BYU Wins Holy War

BYU Wins Holy War
George, like Collie and Harline before him, is now still open!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Mark's Thoughts: The World Baseball Classic is Here Again

What is not to like about the WBC?

Three years ago baseball started a great experiment. A World Cup style format to showcase the global interest in their game. The result was a success. The tournament had better than expected ratings. The teams were well represented (not including Italy which was a joke four years ago). The players seemed to enjoy representing their countries, and the atmosphere for the games were electric in some cases in 2006. The World Baseball Classic takes everything that is great about the FIFA World Cup and makes it better. The WBC does this by playing a superior sport. If the WBC is managed correctly, then the WBC could be an international event in the coming years that the world would celebrate.

The one great argument that opponents of the WBC constantly use is the affect of playing in the WBC has on players performances for their MLB teams, especially how the WBC affects pitchers and their performances. What is the difference between the players training and playing with their MLB teams for spring training or practicing and playing for their country during the same time as spring training? The biggest difference might be that the players who train for their countries will come into the season in better shape compared to the players that went to spring training. Is there a greater chance of injury for players playing in the WBC compared to meaningless spring training games? NO! The players have the same chance of injury in either venue, and both teams have a staff of doctors that wouldn't want to risk the future of the players by overplaying them.

Early March is a great time to hold the tournament. There is a dead zone in sports at the present moment. March Madness is right around the corner, but the end of the season is dragging to a close before conference tournaments. Opening day is still a month away. Then baseball is only intense for the first month before teams settle in for the long marathon season. The intensity only returns during the latter part of the pennant race. To have intense competitive baseball played in the dog days of March is just great timing.

Baseball fans can also follow the drama of who will represent which country in the tournament. The social and political pressure used by certain countries to get their players to play. There is also the insane pressure placed on team USA to not only win the tournament, but with the tournament convincingly! If the USA enters any baseball tournament second place is a huge failure.

Could the teams be better? Sure, a lot of the bigger names in baseball decided not to play this year. Yet, the baseball that was played three years ago was pure, intense and fun. If you missed watching the WBC three years ago, then be sure to watch in this year.

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