The Filibuster

Despite the late-inning dramatics and clutch hitting by Team America,
the World Baseball Classic will be especially notable to MLB managers
because of the rash of injuries that has hit the players. With
important team leaders like Chipper Jones, Kevin Youkilis and Ryan
Braun suffering injuries, how do you think this will effect teams’
decisions to let their players participate next time around?

— Allen

tom cruise oprah.jpgA wise woman (my mother) once said, “Jeff, nobody’s perfect. Tom Cruise comes close but just look at how screwed up he is.  Still, Tom is about as close as you can get.”

The World Baseball Classic, still in its infancy, is similar in that it has yet to find the perfect balance of entertainment and logic.  We, the viewers, cannot expect it to be the perfect international tournament it aims to be — not yet at least.

There are naysayers.  There are those who feel the Classic is a colossal waste of time.  There are general managers and agents and players and pundits who see it as a liability more than an asset.  And I understand their points of view.

theo epstein.jpgIf I were Omar Minaya or Theo Epstein or Frank Wren and I was forced to watch my best players risk injury in the name of a “friendly” tournament with seemingly zero tangible gain, I guess I would be a little ticked off too.  But I believe the World Baseball Classic is more than just a King Bud money machine meant to get more people interested in Major League Baseball around the world.  To me, it is a showcase of the most talented players on the planet: a baseball bravura boasting a playoff-like atmosphere during the most boring weeks of spring training. 

And whether ballplayers are playing in the WBC or in Jupiter, Florida or with their kids at home, guys are going to get hurt.

guitar hero.jpgJust ask Joel Zumaya about his Guitar Hero hangup.

Or just ask Aaron Boone about his penchant for pickup basketball.

Or just ask Ken Griffey, Jr. about wrestling with his children.

And while the easy way out is to say let us put an end to this World Baseball Classic for good and focus on the regular season, players are still going to find ways to injure themselves on and off the field.  Personally, I would rather see a guy get hurt for his country than a video game.

The WBC only happens every few years, folks.  Eventually, the kinks will be worked out.  In the meantime, the foreseen benefits of firing up an entire baseball-following planet are far and beyond more plentiful than the occasional injury risks inherited by players, teams and front offices.

The truth is: baseball (yet again) was light years behind the rest of sports in not having an authentic international forum.  And while the rewards of the Classic won’t be seen for another twenty years or so when little Chen Jianguo and Mario Perugino and Ned van Flanders are all grown up and starting superstars in the Majors, I think we all owe it to the world to give this tournament a chance — and most of all, to enjoy it.

But just to be safe, we should all continue to pray to the baseball gods that our team’s best players escape injury free and refrain from jumping up and down on Oprah’s couch.

Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.




  1. Jane Heller

    I agree that players can get hurt tying their shoelaces. But when Selig says he won’t even consider moving the event to a different time of year, it makes me scratch my head. Why not try it in December or January when the players still have time to get ready for the season and fans are starved for baseball? Just try it?

  2. redbirdchatter

    I agree. Love the tournament. The fact that Team USA has been plagued with injuries while the other countries have not tells me that we were not really ready to play ball. That is something that can be fixed. The injuries don’t concern me. Of course, if Yadi had been injured, I might feel differently.

  3. katie22

    I completely agree, Jeff. All of this whining about the WBC makes MLB sound like a bunch of paranoid Little League parents. It’s embarrassing. I think there are some kinks to be worked out, but I also truly believe that this could be something wonderful that we all look very forward to one day. Hopefully, at the end of one, we’ll say “Wow, I can’t believe we have to wait four years to see this again!” and players will make sure that they’re in shape for it. I think the biggest problem is the fact that the teams weren’t assembled until the week before play started. That doesn’t work in any forum.


  4. iliveforthis

    Jeff- I think if you move the WBC, you also have to move the All-Star game. Despite not being an international forum, you still see your top players suffer injuries. It’s hard to decide when the optimal time would be for players in both the WBC and the All Star game. Put it after the WS and it’s a disadvantage to everyone who didn’t make the post season, putting it in January is hard as players work to prepare for spring training. Me? I love watching both the WBC and the All Star game, it’s just a matter of figuring out the optimal time to do that. Guess we’ll have to wait another four years to figure out what works best… (at least for the WBC).

  5. redstatebluestate

    Jane — Moving it might require too much thinking on King Bud’s part, something he’s not quite great at doing.
    Kathy — Gotta agree: If Yadi were on the line and got hurt I might have a different opinion 😉
    Julia — We must not have been cheering hard enough 😦
    Erin — You got on board too late!
    Melissa — As an Indians fan, it might do your guys some good to send Zumaya the new Rock Band World Tour game on PS3, yeah?
    Katie — Exactly. Korea, Japan, Cuba… those guys have been playing together for months now. A couple of measly weeks ain’t gonna cut it.
    Emily — The All-Star game is just one game, so I can see why the WBC poses a little different problem. Still, they do this in soccer and basketball, so why should baseball be so scared?

  6. mlbtribefan

    Injuries happen all the time. I guess the team wants to have a handle on the injury and feel like their hands are tied with this WBC. I guess they would feel the same way if the injury happened to the athlete anywhere outside of their control. If the injury is under their control, the treatment given would be monitored by them. Bottom line: Its all about the battle of control and who truly has it?

  7. redstatebluestate

    Very valid point, Aaron. Apparently the fans are never factored into this. I guess we don’t matter.

  8. Kaybee

    Great entry. The players can get hurt any way really, but I kind of feel like these players are pushing themselves too hard too early. Jake Peavy only had two outings in the spring before he went to the WBC. He’s such a competitor that I think he pushed himself way too hard. He was placed in a playoff atmosphere in March. I really hope this doesn’t hurt him in the season!

  9. redstatebluestate

    Kaybee — No kiddin’. Peavy didn’t look right to me. Too bad he didn’t get that last chance.

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