Matt brought up a somewhat heated topic on Saturday in the World Baseball Classic. Like some of the comments that have been left here at Over The Monster, I agree and think this will be a very nice addition to the sport. There are three main reasons why I like the idea of the World Baseball Classic:
1. Generate more interest in baseball
Odds are, if you are reading this right now, you love baseball. More specifically the Red Sox. But there are people out there that don't enjoy baseball like many of us do. It's no secret that baseball doesn't get the ratings that football or even NASCAR gets. I believe that needs to change, and I think the WBC could do that.
With the World Baseball Classic being so international, there will be kids out there that can watch their country play a great game. Baseball in the Dominican Republic is huge. But it will be even bigger with all of their best players on one team, smashing the ball to all fields against other countries. Same goes for Canada, Italy, Cuba and all the other countries involved.
2. See international baseball
If you are a knowledgable baseball fan, then you know a good number of players on teams like the United States and the Dominican Republic. But how many of us can name 10 players on Cuba? Or 10 players on Chinese Taipei? I know I can't without a roster sheet in my hands.
Actually, to be honest, I was just on the World Baseball Classic homepage and they showed a picture of four members of the "A Pool" for each team. Who could I identify? Just Ichiro Suzuki of team Japan and Hee-Seop Choi of Korea.
Throughout this WBC, maybe we'll find some new, untapped talent. Maybe we'll find our new favorite player. Maybe we'll find one of those guys we just wished we had on our team. Maybe -- and this is a extremely small 'maybe' -- we'll find the Big Papi of Australia? A lumberjacking 280 pound first baseman made of muscle who hits dingers with regularity. Never know.
I'm personally excited to see other talent. I'm not sure how some of this teams will do, but it's going to be fun to watch the players and hopefully find some hidden gems. And you know what? I want the United States to be challenge in the WBC. I obviously want my country to win, but how great would it be to see South Africa give a team full of All-Stars a run for their money? Imagine this. Bottom of the 7th, Roger Clemens on the mound with the game at 1-1 and there's a full count on -- let's pull a name at random from the South Africa roster -- Bruce McCleland. He smashes a double, and the sweat pours down Clemens's face. A tough challenge? I hope so.
3. It's just great baseball
Whether you are proudly from New Hampshire in the United States (like me), or from "down under" in Australia, I think there's a strong chance you'll enjoy your country dukin' it out with baseball greats from across the world.
Jason Varitek at the plate, representing both the United States and the Red Sox, is something special. Having him face pitchers from South Africa, Korea, Dominican Republic is just as special. Will he play all out? Knowing Varitek, he will. Will all players go all out? Maybe not, but maybe so. We don't know for sure. Once they hit that dirt, they could say to themselves "I'm playing my hardest for my country." There's pride in baseball, and there's pride in what colors you are wearing. I think players will take that seriously.
The World Baseball Classic starts March 2nd. Personally, I will try to catch as many games as possible. Whether that be the United States or Chinese Taipei, I don't really care because it's baseball.
And baseball is always great.