The Globe & Mail’s Jeff Blair on the possibility of future editions of the World Baseball Classic taking a markedly different form than the inaugural version.
One idea that has picked up steam in the last week is the possibility that the next event – and there will be one – will be split up, with Rounds 1 and 2 starting a week later in spring training and the semi-final and final being played during the All-Star break in July.
Baseball is sensitive to over-shadowing what it refers to as its jewel events, of which the All-Star Game is most assuredly one. But think about the impact of having the top four teams from the WBC playing over a two or three-day span, perhaps even in the same city that hosts the All-Star Game.
Donald Fehr, the executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, seems favourably disposed to the idea and the matter might be dealt with more substantially in negotiations on a new collective agreement. The current agreement expires in December and Fehr said there have already been informal talks.
“I don’t think this is the type of thing where we’ll have a formal announcement of formal talks, like the United Auto Workers calling a news conference or something like that,” Fehr said Sunday, before the U.S. played Japan at Angels Stadium of Anaheim.
Fehr also acknowledged that the next step in the expansion of the game will be the playing of regular-season games in Europe.
“Right now, baseball is a sport of the Americas and the Pacific Rim,” Fehr said. “We’ve talked about trying to do something over there from time to time, as far back as the 1990s.”
Fehr said that travel issues will remain one of the stumbling blocks, particularly when it comes to staging international games. But he quickly said there was one much more over-riding point:
“You can’t sell your product unless you show it,” he said. “If we’re interested in getting into Europe, we’ll have to play in Europe. We’ll have to let Europeans see it for themselves.”
Indeed, wait ’til they get a load of David Weathers. It’ll be like love at first sight.
An Associated Press item from earlier today indicates the San Francisco Giants are still planning to commemorate Barry Bonds’ passing Babe Ruth on the All-Time Home Run list, if and when such an event occurs. They just haven’t determined how they’ll celebrate.
It seems to this observer that it would only be fitting to have someone on hand for the occasion who provided valuable inspiration to the Sultan Of Surly during the historic chase.
Anyone have Big Mac’s phone number?