Does the World Baseball Classic Matter?

Richard Hershberger

Richard Hershberger is a paralegal working in Maryland. When he isn't doing whatever it is that paralegals do, or taking his daughters to Girl Scouts, he is dedicated to the collection and analysis of useless and unremunerative information.

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6 Responses

  1. Ken S says:

    Great stuff as usual, Richard. On the particular issue you raise here, a better question might be “To whom does the WBC matter much?” I don’t see any evidence that it matters much to Americans. (Why would it; we already have 7 months of MLB featuring most of the best players in the WBC.) I would guess that it doesn’t matter much in non-baseball countries. (Is there a reason that there are teams from France, New Zealand and the Czech Republic other than to fill out the pools?) But does it matter to fans in Cuba, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic? That might determine its future.Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to Ken S says:

      I attended the opening round of the first WBC, back in 2006. We saw a round-robin between the US, Canada, and Mexico. While the US-Canada game was pretty routine, the others were enlivened by enthusiastic fans of Mexico, cheering, playing trumpets, and waving flags.

      The only other WBC game I’ve attended was the 2013 semifinal (not planned: it was in San Francisco, and a co-worker had an extra ticket) where the DR beat that perennial power, the Netherlands It was fairly subdued; I suspect it would have been more lively in a location with more Dominicans.Report

  2. PD Shaw says:

    Exhibition games are usually played with different rules and circumstances that reinforce the idea that they don’t really matter. So in the All-Star game, a future hall-of-famer will be replaced by a good player in the middle of the game, or a pitcher with a no-hitter removed in two innings. In the WBC, there are pitch count limits and probably some other features, befitting games that aren’t as important as the regular season.Report

  3. Michael Cain says:

    I’m going to be interested to see what the European soccer leagues do for the World Cup in 2022. To accommodate Qatar, the Cup was moved to November/December, taking four weeks out of many leagues’ schedules. The Cup schedule will also be compressed, taking out some rest days for the players.Report

    • El Muneco in reply to Michael Cain says:

      Im addition, many/most leagues in Europe already take a winter break. If it weren’t largely weather-dictated they could just shift the schedule, but that’s not likely to work out well in the northern parts. The Bundesliga, in particular, could end up with over two months without league games.Report

  4. Brent F says:

    Hockey also has a completely different talent dynamic, that Americans aren’t the biggest pool of players and isn’t the biggest power in international competition. So for the players themselves you have a situation where the biggest international competitions are amoungst the highest personal stakes moments in their careers. Part of this is the Canadians and Europeans growing up in a playing culture where playing for the national team was a big deal, part of this is for the Americans themselves the big moments of development of their sporting culture was internatonal play (1980 Olympics and 1996 World Cup).

    On the other hand, the American ownership of the NHL doesn’t particularly value the Olympics because they don’t get any of the revenues and would rather have something like the World Baseball Classic that they own and operate replace it. Hence the revival of the World Cup on WBC lines, but this didn’t have nearly the same cachet within the sport that the Olympics did.

    So I’d look at this from another angle. What becomes the greatest events in a sport are the ones that matter most to the players themselves. That inspires the going above and beyond efforts and the highest level of play, which in turn becomes the best events to watch for the fans.Report