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Thread: Why the WBC is important

  1. #1
    Member Dwarftree's Avatar
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    Why the WBC is important

    A view at the WBC from someone outside the US:

    With all due respect, i think it is really saddening to see how the WBC is viewed in the homeland of baseball: the USA. I have read a lot of articles about the WBC on American websites and i have follwed the discussion about the WBC here in the Old Red Guard subforum. And the consensus seems to be more or less: Of no use. Get rid of it. And that would be dead wrong!

    You have the luxury that baseball is a natural thing for you. You grew up with baseball. You grew up with the legends of Ruth, Gerig, Mantle. You name it. You happen to see and play ball all the time since you were kids. That is not the case outside the US. At least not over here.

    While i fully understand the (mostly US) critics of the WBC (timing of the tournament during spring training, risk of important players being injured etc.) in a global perspective, the WBC is of utter importance to the sport of baseball. For two reasons.

    The first reason are the baseball fans and players in the countries where baseball is an established sport. Countries like Japan, Korea, Taiwan and of course all the Latin American countries. This is like the soccer world cup for those fans. Have you watched the games from WBC games from Japan or Chinese Taipei or Puerto Rico? The atmosphere was just amazing. You could really "smell" the importance that these games had for the fans over there. Due to work i had the pleasure to be in Seoul, South Korea during the first WBC in 2006. And whenever Team Korea played, there was basically a work stoppage. Everyone was clinging to a tv just to watch them play. For the semi final between Korea and Japan (that Korea unfortunately lost) they put up 2 or 3 giant screens in front of the city hall and about 50.000 or 60.000 people gathered there to watch this game. The atmosphere was absolutely amazing. Like over here in Europe when the soccer world cup is running. And look at the players. With how much passion they play for their country. Its just great.

    The second reason is further establishing the wonderful sport of baseball in what i call "baseball developing countries". I am from Germany. And baseball is basically a no show here. While i quit playing baseball a couple of years ago i am still visiting games of the "Baseball Bundesliga", which is the highest level of baseball being played here (the level quality wise is about low college level) and if you are lucky you have about 50-100 spectators watching these games.
    Over 20 years ago some buddies and me used to play catch in the park. And we had a s***load of fun doing that. As it happened we all completely fell in love with baseball and thought "Hey! Why not make this our sport? And since there is no club around here, lets found one!" Which we did. (coincidentally it happened to be the last German club our very own Donald "Knockwurst" Lutz played for). And from my own experience i can tell you: It is a really, really tough task to get a working baseball club up and running and, even tougher, establishing the club in a country that does not really care about baseball. Getting a field, finding sponsors etc. Not easy. Especially if you do that in your spare time.

    So with the one round of WBC qualifiers being played oder here in Regensburg, Germany i was sooooo happy to see that almost every game was a sellout. Tbh i have no idea how many spectators watched those games but compared to the normal "crowds" that show up to a regular German ballgame these numbers were just great for showing the public: "Hey! We play ball over here as well!" Plus, for more or less the first time we had live tv coverage of these games in German tv. Now a lot more people know that ball is played over here as well. And i really hope that this event might have opened some eyes.

    Please do not misunderstand that as me assuming that you US dudes are an ignorant or arrogant bunch. Not at all. I just was trying to open some eyes about the importance of baseball in general and the WBC in particular outside the USA.

    Thank you for reading

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    OnBaseMachine (03-11-2013), Tommyjohn25 (03-12-2013)

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    Re: Why the WBC is important

    I am with ya pal.....I love the WBC....I say be dammed with worrying about injuries.....I dont want to see anyone get hurt but if Votto gets hurt trying to win his country a title then I will respect his passion.....maybe I would changemy mind if that actually happens but I love watching these players from other countries going all out and playing like they are kids....you can see it in their eyes, they want to win and they have pride and they are proud to wear the uniform with their country on the front.....I LOVE IT. I just wish we could get more of our star players playing.

    BPhil is tearing up 2nd base....datdude is playing 2nd like its his last game ever.....

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    Chip R (03-11-2013)

  6. #3
    Wait... What? Vander's Avatar
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    Re: Why the WBC is important

    Wonderful post, and I agree with you on most points.

    I think the main reason why Americans don't pay much attention to the WBC is the timing. April 1st is almost a national holiday amongst American baseball fans, and April in general is almost like a month long celebration of the return of the sport we all love. Having the WBC in march is just inconvenient for two primary reasons.

    First, baseball fans are still in as much of spring training as the players. We're used to spending this time looking at prospects and praying that our star players don't pull anything. To ask the majority of fans to care about our national team when they're busy prepping themselves for the start of their team's season just won't work for most people (myself excluded). Secondly, the players just aren't ready for this. The pitchers are at a tenuous point in their training where they're still strengthening their arms for the season, so they're not ready to go all out, and the hitters are still trying to find their timing. Because of that, the results of these games are really not a good indicator of how strong each team is.

