Tuesday, March 24, 2009

10 reasons the World Baseball Classic won't work in the future

As much as I liked the Classic, and want to see it succeed, there are a lot of reason why it might not. I think that would be a bad, thing, but it might if people don't stay interested. These are the reasons why it might not work in the future.

1. The format: this double elimination crap has got to stop. Japan and South Korea played each other 4 times, and then faced off in the final. Some teams played twice, and other played 4 times, just in the opening round alone. Australia played Mexico and Cuba, while Cuba and Mexico both played Australia and South Africa. It's not working, and they have to come up with a better format.

2. Major league baseball: if Bud and the boys aren't going to take it seriously, how do they expect anyone else to. Dictating the format, who can play, the days they play, the mandate for 'work' for those participating, not hiring a manager who will play to win; all signs that MLB is more concerned with promoting their new baseball channel than actually worrying about the Classic.

3. Pitch counts: idiocy at it's best. They pick an arbitrary number of pitches and a pitcher is pulled, unless he's in the middle of a batter. Which includes the first pitch to the batter. Ever see a 15-pitch plate appearance. What's the point? Then bringing relievers in in the middle of an inning, when the game situation doesn't dictate it? I'm not against limiting the work pitcher do, but it needs to be done by innings, not pitches. Give the managers reasonable options.

4. The players: if the best players in the world aren't going to play, then it's not really that much of a classic. Every league except MLB let their players go. The Asians started practicing in January. The major leaguers could do the same thing. Pick 50 players, start training early, play inter squad games and college teams, and they'll be game ready for the Classic. If the union objects, then make them the bad guys. If the owners object, make them the bad guys. Guys get hurt in Spring Training every year. We can live with it in the Classic also. But let the players play.

5. The schedule: some teams play back-to-back, and other's go for 3 days between games. The Asian teams had a 10-day break between the first round and the second round. Complaints about too much work for the MLB'ers, or not enough work for them? Again, are they going to take this seriously? Make a schedule where they play every other day, rotating between pools, with 2 days between rounds. Every one gets to play the same as spring training, and gets their work in. Increase the number of pitchers, if necessary.

6. Locations: it was played on 2 different continents, in 4 different countries, with the finals in a 5th one. Crap. Pick an area and rotate it. If it's in Asia, all the games are split between Asian cities, with enough time for all participants to adjust. See #4. It's okay for it to not always be in the United States. We'll still watch. There are lots of places that can host the entire tournament. Or make it a competition, and the sites have to met certain criteria to host. But it's a "World" Baseball Classic. We have the best league in the world. Let other countries see the best the world has to offer.

7. The rules: the pitch count, the substitution rules, the extra innings rules? It's not football. We don't change the rules at the end of the game to increase the dramatic aspect of the game. Baseball is played by the same rules for the entire game. And it's not a timed event. That's what separates baseball from football and basket ball. Scrap the pitch count in favor of innings. Declare a 40-man roster, with roster changes when necessary, but the injured player out for good, and use the real rules in extra innings. It's not Arena football. don't make it into that.

8. The United States: it's the "World" Baseball Classic, not the "American" Baseball Classic. As long as we continue to think the Classic breathes and dies on what America thinks, it's in danger. Lot's of different countries are involved, and lots of people around the world were watching and cared about the results. But all you hear in the American media is how it wasn't popular in the United States. So? Neither is Marmite. But lots of people around the world like it.

9. The pools: Cuba and Mexico play the African/Pacific teams, while Italy and Canada are in with the United States and Italy, and the Netherlands gets 3 Caribbean teams, while all 4 Asian teams play each other? Who picked this? Australia never had a chance, Japan and South Korea got to play China and Chinese Taipei, while Italy had to face 2 teams who made the finals, and another one made up of major leaguers? Either play by continent, or do a random draw, or something. But the seedings for these pools didn't work. At least not for me.

10. The fans: the perception is, for the Classic to be popular, Americans have to want to see it. As much as it shouldn't matter, the fact that MLB is showing the games, or ESPN, and there is prize money involved, means that people in the states are going to have to embrace the Classic. If American fans aren't interested, it will effect whether or not the Classic is shown on the major channels, or get relegated to secondary status. That, in turn, effects the ad revenue, which is used to pay for the entire thing. No American interest, no Classic.

Again, this is just my list. If anyone has any other ideas, please let me know.


Mark Runsvold said...

I think something needs to be done about the pace of the game. Why did a ten-inning, low-scoring final take nearly 4 hours?

Ron Rollins said...


Good point. I think that might come down to the TV time again, but I'm not sure.