The Athletic website had a great piece this morning on how to “fix” the World Baseball Classic, and I wholeheartedly agree with it times ten.
Except the aim shouldn’t be to fix the Classic—which in my opinion is already great—but to fix Major League Baseball, which has sadly become a strikeout-plagued, rule-changed, unwatchable mess. What they propose is something astute baseball writers like Joe Sheehan have talked about for a while: swap out the boring, overhyped and irrelevant MLB All-Star Game every three years with the WBC in the middle of July. Work out the finances ahead of time to give MLB an extra cut in case a star player gets hurt—which WBC-haters mope about continuously—and watch the global baseball audience absolutely explode.
Rather than interfere with spring training and March Madness like it does now, the WBC would have its own stage for the short tournament, and the international exposure, if anything, would make Americans far more interested in the USA team, which this year has had some of the least enthusiastic crowds.
Did you watch the best baseball game in years last night between Mexico and Japan? Neither team would give in, as Mexico went ahead on a three-run blast out of nowhere by Luis Urìas, before a ridiculous three-run blast on a real good inside pitch to Masatka Yashida tied things up. Randy Arozerena of Team Mexico robbed a home run and made a few other sparkling grabs, and that was all before Japan quickly erased a 5-4 deficit in the bottom of the 9th on a Munetaka Murakami double into the left-center gap with two aboard after Shiehei Ohtani began things with a different double.
Check out this Japanese radio call and tell me that no one is into this thing:
The mobs attending the early rounds in Tokyo were insane, with cheerleaders on the dugouts leading sing-alongs throughout, and the crowds for the Spanish-speaking teams were all boisterous and more engaged than you would find at any American All-Star “classic” ever.
Enough already. Make the WBC a real global event by giving it the full July spotlight it needs. Unfortunately, because MLB can’t seem to do anything right anymore, I won’t be holding my breath.