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The Monday Flyby - Does OTM Care About the WBC?

We got two responses to the prompt. Two. That makes it easy to write about, but all the same, we’re hoping for better next week.

World Baseball Classic - Championship - Puerto Rico v Dominican Republic
The winners of the WBC win a neat trophy, and bragging rights. In 2013, it was the Dominican Republic that came out on top. Will they be unthroned in 2017?
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The people have spoken, all two of them, as very few people found themselves with a strong opinion (or much of any opinion at all) about the World Baseball Classic. We asked our readers to submit their take on the the event, whether for, or against. Seems, ultimately, that you decided “meh”, as a whole.

We’ll start with tomisphere’s “What you think of the World Baseball Classic depends a lot on who you are”. tomisphere seems to not be a fan of the WBC in its current form, at the least. Much like me, his concerns seemed to center around the Red Sox first, and nationalistic pride, second. I get the feeling this is how a lot of fans actually feel (anyone who agrees with that statement or disagrees should post in the comments below!), but no one really felt like talking about it.

His alternative global expansion model is similar to that of Richochet!’s, who will have his FanPost discussed momentarily. Essentially, tomispehere advocates for isolated baseball cafes, where major league games are more accessible, and easier to get a vested interest in.

Division Series - Cleveland Indians v Boston Red Sox - Game Three
Xander Bogaerts is the healthiest notable Red Sox player taking part in the WBC. With any lucky, he will return to the Red Sox in the same (or better) condition that he left us in.
Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Ricochet!, who has become a frequent FanPoster since the advent of FanPost Friday, has another well thought out take for us, this time it is “My Thoughts on the WBC”. Like tomisphere and myself, Ricochet! is not fond of the WBC, and proposes a plan to better accomplish the widespread globalization of baseball.

His plan isn’t far off from what’s been starting to happen recently. Televised games in foreign countries seem to be on the rise, a trend that will hopefully continue. But he proposes that MLB take more of an initiative in getting fans invested in a new generation of superstars, the Mike Trout/Mookie Betts arch-type of the world.

Ricochet! doesn’t like the WBC because of the unneeded risk to a player’s health. But he admits the idea of the WBC isn’t evil, it’s good intentioned, but poorly executed.

With so few entries this week, I feel it falls onto me to start a bit of a mini discussion. I’ve been going back and forth on the idea, and I’ve been trying very very hard to come up with a strong opinion about the WBC. I have found this very difficult, as my most powerful emotion regarding the WBC has been that of general unease regarding foreign managers handling our players who may be hurt.

You can’t trust, say, Omar Vizquel, to be looking out for the needs of the Red Sox. What does he care if our season is ruined because he threw Eduardo Rodriguez out there an extra inning? He doesn’t. A common argument, for those who like the WBC, is that the WBC and Spring Training games are happening at the same time, and that they’d prefer their guys go up against higher competition to better prepare them for the season. But there’s one key difference between a WBC game and a Spring Training game, and that is who is calling the shots.

Toronto Blue Jays v Boston Red Sox
Eduardo Rodriguez has been an exciting player to watch since he hit the big leagues. He’s scheduled to potentially take part in the second round (and further) of the WBC, pending health.
Photo by Rich Gagnon/Getty Images

Day to day, John Farrell is the guy making the calls. If an injury happens because a player has been overstretched, then Farrell is held accountable, and there’s transparency as to what the goal of the Red Sox is. But Omar Vizquel? If he is the manager when an E-Rod gets hurt, there is no accountability. What will the Red Sox do, fire him? It’s just impossible to force a national team to care about the concerns of a major league club.

When the WBC first came into existence, for its first try at a tournament, I watched most every game I could. It was different, and it had flavor, which is something Spring Training games were often missing. The more time passed, the more I realized I just really dislike the timing of the event.

Sure, the players might not agree to it, but I feel like the best time for the WBC is after the World Series. This way, if a player gets hurt, provided it’s not the worst case scenario, they will have time to get ready for the next season. I think it benefits the players, national teams, and sport more, if it takes place without any distractions or worries about standing, or being with the team when everyone is getting into their groove.

Boston Red Sox v Houston Astros
Hanley Ramirez was ruled out for the WBC with a sore shoulder, and fortunately, even though he’s missing time now, he should be ready for the season.
Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

In the end, I don’t like the WBC. I’m probably closer to disliking it, but I’m not sure I’m quite there, either. The WBC does have fans around the globe, and clearly has purpose to some people. But to those of us like me, who are biting nails over players like Hanley Ramirez, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Xander Bogaerts taking part, it’s just an exercise in pain. It’s never fun to trust another manager to keep your team in mind, and it’s even less fun when you consider there’s nothing on the line, except nationalistic pride.

How would I change things though, make the sport expand globally? Well the quick answer there is, I would seriously just change the timing of the WBC. The players might grumble, but there’s nothing forcing them to play, then or now. In the end, players who want to play for nationalistic pride will certainly be there, on day one, wondering how they can help bring glory for their homeland.

I’ll see you all on Friday, and hopefully this time, I can pick a better prompt for you all.

EDIT - 3/7/17 5:05 ET - Bloggy has submitted a post, a bit beyond the deadline for submissions, but one that is certainly worth a read. “I Care About the World Baseball Classic (but does the WBC care about me?)” As you will find out, if you open the article, Bloggy is Canadian. He would like to watch the WBC. Unfortunately, the most legal, and reasonable way to watch the WBC is blocked out for him, because he lives north of the US/Canadian border. The WBC should be about breaking borders, not raising them higher. Regardless of your opinion on the WBC, you should have something like this accessible to you in some way, shape, or form.