LOS ANGELES, March 24, 2013 — The World Baseball Classic has now officially come and gone with the Dominican Republic taking home the WBC trophy. Now it’s time to get back to spring training with supposedly no harm done and more than a few new dollars lining some already fat pockets. Except that there was harm done.
Hanley Ramirez, who was not playing shortstop for the Dodgers, but third base for the Dominican Republic in the final game of the WBC, left the game with an injury to his thumb. The extent of the damage was not known until a few days later.
It turns out that Hanley Ramirez has to undergo surgery on Friday to repair the damage that resulted from diving for a ball and he is expected to be out eight weeks. Yes, injuries happen and there is no possible way to know if this would have occurred just the same during a spring training game or not.
The fact remains that it did not happen while playing in a spring training game. The injury occurred while playing for the pride of his home country. Pride is a powerful thing, but one has to wonder why the Dodgers would allow him to play in the WBC when he was not even going to be playing his own position.
Hanley Ramirez was supposed to be the opening day shortstop for the Dodgers, but the Dominican Republic had him playing third base and Jose Reyes playing short stop. I highly doubt anyone really cares in the Dominican that Hanley will now miss eight weeks due to the injury. They got their trophy and the pride of the nation is intact.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are the ones left scrambling to replace their superstar shortstop. But will they also be left paying for the injured star’s contract while he is on the disabled list? The answer is, “No.”
All players playing in the World Baseball Classic are insured by World Baseball Classic, Incorporated. The Dodgers will be reimbursed for the amount owed to Hanley Ramirez while he is on the disabled list as a result of the injury sustained while playing in the WBC.
That’s good news, I guess, for the very deep pockets of the Los Angeles Dodgers, but the team and its fans are without a huge part of their team. It makes me question whether the WBC really does perform its stated purpose of expanding the global brand of baseball.
According to a press release from Major League Baseball, the 2013 tournament was the most successful WBC to date. This means that like it or not, the “classic will be back in 2017.” It does not matter that baseball is already popular in the countries that fared well in this year’s tournament.
Nor does it matter that countries, where baseball is not already popular, contributed little in the number of teams nor, more importantly, sponsorship dollars. What does matter is that an otherwise useless tournament generated a lot of money for those involved. The real goal of the World Baseball Classic is not to take something great and make it greater or more global but to take baseball and make it more profitable.
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