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?
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.
If 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.
Just 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.
From the 86 years of pure agony credited to the infamous Curse of the Bambino which included tumultuous yet exciting events such as the 1946 World Series, Carlton Fisk’s ’75 bomb, Bill Buckner’s mental lapse and the late-inning heroics of one Aaron “The One-Hit Wonder” Boone, to the most historically shocking comeback in the history of the world in 2004 to overcoming a 3 games to 1 deficit in in the ALCS last year only to sweep the hottest team in baseball on your way to winning it all — again… I have no idea how you do it, Boston — how your heart hasn’t leaped out of your chest and sunk through the floor, how you haven’t become a raging alcoholic nor eaten your children, how you haven’t been diagnosed with a severe case of jitteritis or how you have yet to set fire to the city of New York.
If I were you and I followed a team that knew no other style of play than the “force our fans to writhe and convulse in torment, exasperation and paralytic panic as we may or may not ultimately win this contest but we promise it will be interesting” I would, indeed, be a dead man.
Because, my fellow US Americans, I cannot take such stress. This is why every time Jason Isringhausen came in from the bullpen this season I immediately changed the channel. The pure uncertainty of his aging ability and his austere acuteness for blowing saves was simply too much for me. Often times I thought I would’ve been better off performing the Japanese ritual suicide rite of seppuku than watching him pitch late in a ball game, other times I just rammed my head into a concrete wall until I had the good fortune of sleep.
Dear readers, during the most stressful of times (i.e. close baseball games, first dates, election night) when my palms are sweaty, my brow furled, my pulse raging beyond control, I find myself resorting to the old habits of yesteryear already responsible for killing half of my family: nicotine, alcohol, the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric.
And that scares me.
Luckily for me, I was born in the midwest — far, far away from rickety noreaster accents and wild-hang-by-the-seat-of-your-pants baseball known as the Red Sox Nation.
Win or lose, no one knows drama like a Red Sox fan. And that’s something I do not covet — not one bit.
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.