The World Scouting Classic

Hey, it’s not just cynical jerks like me who don’t like the WBC. Even those who are said to embrace it the most have their qualms:

But the off-the-field contest between the two most powerful ball-playing nations — Japan and the U.S. — is a subject that Japanese league administrators and team management, local liaisons, players’ union representatives and tournament officials prefer to discuss without being named.

That’s because the World Baseball Classic, billed as a springboard for further spreading the reach of America’s “national pastime” is viewed by suspicious insiders as something else: a fishing expedition and trial expansion by Major League Baseball, the U.S. organizer of the event. One Japanese sports professor and team adviser wonders aloud whether the tournament “is for showing the best of baseball to the world — or just making it easier for scouting the best that can be brought to America?”

As far as Americans are concerned it’s moot for the next four years, but I’m not even lying when I say that I’d be way more behind the WBC if someone came out and admitted that this was a big sham designed to grease the skids for even more foreign players to come to the U.S. and ply their trade in Major League Baseball. That would at least make more sense than a once every four years tournament even the biggest supporters of which acknowledge doesn’t pit the best against the best. Major League Baseball comes the closest to that promise, and it would be way easier to ratchet up the talent and competition of the Majors to where it approximates the optimal than it would be to rejigger the WBC for the next 16 years and fail miserably.

(thanks to Pete Toms for the heads up)

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  1. The Common Man said...

    But such an admission would probably keep Cuba at home.  I just don’t think there’s a perfect solution here that would change the tournament’s structure to a) guarantee the best talent in the world was interested in playing, b) inspire the individual nations to sponsor teams, and c) provide more than glorified exhibitions.  I’m all for tinkering at the margins, but I just don’t know how baseball pleases so many competing masters. And if it folds into the larger structure of MLB, I’m afraid MLB’s melting pot may dilute the uniqueness of Korean and Japanese and Cuban and Dutch baseball until they are indistinguishable from one another.

  2. Pete Toms said...

    Not often I say this, but somebody (Craig) is more cynical than me.

    I don’t see the creation of the WBC as a nefarious plot to syphon more international players in to MLB and MiLB.  Yes, there is that ancillary effect but I think it was created for the reasons that have always been advertised.  It grows the brand (I know that it’s not fashionable in the AIG era to use “brand”) beyond the US and it makes some money for the owners and the PA.

    I’ve barely watched it but I think MLB is happy with it.  It is HUGE in Japan and the numbers for ESPN (across all their media) have been very good.  It also helps that until the NCAA basketball gets goin it pretty much is the only thing happenin…

  3. ditmars1929 said...

    The WBC a big scouting tournament to bring international talent back to America???  Shocking!  Who the hell ever thought anything different?

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