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