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Friday, March 01, 2013

Rosenthal: Here’s why you should care about WBC

Wait, I’m supposed to stop watching every Peter Gunn episode (con continuous loony Ken Nordine tape loop) in order…for the WBC?

Here is a message for all those players, managers and GMs who view the World Baseball Classic as a nuisance:

Get over yourselves, and think about your sport.

Yes, the WBC is an inconvenience, a disruption to spring training, an extension of a baseball calendar that already is too long.

But the benefits are so vast, and the long-term importance so significant, the tournament should be embraced, not scorned.

The bigger this thing is, the greater the impact. And while the impact in the U.S. remains minimal — thanks in part to the refusal of many top American stars to participate — the WBC is breathing life into the sport internationally, giving baseball a global reach.

The elimination of baseball as an Olympic sport after 2008 left the WBC — which begins Friday with first-round games in Japan and Taiwan — as the biggest event on the international calendar by far.

“To globalize the game, you need events that will continue to motivate countries to get better,” said Robert Eenhoorn, a former major leaguer who is the director of the Netherlands team. “The WBC is this event.

“Everything starts with a dream and the dream should be to become the second biggest sport in the world (after soccer). The dream for every kid should be to play in the WBC for his country. The WBC is the catalyst to this dream.”

And beyond that, a necessary reality.

...So really, the U.S. loses on every level when its stars decline to participate. The reluctance of aces such as Justin Verlander, Clayton Kershaw and David Price is understandable, given the fragile nature of pitching. But position players such as Buster Posey and Prince Fielder? And youngsters such as Mike Trout and Bryce Harper? C’mon.

The WBC isn’t a nuisance. It’s an opportunity.

Everyone needs to put aside their self-interest and contribute to the greater good of the sport.

Repoz Posted: March 01, 2013 at 10:16 AM | 39 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. flournoy Posted: March 01, 2013 at 10:40 AM (#4378237)
Telling other people to put aside their self interest is an easy thing to do.
   2. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: March 01, 2013 at 10:50 AM (#4378244)
I like the WBC, because it's a chance for me to watch really good players from places like Japan and Cuba that I don't normally get to see.
   3. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 01, 2013 at 10:55 AM (#4378250)
I'm with Vlad, I like seeing the Japanese players and their style of ball. The Dutch team is usually pretty fun to watch too.
   4. RollingWave Posted: March 01, 2013 at 11:24 AM (#4378276)
Dear baseball god

please let Taiwan advance to the second round at least.

k thx bye.

   5. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: March 01, 2013 at 11:26 AM (#4378277)
I like the WBC because I like baseball. Exciting competitive baseball is better than exhibition baseball.
   6. JJ1986 Posted: March 01, 2013 at 11:27 AM (#4378280)
Are the games in the middle of the night going to be on MLB network live?
   7. Gamingboy Posted: March 01, 2013 at 11:39 AM (#4378288)
Yes, JJ, they will be, with the exception of an early morning (I think 6 AM EST) game between Korea and the Nethelrands, and that's only because of an overlap with another game.
   8. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: March 01, 2013 at 01:05 PM (#4378347)
This is only the 3rd WBC. We need to give it time. It's off to a pretty successful start so far.

One thing I'd really like to see is every 4th year doing an extended All-Star break so that the championship round (with the 4 games taking place over 5 days instead of the current 3 day break) can be played mid-season while the pool play and second round games stay in spring training. You'd still have people whining about potential injuries, but everyone would be in the swing of things and it'd give the final round an even greater audience. There'd be some issues with the pitchers needing to be available for the national teams, and I'm not sure how badly this would work with the schedule of the other teams, but it seems like it's a perfect fit. In an ideal world, you'd have some type of longer break (a week to 10 days) that all the pro-leagues could agree upon so that the second round can also be included.

I'm really excited for the WBC, I'm tempted to stay up all night tonight watching the first games even though I have to get up at 5:30am to catch a bus.
   9. valuearbitrageur Posted: March 01, 2013 at 01:14 PM (#4378352)
They should have played it in February, then maybe I'd have interest.

