Thursday, March 02, 2006

All Baseball, All The Time

I am going out on a limb and making a few assumptions here.  Bud Selig and friends know the WBC is a joke.  Marquee players are dropping out at an astonishing rate, many of them citing inadequate time to get into championship caliber form.

Bud and his buddies list probably knew this would happen, especially since so many owners and agents have publicly if not privately expressed their reluctance to have their clients risk themselves for little if any gain.

Maybe what the lords of baseball really want is prepare us for a year-round sport.

We already have some semblance of year-round baseball if one takes into account the Winter Leagues, Fall Leagues, Spring Training and, of course, the regular season.  But these leagues vary significantly in their product.  Perhaps the model MLB is ultimately eyeing is professional football, with its European and Arena leagues complimenting the NFL regular season while going global.

Would that be a good thing, all baseball, all the time?  The blurring of seasonal distinctions?  No more looking forward to “pitchers and catchers reporting”. No Fall Classic if there is also a Spring time version.  In essence, the equivalence of fresh raspberries in northern supermarkets in mid-February.

Is that what the WBC is, the first stab at expanding the professional season by going global?

Overbuilding and over-expanding.

Baseball wouldn’t be the first institution to do that, now would it?


J. Weitzel said...

What is your take as a spectator, without considering the politics of it?

Simply from a fan's perspective, the WBC is still awful. It's the timing that bothers me most. It's awful timing. I want to watch Phillies preseason baseball in March, not Japan. And we've just come off a healthy dose of poorly-received world sports recently. Recovering from it actually.

When I was down in the Dominican, back in early January, that would have been the perfect time to do it. I would have been excited for it. It would have been a nice alternative to watching football.

It's amazing just how clueless Selig is.

Tom Goodman said...

All excellent points, Jason, especially the "just coming off" one. Indeed, that may really be the most important point: like politics, in the end all sport is local or parochial.

I don't have the slightest interest in watching a shabbily organized "world" event featuring less than the best players in many instances.

Oisín/Wizlah said...

Jason, I feel the same about January. timing wise, it's a better fit for the biggest leagues in baseball. it gives most players time to recover from the season, coaches time to prep their squad, and doesn't conflict with club commitments.

As for all baseball, all of the time Tom, I disagree. As used to baseball as the US (and some oversees) fans are, an out-of-season international event is good because it does become a clash of titans event that fans the world over can focus on. And it moves away from the yankees and red sox of the world - provides different storylines, teams not driven by an owner's money.

In terms of development, it becomes a benchmark for other countries - if you're playing every 3/4 years, you start to see how much further along your country's leagues are. It's noticable that it was the Japanese Players association, and the various MLB bodies who needed persuading as to how this was going to work. Everyone else is up for this, because they have more to gain. The established leagues and owners couldn't care less right now, and if it continues, they will always grump about risking players, insurance in case of injury and so forth.

As flawed as the set-up stands right now, I still want to watch the games, because I want to see how passionate the players get, and how good the quality of the smaller national leagues are on a international footing. I keep thinking to how proud abreu was when he won the home-run derby - is bobby going to bring that passion to playing for Venezuela? If he does, we'll get a good competition out of this.