximum, and then skip a game or two. In hockey, Lundqvist could face seven shots or so and then it would be a timeout and on to the next goalie. In other words, it is not a competition at all.
So what is it? To me, sorry, but a distraction and a waste of time. Someone will win and it will prove nothing. In the meantime, I can either watch the Mets, or their best player David Wright unless I have six hours a day to watch baseball. I have picked the Mets, as I always do. Hopefully the U.S. gets eliminated soon so I can catch up with David.