(above : bunch of delusional motherfuckers who don’t have the common sense to know their achievement pales in comparison to the outcome of the Big Sky Tournament final)
“I can’t see, if you’re a baseball fan, how you can’t get into this tournament,” insisted Team USA P Jake Peavy after his side’s 6-5 win Saturday at a noisy Rogers Centre in Toronto. “I can,” protests AOL Sports’ mascara fiend Jay Mariotti, ” When you’re a Cubs fan waiting for next year, a Yankees fan waiting for the new Stadium, a Red Sox fan waiting for the Yankees or a Dodgers fan waiting for Manny to be Manny, the WBC is a Wasteful Baseball Crock.” Presumably unimpressed by the Netherlands’ 2nd consecutive dispatch of a heavily favored Dominican Republic squad, Mariotti declares, “if people in the U.S. don’t care about the WBC, it won’t survive.” Sounds like especially bad news for the Rugby World Cup, then.
We are too sports-savvy in this country not to see the fatal flaws within. Simply, this is not a true test of which nation has the best team because the calendar will not allow it. With spring training in full swing and Opening Day only weeks away, fans are preparing for the season ahead and expect their premier home-team players to do the same. Many have done just that and dropped out of the WBC, leaving rosters diluted and, in some cases, less-than-worldly. Can this really be the ultimate competition when Albert Pujols isn’t playing for the Dominicans because of insurance issues? When Rodriguez is out after hip surgery? When Manny Ramirez’s monster bat isn’t involved? Or, from a U.S. perspective, when Josh Hamilton, Ryan Howard, Grady Sizemore, Mark Teixeira and Matt Holliday aren’t playing? And those are just some of the position players.
The biggest issue is pitching. Understandably, major-league teams prefer that their expensive arms aren’t blown out in preseason exhibitions, which explains the omission of enough elite pitchers to stock several All-Star rosters. How can Venezuela compete when Carlos Zambrano said no, when Johan Santana is fighting elbow soreness and trying to prepare for Opening Day? How does Canada have a chance when Rich Harden and Ryan Dempster remained with Zambrano in Chicago Cubs camp? Team USA, out to a fast start with wins over the Canadians and Venezuelans, dealt with the late double-whammy of losing closers Joe Nathan and B.J. Ryan. If everyone who bowed out authentically has an injury, then there’s a problem. And if some of the injuries were phony, then there’s a problem. It’s lose-lose.
So why go through with a World Baseball Classic if it’s only five-eighths legit? And even if every great player was on his homeland roster, how can the WBC be so arrogant to think it will woo viewers from the masses-and-gamblers fest known as March Madness, currently in progress?
Indeed, I’ve spent a bit of time in Japan during late March and it’s INCREDIBLE to see how the country essentially shuts down to watch the early rounds of the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament.
4 thoughts on “Mariotti : Stop The World (Baseball Classic), I Wanna Get Off”
Hey, I’m watching the Big Sky final. I’ve got two-pronged local interest, but hey, who isn’t fascinated when a losing team has a shot at the tournament.?
Offhand, someone who neither likes baseketball nor college basketball. Which includes neither present company nor a healthy portion of this blog’s
readership. I just don’t get Mariotti’s take that the success/failure of the WBC should be measured in US TV ratings, or compared to a wildly popular instituion such as March Madness ™. Who cares about the WBC? The question oughta be whether the games themselves are compelling. If so, someone, somewhere will give a hoot. That they might not be Americans makes their enthusiasm no less genuine.
Which basically makes it just like the World Hockey Championships, a respected and eagerly anticipated annual event. I’m sure if the WBC was concurrent with the MLB playoffs (as hockey is) he’d complain about the missing postseason players. And if it was mid-season he’d complain about it violating the sanctity of the MLB schedule.
Most people here probably don’t know it’s on. For me, it takes the place of Olympic Baseball, which doesn’t exist anymore. WBC is filling that void. That argument that the best players aren’t on the roster is as tired as when they use it to criticize USA Baseketball. Frankly, I don’t think Man-Ram could hit these Dutch pitchers. That’s the frigging underdog story of the decade (much bigger than the Tampa Bay Satan Worshipers). Luckily, a real journalist, Tom Verducci, has a different take on all of this. Plus, he has fabulous hair.