Sunday, March 22, 2009

WBC | thoughts....



Some love it, some hate it, some don't even give it the time of day...
To be fair, the World Baseball Classic is what it is - a collection of very good baseball players engaged in international competition, tournament style. I couldn't find a "mission statement" per se, but this seemed to be the next best thing...
Q: Why conduct the World Baseball Classic?
A: The World Baseball Classic was created to provide a platform that will increase worldwide exposure of the game of baseball and further promote grassroots development in traditional and non-traditional baseball nations. The tournament's primary objectives are to increase global interest and introduce new fans and players to the game. The World Baseball Classic acknowledges and pays tribute to the tremendous growth and internationalization of the game.
Some have questioned various players and or teams motivation or lack thereof...
I have never been one to claim to know a players heart or drive - different players have different motivations - some, maybe most, are playing for national pride. Others for the love of the game, still others may find it a more intense, complete way to prepare for their professional season.

Still others don't seem to be too sure how seriously to take it...
While it is evident that most pro-athletes are very competitive by nature, I don't know that any of the players, no matter the country they play for, has any grand illusions that if they win this tournament that they are "the best in the world". If they win this tournament, they performed the best in this tournament. Just like the team who wins the gold medal in the Olympics performed the best in the Olympics and the team that wins the NCAA Tournament performed the best in that tournament. I'd even go so far as to say that the World Series winners are the ones that performed the best in that particular series (or three). Granted, to get to the WS a team has to perform at a very high level all season long, but I'm sure many would agree that it's not necessarily always the best team that wins the WS - it's a good team that gets hot at the right time.

As for the timing, likely the thing that has been criticized most...
I think it's good just where it sits. I'm not sure how it could possible work in the middle or at the end of the MLB season. What player is going to want to leave a team in the middle of a pennant race to play in a tournament? The break in concentration and/or momentum wouldn't be fair to their professional team OR their WBC team. How many players would be able to adequately represent their country in November when they are physically and mentally spent after a marathon season?

As for those who call "bogus" due to the fact that not all the best participate...
I would argue that, no matter what time of year they play, they will NEVER be able to assemble each and every "best" player. Various things, including team situations, personal circumstance and injuries, makes that an impossible task.

As a side benefit, while some of the best are representing their countries, it actually provides more playing time for those back at camp. Managers and coaches (and fans) get a better look at those who are vying for jobs than they might have had otherwise.

Are there improvements to be made? Certainly...
To be expected since this thing is only in it's infancy. Here are some topics likely to be discussed for the next go 'round in four years....
  • schedule exhibition games, especially in the earlier rounds, so players are constantly engaged and staying loose
  • schedule tournament pools in places with domes and/or retractable roofs (do I hear a vote for Safeco Field?!?!?) to reduce the risk of delays, postponements - not to mention injury
  • ensure that the players who participate are adequately prepared, not only to reduce their risk of injury, but to prove to the team they are playing for that they are ready, willing and able to give their best effort - mentally, physically and emotionally
It's a splendid idea in need of some tweaks, but overall seems to be serving it's purpose.

You go, WBC.

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