As it s, I can't get worked up over a tournament designed specifically to benefit the owners.
   10. Nasty Nate Posted: March 01, 2013 at 01:18 PM (#4378354)
As it s, I can't get worked up over a tournament designed specifically to benefit the owners.


What about the tournament that is the MLB playoffs?
   11. Bourbon Samurai in Asia Posted: March 01, 2013 at 01:33 PM (#4378370)
What about the tournament that is the MLB playoffs?


Or the regular season for that matter? Anyway, the WBC is great and I will be excited to watch this evening.
   12. Bob Tufts Posted: March 01, 2013 at 01:34 PM (#4378372)
"We want you to risk your health and long term career for our version of the future of the game. Trust me! It worked out well for Ray Fosse!"
   13. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 01, 2013 at 01:41 PM (#4378382)
Even the World Series is meaningless when you consider how infinite the universe is.
   14. Mike Emeigh Posted: March 01, 2013 at 01:41 PM (#4378383)
We want you to risk your health and long term career for our version of the future of the game.


This. The WBC is never really going to become the showcase that Bud Selig would like it to be as long as it's treated as something of an add-on to spring training; the reward is simply not worth the risk.

MLB could theoretically do it something like the Davis Cup in tennis (which of course would require shortening the regular season) - have the league take a week off four times a year, once for the qualifiers, once for the first round, once for the semis, and one for the finals. You could do the qualifiers during January, the first round in March, the semis in May, and the finals in July where you do the All-Star break now.

-- MWE
   15. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 01, 2013 at 02:01 PM (#4378400)
"We want you to risk your health and long term career for our version of the future of the game. Trust me! It worked out well for Ray Fosse!"
Well, it works in international soccer, and in hockey, and it's really started working in basketball. It's not a crazy idea. The players want to play for their country, for the same reason anyone wants to compete in the Olympics or whatever other international competition.

Echoing Jose above, the thing for me isn't that this is good for baseball in the abstract, it's that it's good for baseball fans, like me, in the concrete sense that it's fun. If the competition draws fans, and people start caring about who wins the WBC, American players will start taking it seriously. (That's the other thing. Japan is taking this thing very seriously, so there are a whole bunch of professionals who are totally into the value of the WBC.)
   16. Bob Tufts Posted: March 01, 2013 at 02:16 PM (#4378410)
Well, it works in international soccer, and in hockey


Soccer. A sports that is like peace talks, where everyone runs around, very little of substance happens, players feign physical or emotional injury, people get excited over the smallest movement and after the match both sides still want to kill each other (as an aside - I was a keeper in high school for three years!).

Hockey. A sport that needs international competition becuase it cannot survive in most parts of the US to which it expanded for the sake of a national TV deal.

MCoA is right. If the revenues can be extracted (much like adding extra rounds of playoffs for TV), MLB and the MLBPA will make it evolve into a more desired event. Baseball has sold its soul over many things - but they still want to maintain the integrity of the regular season 162 game schedule - and I agree with them.

Per my sentence above, who took care of Ray Fosse after his career was pretty much ended in a "friendly"? The MLBPA has a federal and contractural obligation to care for the players in the union regarding their primary job above all.

   17. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: March 01, 2013 at 02:22 PM (#4378414)
I really think the right time for this tournament is November, not March. I understand the concerns about working after a long season and you'd probably need a rule to allow playoff teams to be excluded but I think the benefit would be that if someone got hurt in the tournament they'd have several months to get healthy.
   18. robinred Posted: March 01, 2013 at 02:22 PM (#4378415)
But position players such as Buster Posey



Maybe Rosenthal should have used another guy as an example.
   19. Koot Posted: March 01, 2013 at 02:27 PM (#4378422)
“Everything starts with a dream and the dream should be to become the second biggest sport in the world (after soccer). The dream for every kid should be to play in the WBC for his country. The WBC is the catalyst to this dream.”