    Paul Konerko actually had a great idea when he said that we should replace the all-star game with the WBC and just have this thing in the middle of the season. Instead of rewarding the best players in the game with a meaningless little exhibition game, why not reward them with a mid season tournament in which they can play for their national pride?

    But ultimately, as counter-intuitive as this may sound, it may be a good thing that the Americans aren't all that into this. This may come off as arrogance, but if the Americans are playing at their full strength, then no one would have a chance. The fact that we're not so into it allows for Cinderella teams like Italy and the Netherlands to go into this thing actually believing that they have a chance. And if they have a legit shot at this thing, that increases the chance that the WBC will start interesting Europeans.

    But that leads me to my question for you: Is anyone paying attention to the WBC where you live? I know you're German, so you probably can't get an accurate picture of how the Italians or the Dutch are viewing this, but it would be cool to know that Europeans are finally getting at least a little interested in this game. I hope that since neither PSV or Ajax are still playing international football(even though the race in the Eredivisie is tight as hell right now), maybe some of those fans are taking some of that time to check out what their national team just did to Cuba... Twice!


    EDIT: And after I typed this, I checked twitter. Both "Cuba" and "#wbc" are trending in the Netherlands. Awesome.
    Last edited by Vander; 03-11-2013 at 12:41 PM.

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    Re: Why the WBC is important

    I personally have gotten into the WBC this year much more than I thought I would have. The US-Canada game yesterday was great fun, and I even watched some of the Cuba-Netherlands game before work this morning. The problem, like others have said, is the timing. Players, especially pitchers, aren't quite ready, and fans are invested in other sports like the NBA season and March Madness. As a true baseball fan, I care more about this than either of those two, but I can understand why this isn't getting as much attention in the media. I don't really see when else you can have it, though.

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    Member Dwarftree's Avatar
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    Re: Why the WBC is important

    I completely agree that the time the WBC is played is rather unfortunate. Players getting ready for the season, might have been traded to another team, getting to know their new teammates and the new system/style of baseball that is played there etc.

    On the other hand: When else to play the WBC? I love the idea of putting it in the timeslot of the ASG every 4 years. That would be awesome. All the players are in mid season shape and maybe not so many would pull out but instead would represent their respective countries. The issue with that would be though, that the MLB would need to stop playing for about 2 weeks because there is no chance you can pull off the tourney within one weekend. One could take the NHL as a great example. I donīt really exactly remember when the NHL decided to stop their league play for the time of the Hockey World Cup. But that would be a great example on how it could be done with the WBC. The sport of hockey, at least over here in Europe got a big boost from the fact that a lot of the NHL stars were participating in the Hockey World Cup. So why not do it with baseball?

    Does the sport of baseball get more attention in Italy and the Netherlands due to the success their respective teams have at the moment? I have no idea but i sincerely hope it does. Talked to my Dutch buddy the other day and asked him that exact same question. But since he does not care about baseball at all he couldnīt tell me. SO thats far from being representative. But i know for sure that the WBC qualifier tournament in Regensburg and especially the media attention made some heads turn here in Germany. (Tim Kurkjian mode on: "The other day i talked to one executive and he told me that the interest in the sport of baseball has really grown here due to the qualifiers in Regensburg. We have way more new kids showing up for practice than we did last year. Tim Kurkjian mode off).

    To the point Vander made about that it is a good thing that the US is not "all in" for the WBC so that other countries may succeed in the tournament ... Hmmm. I am not so sure about that. No doubt. The MLB is the best league in the world and a lot of the best ballplayers are US citizens. No discussion. The thing is: Would an allstar filled US roster really play their hearts out for that tourney? Would every American baseball superstar buy into that? Take the US baskeball team at the olympics or the world championships for example. On paper Team USA had by far the best roster every time. Did they win everything? Nope. So i think it really would be interesting to see how an Allstar US Team would do against Cuba, Japan or Korea from which you know that to their players the WBC means A LOT if not everything.

