Today officially marks the opening rounds of the 2017 edition of the World Baseball Classic. Ever since the inaugural tournament as a replacement for the Olympics , I have been a big fan of this event. For those who remember what Olympic baseball was like, it was a joke. Baseball was the one major sport where professional players were not given the opportunity to participate. Because this is not an annual event, it is still new to see our favorite stars in international play and it’s awesome… that is if they decide to actually participate.
I will never understand the guys who opt out of these kinds of opportunities. It is an honor and a privilege to represent your country and you all are going to act above it? I mean is spring training really such a big deal that these guys can’t spare it one year. I understand how much of a burden it is to get ready to play a full season of baseball by playing baseball.
The real culprits are the American players. Latino and Asian players don’t hesitate to play for their respective countries. Those guys are proud of where they are from and they understand how important it is to be an example for the youth from their countries. Americans take that sort of thing for granted. “Preparing” for the season is so much more important than taking two weeks to be a part of something that is so much bigger than them. Are we as Americans really that selfish?
I have seen headlines over the last few days saying that it may be the USA’s year to finally win it all. How are they supposed to do that with zero star pitchers? Name the top five pitchers in baseball: Kershaw, Bumgarner, Kluber, Sale, Porcello… they all declined the chance. They all felt that it would be too detrimental to their preseason development to show up.
Like previous years the U.S is going fall middle of the pack behind the usual suspects of Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Japan, and Puerto Rico. I get that being only its fourth go around, this is still a fairly new event and we shouldn’t take it that seriously but I do. It bothers me that other countries take an event that is hosted by the MLB on our own home soil more than we do. Hopefully, someday these athletes will understand the opportunity they have and step up instead of making lame excuses.