No. The dream for every kid who plays baseball is to play in the MLB World Series. The highest level of competition for this sport has already been set. No matter what they do, no one will consider the WBC as superior to MLB. Telling a kid that his goal should be to play in the WBC is like telling him to temper his goal of making the majors and dream of the day you can ride the pine in AA.
   20. Mike Emeigh Posted: March 01, 2013 at 02:41 PM (#4378427)
I really think the right time for this tournament is November, not March.


As I indicated above, the right time for this tournament would be to have the climax during the regular season, when attention is focused on baseball. I get what Bob is saying about the integrity of the 162-game schedule, but there's really nothing sacrosanct about it, and I don't see how the sport - or the players - would be hurt by chopping out two weeks of games for a Best of the World competition that could extend baseball's reach worldwide.

-- MWE
   21. cardsfanboy Posted: March 01, 2013 at 02:41 PM (#4378428)
I really think the right time for this tournament is November, not March. I understand the concerns about working after a long season and you'd probably need a rule to allow playoff teams to be excluded but I think the benefit would be that if someone got hurt in the tournament they'd have several months to get healthy.


I think they are going with the spring over the fall partially to avoid baseball fatigue. This way it's a bright new start to the season, versus it being just another series of games after the season ends. I agree for a health perspective it makes more sense to do it in November.

Per my sentence above, who took care of Ray Fosse after his career was pretty much ended in a "friendly"? The MLBPA has a federal and contractural obligation to care for the players in the union regarding their primary job above all.


It didn't hurt that he played for another 7/8 years in the majors after the injury, including an all star season the next year. Fosse had a career first half in 1970, but there is nothing that indicates he was going to be Johnny Bench in his minor league work or in his career. I think the Pete Rose injury is massively overstated.

He's a catcher who had a great year at age 23, got injured, played three more solid seasons(all with more games played than he had in 1970) and then the position caught up with him.
   22. Gamingboy Posted: March 01, 2013 at 03:04 PM (#4378441)
“Everything starts with a dream and the dream should be to become the second biggest sport in the world (after soccer). The dream for every kid should be to play in the WBC for his country. The WBC is the catalyst to this dream.”



No. The dream for every kid who plays baseball is to play in the MLB World Series. The highest level of competition for this sport has already been set. No matter what they do, no one will consider the WBC as superior to MLB. Telling a kid that his goal should be to play in the WBC is like telling him to temper his goal of making the majors and dream of the day you can ride the pine in AA.


Perhaps in the United States, but what of a player in Japan who is good but not good enough to reach MLB? Or a young Honkballer?
   23. Ron J2 Posted: March 01, 2013 at 03:21 PM (#4378452)
and in hockey


Only for the Olympics (or events like the Canada Cup -- which has gone away since the NHL players started to play in the Olymics). The World championship are run at the same time so teams start with random availability of their best players (Only players on teams that miss the playoffs or are eliminated in the first round). Almost by definition a very high percentage of the best players won't be available.

Pretty much all European players in reasonable health will accept an invitation to play in the Worlds. But the US and Canada rarely get even half of their invitees. It's very common to have a "who?" player on a North American team at the worlds.
   24. Steve Treder Posted: March 01, 2013 at 03:30 PM (#4378457)
It didn't hurt that he played for another 7/8 years in the majors after the injury, including an all star season the next year. Fosse had a career first half in 1970, but there is nothing that indicates he was going to be Johnny Bench in his minor league work or in his career. I think the Pete Rose injury is massively overstated.

He's a catcher who had a great year at age 23, got injured, played three more solid seasons(all with more games played than he had in 1970) and then the position caught up with him.


Absolutely correct.
   25. bunyon Posted: March 01, 2013 at 03:42 PM (#4378474)
There is no perfect solution. The WBC will never be as important as the World Series. But it could be a clear second, in which case you need to make it palatable to major leaguers.

I like the idea of doing qualifying in Spring Training, ditching the ASG, and playing a 8 team single elimination tournament at what used to be the All-Star break. Team rosters of 30 - so no pitchers gets overworked.
   26. Bob Tufts Posted: March 01, 2013 at 05:16 PM (#4378560)
From a 1999 SF Chronicle article:
http://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/Bowled-Over-A-collision-with-Pete-Rose-in-the-2919513.php#ixzz2MKD2WJt5

"I still feel it," Fosse says. "From time to time, I wake up and it's killing me."