  9. #6
    * Bat Votto Second * goreds2's Avatar
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    Re: Why the WBC is important

    I love the WBC. USA plays tonight on MLB Network. 8pm est
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  10. #7
    Wait... What? Vander's Avatar
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    Re: Why the WBC is important

    Quote Originally Posted by Dwarftree View Post
    On the other hand: When else to play the WBC? I love the idea of putting it in the timeslot of the ASG every 4 years. That would be awesome. All the players are in mid season shape and maybe not so many would pull out but instead would represent their respective countries. The issue with that would be though, that the MLB would need to stop playing for about 2 weeks because there is no chance you can pull off the tourney within one weekend. One could take the NHL as a great example. I donīt really exactly remember when the NHL decided to stop their league play for the time of the Hockey World Cup. But that would be a great example on how it could be done with the WBC. The sport of hockey, at least over here in Europe got a big boost from the fact that a lot of the NHL stars were participating in the Hockey World Cup. So why not do it with baseball?
    The real question is, how important is the WBC to MLB? If they're not willing to sacrifice maybe 1.5 weeks (since half a week is already sacrificed for the all-star break anyway), then I question their commitment. And honestly, Selig has been trying for years to make people care about the all-star game, but it is essentially meaningless. Now, if you have a tournament for national pride in the middle of the season? That's completely different.

    To the point Vander made about that it is a good thing that the US is not "all in" for the WBC so that other countries may succeed in the tournament ... Hmmm. I am not so sure about that. No doubt. The MLB is the best league in the world and a lot of the best ballplayers are US citizens. No discussion. The thing is: Would an allstar filled US roster really play their hearts out for that tourney? Would every American baseball superstar buy into that? Take the US baskeball team at the olympics or the world championships for example. On paper Team USA had by far the best roster every time. Did they win everything? Nope. So i think it really would be interesting to see how an Allstar US Team would do against Cuba, Japan or Korea from which you know that to their players the WBC means A LOT if not everything.
    When I said "all out", I was assuming max effort, which I will grant you is not as likely as either of us may want. However, think about this potential line up and rotation:

    Lineup:
    1. Mike Trout CF
    2. Matt Kemp RF/LF
    3. Andrew McCutchen RF/LF
    4. Giancarlo Stanton DH
    5. Prince Fielder 1B
    6. David Wright 3B
    7. Joe Mauer C
    8. Troy Tulowinski SS
    9. Dustin Pedroia 2B

    Rotation:
    1. Justin Verlander
    2. David Price
    3. Matt Cain
    4. Clayton Kershaw

    Assuming they're all trying to win, who stands a chance against that? (As long as Torre doesn't force Prince Fielder to bunt )

    But really, that's besides the point. I really wouldn't care about who wins or loses. All that would be important is that the rest of the world is able to see what a great game this is. I feel like there are parts of the world where it's soccer or nothing. Nothing against soccer, but they're missing out on a lot...

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    The Boss dougdirt's Avatar
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    Re: Why the WBC is important

    Quote Originally Posted by Dwarftree View Post
    The thing is: Would an allstar filled US roster really play their hearts out for that tourney? Would every American baseball superstar buy into that? Take the US baskeball team at the olympics or the world championships for example. On paper Team USA had by far the best roster every time. Did they win everything? Nope. So i think it really would be interesting to see how an Allstar US Team would do against Cuba, Japan or Korea from which you know that to their players the WBC means A LOT if not everything.
    Baseball is just different than basketball. Every play is on an individual. You hit with yourself in mind. You field with yourself in mind. You pitch with yourself in mind. A SS/2B combo isn't not going to try and turn the DP because they want to score for themselves like you could see in basketball. There is no pick and roll move where you switch who you are defending in baseball. Simply put, you don't actually need teamwork in baseball to be successful like you do in other team sports. You aren't really relying on their cooperation to get your job done.

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    Re: Why the WBC is important

    Don't know if anyone is following this Italy- Dominican Republic game, but Edinson Volquez walked the first three batters he faced in the top of the first, leading to a 4 run inning for Italy. Sounds familiar

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    Wait... What? Vander's Avatar
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    Re: Why the WBC is important

    Quote Originally Posted by 90reds View Post
    Don't know if anyone is following this Italy- Dominican Republic game, but Edinson Volquez walked the first three batters he faced in the top of the first, leading to a 4 run inning for Italy. Sounds familiar
    And now he has calmed down after imploding. It's the same thing with him every game. He'll be brilliant for almost an entire game, but then he'll have that ONE inning where he completely loses it and takes the loss.

    You have no idea how happy I was when he was traded to the Padres.

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    Re: Why the WBC is important

    Right there with you. So glad he isn't a Red anymore.

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    Re: Why the WBC is important

    To the OP's point: I watched about 5 minutes of the spanish simulcast that espn had on the other night....................without realizing it was the WBC for the first couple of minutes. 1) its been 10 years since college...my spanish is rusty; and 2) the crowd was NUTS....like world cup of soccer nuts......kinda cool to see

  16. #13
    Member Beatlessp's Avatar
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    Re: Why the WBC is important

    To the OP's point: I watched about 5 minutes of the spanish simulcast that espn had on the other night....................without realizing it was the WBC for the first couple of minutes. 1) its been 10 years since college...my spanish is rusty; and 2) the crowd was NUTS....like world cup of soccer nuts......kinda cool to see


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