The second biannual World Baseball Classic is in full swing, and already the disinterest and speculation over its relevance is palpable.
Or maybe not. I have yet to hear anyone say, "Hey, did you see that big play in the Mexico vs. South Africa game at the WBC?" In fact, I haven't heard anyone talk about the World Baseball Classic at all. I haven't read it in the blogs, either. It just doesn't seem to be gaining a foothold.
Certainly that's no knock on the WBC. After all, there is a veritable media saturation of sports, leagues, players and everything else that goes with it. Adding one more event into an already stuffed buffet is probably not the greatest of marketing plans.
Nevertheless, there are ways to spice up the WBC. For instance, it seems as if one's country of nationality is no deterrent for which team(s) a guy can play for. Look at Alex Rodriguez - he was born in New York, raised in Florida and was playing for the Dominican Republic. Nick Punto was born in San Diego, raised in Mission Viejo and is playing for Italy in the WBC.
In fact, Hawaiian Shane Victorino was approached to play for Italy before the first WBC in 2007. The odd thing about that is Victorino isn't Italian. He's Portugese, Asian and Polynesian. In other words, American. He was asked to play for Italy simply because his surname sounded Italian.
So that gives me an idea...
If A-Rod can play for the Dominican Republic and Punto for Italy, why not just hold a draft. Open it up for all the nations kind of like that sketch from "The Chappelle Show" and let the players join the team that claims them. Let David Ortiz play for Italy or David Wright for China.
Since players can seemingly play for any nation even if they aren't a citizen, just go ahead and make it All-Star tourney. Hey, if they are going to make a joke of the borders and citizenship, why not make a joke of the entire thing?
Better yet, why not just have trades? Say Mexico needs a left-handed bat at the top of the order - why can't they trade for Ichiro? Hey, if Nick Punto can play for Italy, Ichiro ought to be able to play for Mexico.
Perhaps the best reason why the WBC is just plain silly comes from one of this site's favorite topics, Curt Schilling. As jingoistic an American as there is, Schilling says he would turn down an invitation to play for the U.S. (or maybe Norway, too) in the WBC because it's not fair to the pitchers. In fact, Schilling wrote in his blog, "38 Pitches," that if he were a big-league GM he would not allow any pitchers on the 40-man roster to participate.
... you just can't 'be ready' for until you are truly 'ready'. Until you've worked your pitch counts up, had a tough outing or two in the spring, stepping into a ML stadium full of fans ramps it to a whole new level.
If I were, and I know I am not, a GM I would have some sort of protection in contracts prohibiting any pitchers on my 40 man roster from participating.
I can't speak to position players because their lives and their preparation are so vastly different than pitchers, but I can tell you as a pitcher that the last thing on this planet I would want to do would be to be asked to go 'full tilt' (and make no mistake about it, what you are seeing from them is everything they have at that point) at this incredibly early time in the season.
So is the solution batting tees or batting practice pitchers? Should the WBC become just a glorified home run derby kind of like the one they have at the All-Star Game?
Maybe if they did it that way people would talk about it.
Nevertheless, the WBC seems to be one of those "good in theory, bad in execution" deals. Like Marxism.