Fosse, 52, does not dwell on the collision's effect on his career. At the same time, he wonders. How could he not? Fosse was only 23 at the time, a rising young star for the Cleveland Indians. He had 16 home runs at the All- Star break in 1970; he also put together a 23-game hitting streak in the first half of the season. That was only Fosse's second year in the major leagues, so he harbored grand visions.

Unable to lift his left arm above his shoulder without pain, Fosse hit only two home runs in the second half. His season ended September 1, when he broke an index finger.

Fosse played nine more years in the majors -- and won two World Series rings with the A's in 1973 and '74 -- but was never quite the same. The injury forced him to develop a less powerful swing; he never hit more than 12 homers in a season.

"If the play had not occurred, who knows what direction my life would have taken?" Fosse says. "I had 16 homers at the break. Could I have hit 25 to 30 consistently every year?"

The impact of Rose's cross-body block left Fosse with a fractured bone in his shoulder. But the shoulder was so swollen that night, X-rays taken at a Cincinnati hospital did not reveal the damage. So Fosse kept playing.

----


To combine with other threads, I guess it would have been OK for Fosse to take any PED's to restore his body to its original pre-injury state.
   27. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: March 01, 2013 at 05:38 PM (#4378601)
"We want you to risk your health and long term career for our version of the future of the game. Trust me! It worked out well for Ray Fosse!"

Guess I hadn't thought of this: Is the curator of the tournament MLB? Most international events are under the auspices of an international governing body -- e.g., FIFA for soccer.

If this is just MLB trying to get its players to play games with different color uniforms, to make more money for MLB, not only do the World Cup comparisons not work but the whole idea is kind of ... icky.
   28. Steve Treder Posted: March 01, 2013 at 05:47 PM (#4378603)
Yeah, I'm familiar with Fosse's story, and everybody likes Fosse. But the fact remains that Fosse missed exactly zero playing time following the Rose collision (indeed he caught every inning of the next 10 Indians games immediately following the 1970 All-Star break, including both games of a doubleheader, and hit .289 in the process), and he remained a durable and effective performer as a regular catcher for the next three full seasons.

It's highly likely that Fosse was just hitting over his head in the first half of 1970, and that the reason he began to break down at the age of 27 was that he caught one hell of a lot of innings in 1970-74. The Rose collision was just one of many ways he got beat up.
   29. Gamingboy Posted: March 01, 2013 at 05:54 PM (#4378605)

Guess I hadn't thought of this: Is the curator of the tournament MLB? Most international events are under the auspices of an international governing body -- e.g., FIFA for soccer.


It is technically under the IBAF (the baseball equiv of FIFA), not MLB, although MLB is involved with taking care of most of the logistics.
   30. DL from MN Posted: March 01, 2013 at 06:11 PM (#4378619)
Do the players get paid for the WBC? Like real money or is it spring training per diems? If you want the best players they need to pay them. Pay $150k for a tournament win and at least the younger guys will be interested.

<redacted, redundant>
   31. valuearbitrageur Posted: March 01, 2013 at 06:16 PM (#4378623)
As it s, I can't get worked up over a tournament designed specifically to benefit the owners.

What about the tournament that is the MLB playoffs?


Players get paid for that I'm told. Robothol shilling for the owners (and his own) interests just irritates me.

This tourney really belongs in January/February. Players have had a nice break, are already getting in shape, it helps fire up interest before the real season, and if anyone gets hurt they have a couple extra months to recover and hopefully get back this year.
   32. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: March 01, 2013 at 06:25 PM (#4378636)
Have a draconian major-league service time rule, to keep the vets from dominating and/or begging out. No more than 2 years in the majors - aim it at minor-leaguers. These guys play competitive games all through Little League, high school, and perhaps college. Then they don't see a non-developmental game until they make the bigs. Their best player gets promoted to another level (which has to sting in a playoff race), and a lot of the participants and coaches are baldly looking for that next job opportunity, not winning games. So bring in the kids and let 'em play. They won't beg out - it's a showcase like the Futures game.
   33. SoSH U at work Posted: March 01, 2013 at 06:31 PM (#4378640)
Of course, the proper solution to the Fosse situation isn't to ban friendly competitions, but to get rid of home plate collisions.
   34. robinred Posted: March 01, 2013 at 08:07 PM (#4378680)
Or, maybe just get rid of Pete Rose.
   35. cardsfanboy Posted: March 01, 2013 at 08:25 PM (#4378683)
Of course, the proper solution to the Fosse situation isn't to ban friendly competitions, but to get rid of home plate collisions.


