The World Baseball Classic is neither Baseball nor Classic—discuss!
By Bill Smith
The World Baseball Classic (WBC) is not the Olympics. Instead it is the sports equivalent of the reality show Hole in the Wall. No one is watching it and no one really cares. The first ratings out for the TV coverage shows a rating of 0.4. There are more people watching an infomercial about a new grass seed that can sprout on a cement block.
The teams are not assembled from people that live and play in the countries they represent in the competition. A handful of major leaguers are split up as if it was a real live fantasy baseball draft. That group is joined by enough local talent to simulate a national team. Players even have the option of changing the national teams. If they played in the winter leagues in South America, they seem to have the ability to play for that nation.
While there is some talent on the field, even Major League Baseball teams try to get their players not to participate. They realize that no one is ready to play MLB quality baseball in early March. There is a very good reason that starting pitchers in the first spring training games go a maximum of 3 innings. Their arms are not prepared to go any further. The major leaguers aren’t ready and many of the locals never will be.
Some countries have very good baseball programs in their nation. The rest of the nations provide cannon fodder for those countries. While some of the games are near spring training quality, the locals could never make even an A level team.
Those players that do participate in the WBC can expect pulls, and other injuries that will cost them weeks on the DL and their teams the chance to get a good start in the real season—the one for which they get paid to play.
The excuse to play these games prior to the start of the MLB season is the growing popularity of spring training games. Even this excuse doesn’t hold water. Somehow, I don’t see people living north of the Mason-Dixon line that have suffered through one of the worst winters in recent memory taking their vacation in Toronto to watch these games. If we wanted to suffer Canadian winters, we would move to that country.
If you can’t wait for baseball, watch ESPN Classic or spring training games. The WBC is in my opinion a waste of time. Given the first TV ratings, a lot of other people think so too.
That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.
Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .
My email is [email protected]