Major League Baseball is once again forcing the World Baseball Classic down our collective throats.
For this, we can be most ungrateful. And this “Classic” comes from the same entity that gave us a tied All-Star Game, the designated hitter and day/night doubleheaders. I omit the time Major League Baseball took away Vida Blue from the Reds when Bob Howsam traded Dave Revering and cash to the Oakland A’s for the star lefthanded hurler. That arbitrary decision came directly from then Commissioner Bowie Kuhn.
The World Baseball Classic ( WBC) pits teams from various countries represented by players in MLB that come from that country. Its creation came about not only from MLB but from the International Baseball Federation and the Major League Baseball Players Association after the International Olympic Committee dropped baseball as an Olympic sport in 2005.
So far, Brandon Phillips has committed to playing for Team USA and it has been rumored that Johnny Cueto will pitch for The Dominican Republic and Team Canada is reserving a spot for Joey Votto. These games are to be played this spring before the regular season starts.
Not sure how anyone else thinks about this, but these are my feelings: Be careful Brandon, don’t do it Johnny, and no way Joey.
All of us remember what happened to Johnny Cueto in the first inning of the first playoff game against the Giants. The Reds organization can’t seriously want Cueto pitching in this thing. And with Joey MVP coming off not one but two surgical procedures on his knee last season, I can’t imagine any Reds fan, sane or sober, wanting him to play in these watered-down Olympics, either.
Willie Bloomquist on Team USA? No problem. Joey playing on the Canadian team? Please, God, no.
In case you forgot, Japan is the two-time Classic Champion. Television ratings in Japan for this event are the highest of all-time in Japanese television broadcasting history. Not so much in the USA. And you couldn’t have forgotten about the Cinderella story of the team from The Netherlands did you? Or that there are pitch counts (don’t care), mercy rules (don’t care) and all teams use a designated hitter (they can have it).
Play the spring training games, let Reds coaches look after Reds players, try and avoid injuries, fine tune our team and get ready for Opening Day.
Far be it that Reds fans are not patriotic and want the best of the best to represent Team USA. But this thinly-veiled attempt to conjure up a spirited international competition and sell MLB sanctioned jerseys generates no fervor in Cincinnati or anywhere else in the United States. It’s a well-intentioned idea that misses the target; there’s no “good” time to have these games played and we all know that there’s only one World Series champion and that winning city is either in the USA or Canada.
The World Baseball Classic, such as it is, belongs at the bottom of a long forgotten closet.