Agreed. Simply ban the practice of blocking the bag, but swipe tags with a catchers mitt is going to lead to an increase in safe runners.
   36. rfloh Posted: March 01, 2013 at 08:27 PM (#4378686)
" This. The WBC is never really going to become the showcase that Bud Selig would like it to be as long as it's treated as something of an add-on to spring training; the reward is simply not worth the risk."


Funnily, the English, in soccer, back in the day, when they controlled it, used to have this attitude too. They disdained international tournaments, they disdained the World Cup, they disdained European tournaments, whether at country or club level. Even now, there are some idiots in England, even holding senior posts in the FA, who whine about how FIFA & UEFA "stole" soccer .

As someone who likes baseball, I'm really really really glad that Selig is NOT taking the isolationist English approach, the isolationist approach that the English used to use in soccer, and have used often in cricket too (as an aside, the way cricket is run internationally, is an utter disgrace). I'm really really glad that Selig is taking the Blatter approach. It is almost certainly driven by financial greed, but that greed is what will spread baseball.

Also, the Davis Cup comparison doesn't work. That's a team competition, in an otherwise individual sport. Furthermore, the governing bodies for the Davis / Fed cups, are different from the governing bodies for the pro tours. And it isn't as if the players necesarrily take the Davis / Fed cups all that seriously. The last thing MLB should do is look to the Davis Cupfor guidance.
   37. rfloh Posted: March 01, 2013 at 08:32 PM (#4378688)
" "

Guess I hadn't thought of this: Is the curator of the tournament MLB? Most international events are under the auspices of an international governing body -- e.g., FIFA for soccer.

If this is just MLB trying to get its players to play games with different color uniforms, to make more money for MLB, not only do the World Cup comparisons not work but the whole idea is kind of ... ick"

The reality is that MLB is the dominant organisation in baseball., with NPB being a distant second. The best players play in MLB, they get paid the most money in MLB. Thus, at least in the short term, the reality is that in international baseball, MLB calls the shots.

Soccer is different, given how popular it is globally, given that there really isn't any single country / pro league that dominates it.
   38. Bob Tufts Posted: March 01, 2013 at 08:35 PM (#4378689)
Steve - I'm not trying to be snarky, but how can unknowlingly playing with fractured bone in his shoulder not hurt Fosse's long term ability to play at a higher level?

The Giants loaded me up with indocin and butazolin and DMSO and I threw 175 innings and further damaged my arm as opposed to resting it and treating it for my long term health. It finally gave out in 1983 after I threw over 120 innings in relief in 1982 - once throwing 5 1/3 innings in Game One and 2 innings in Game Two of a doubleheader.

Like Fosse, I said nothing at the time- and my career suffered because of it - a torn labrum, rotator and capsule problems along with calcium deposits.
   39. Steve Treder Posted: March 01, 2013 at 08:45 PM (#4378692)
Steve - I'm not trying to be snarky, but how can unknowlingly playing with fractured bone in his shoulder not hurt Fosse's long term ability to play at a higher level?

There's no reason to doubt that it did. The point is that the weight of the evidence indicates that Fosse's overall performance following the Rose collision wasn't meaningfully different than the way it projected anyway, because his super-hot hitting in the month of June 1970 was likely a statistical fluke.

And the other point is that playing catcher is a rotten profession for the human body. What caused Fosse's rapid breakdown following 1973 was likely the result of an accumulation of injuries, certainly including the Rose collision but by no means limited to it, and perhaps not even largely by it.

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