In the wee hours of Saturday morning, righthander Chien-Ming Wang tossed six shutout innings to lead Chinese Taipei to a 4-1 victory over Australia. The 2013 World Baseball Classic is officially underway.
As the tournament kicks off, the sentiment from most fans I run into is that they view the WBC as a “big pain in the ass”. Some fans resent the fact that their team’s top players have bolted their Spring Training camps in Arizona and Florida just so that they can begin training and competing in the WBC. “What a damned nuisance.”
I beg to differ.
I believe the WBC should be embraced by MLB fans and players alike. It’s in the game’s best interest to promote our national pastime throughout the world and open it up to new markets for a variety of reasons. The least of which is uncovering new and brighter stars from an ever-increasing talent pool. We’ve seen this happen before.
In the history of baseball, breaking the color barrier in the late 1940’s and expanding the game to Latin America in the 1960’s did more to popularize the game and produce more stars than anything else MLB has ever done. The WBC can be another watershed moment for baseball.
In an interesting article about the this subject by Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, he mentioned that the WBC Championship Game in 2009, was the sixth most watched sporting event that year, drawing more than 82 million viewers world-wide. And yet fewer MLB stars will participate in 2013 than in 2009. Many of the stars who were invited to participate decided to opt out. Too bad.
Many Mets fans moaned yesterday when it was reported that David Wright had left Port St. Lucie to represent Team USA. Not me. I applauded him.
“Of course, I’ll miss being here and I’m sure I’ll have to catch up a little bit once I get back,” Wright said. “But for me, the chance to represent Team USA, to go play for your country, was something that I just couldn’t pass up. I had so much fun the last time. I wanted to do it again.”
By the way, before Wright left, he took care of business and lined a two-out single to plate Justin Turner with the go-ahead run in the Mets 6-2 win over the Tigers.
One more thing. Rosenthal makes a great point in his article when he said 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.
I’d like to express my thanks to Joe D. for posting this article for me on such short notice. It’s an honor to contribute to such a prestigious site for Mets baseball.
This Fan Shot was contributed by Robert J. Loewen.
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