Friday, March 8, 2013

For Team USA, it’s do or die at the World Baseball Classic

Now in its third event, this year’s World Baseball Classic has been publicized more for its criticism than its glory. At least that seems the case here in America. When the WBC was instated several years back, the tournament was meant to model the World Cup in that it should inspire global competition and unification through sport. However, it seems as though the WBC hasn’t been able to quite capture the attention of Americans as it was designed.

For many countries, the WBC is the chance to send its nation’s top baseball players to compete against the sport’s best from around the world. It seems that the mindset of competing nations is that of a “do or die” mentality. Due to a number of governmental and military provisions, for countries such as South Korea, this competition is its only opportunity to size up against many of baseball’s giants; and to do so on a global scale. In an on-going debate, the significance of the WBC for the United States is being questioned.

For members of Team USA, it seems as though the WBC is merely an opportunity to lace up their cleats and break in their gloves before the Major League Baseball season begins next month. Similarly, baseball fans in America have viewed the WBC as a sub-par Grapefruit or Cactus league. It is apparent that fans and players much rather focus on the MLB preseason than this “glorified exhibition”. Making recent headlines, players on Team USA have been quoted as stating that the WBC is nothing more than an “exhibition”. With a mentality such as that, it is no wonder past tournaments have produced 8th and 4th place finishes.

This year, manager Joe Torre has taken an unpopular route in selecting Team USA. Torre believes the key to winning the WBC is to field a team mixed with few all-stars and many utility players. A catch-22, Bud Selig wishes to popularize the WBC in the U.S. starting this year, yet that is unable to occur with this year’s lackluster USA roster. At the same time, Joe Torre believes that this strategic lineup is necessary in winning this year’s World Baseball Classic to spur an increase in fan support in future WBCs. The longer it takes for Team USA to win the WBC, the harder it will be for Americans to see the benefit in supporting its country in the World Baseball Classic. If the United States wishes to maintain its reputation as the mecca of baseball, it is crucial that Team USA wins gold at the 2013 WBC.


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