World Baseball Classic begins...hooraaaay?

The World Baseball Classic has begun, but who cares? Photo: An ebullient Yu Darvish, Japan AP

LOS ANGELES, March 4, 2013 — The World Baseball Classic has begun and I could not care less. Well, that’s not entirely true. I would care less if zero MLB players were playing, but that does not mean I am interested in any of the results. I only care that the participating MLB players do not get injured.

I care about the World Baseball Classic about as much as I care about “hockey on grass with a round black and white ball” or “soccer on ice with sticks,” for that matter. The “classic” does nothing for me. I will not lose sleep at night obsessing over why Joe Torre still cannot handle a bullpen should Team USA lose a game.

Yoenis Cespedes, Cuba  Photo: AP/Denis Poroy

I will not pace around the house gnawing on my fingernails while waiting for the next WBC game in hopes that Team USA can bring home the bacon. My mind will not go into a system overload while wondering if there are any possible moves Team USA can make to improve before the next “classic.”

Whether Andruw Jones brings the WBC championship “home” to the Netherlands is no concern to me. I simply will not care. I will, however, be annoyed that players who are getting paid millions of dollars to play for Major League Baseball teams will be skipping out on spring training to play for the pride of their respective home countries.

Spring is for saying goodbye to winter and hello to baseball, not world baseball, but Major League Baseball. Spring is for MLB teams to get their players ready for the season. Spring training is essential for a team to gel as a unit by being around each other before the games start counting.

I personally blame the Olympic committee for ringing the death knell for Olympic baseball back in 2005, while finding it necessary to keep immensely popular sports like handball and canoeing. I did not particularly care about Olympic baseball, but I certainly did not hate it. There is not much to hate about amateur baseball players playing for pride. I care more about Olympic baseball now that it is gone because the World Baseball Classic rose from Olympic baseball’s ashes.

I understand, in the most basic sense, the need to promote the game of baseball globally. I do not understand taking players from spring training to do so. Let them play in February if they want to use Major League players or let them play the “classic” without Major League talent.

People have been trying to make baseball global since Albert Spalding took his group of professional baseball players on his world tour in 1888. Face it, baseball will never be to the world what the ridiculous game of soccer is, and it does not need to be. All baseball needs to be is relevant here in the United States.

The amount of money paid to these players will always attract international talent. Sadly, the popularity of baseball here in America has been waning over the last two decades. This is the problem that should be addressed before we go trying to make baseball a global sport.

Major League Baseball is the only thing that really matters…in life. I am happy that they switched from having the “classic” every three years to every four years, but that is the extent of the pleasure I receive from the World Baseball Classic. I will feel no joy if the United States wins, just as I will feel no anguish if the United States loses, again.

Sure, this tournament is a great money making opportunity, and I suspect that is the real reason we are all forced to endure this. I sincerely feel more national pride when rooting for American teams in the Little League World Series than I do during the World Baseball Classic.

There may be people who want or need to make money from baseball being a global force, but the world does not need baseball. The world wants soccer, so let them have soccer. America may or may not need Major League Baseball, but this ‘Merican does, so stop messing with it.

Kevin J. Wells writes about Major League Baseball and punk rock music.  Follow him on Twitter @WellsOnBaseball


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Kevin J Wells

Kevin J. Wells was born and raised in the Los Angeles area in a town called Montrose.  He currently plays guitar for and is a founding member of the Los Angeles punk rock band Emmer Effer.  He has worked in a number of different career fields including Behavioral Therapy, Commodities, Insurance, and most recently a food cart in Portland, OR. Kevin has been both a sports and entertainment columnist and editor for The Washington Times Communities since January 2013.

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