Yeah, I know you don’t have time to sit down and watch a baseball game or two right now.  You’d rather tune into March Madness or surf the web on your phone.  There’s also a million other tasks to complete on your agenda.

But, if you’re a baseball fan, MLB is serving up something unique to you on a silver platter via the World Baseball Classic.

Besides the outstanding international players, compelling team rivalries, October-like passion, and thundering celebrations – baseball is back!

True, the best of MLB is not on Team USA’s roster.  There’s no Mike Trout, Bryce Harper or Clayton Kershaw.

What we do have instead is a damn good collection of players like Buster Posey, Chris Archer, Andrew Miller, Paul Goldschmidt, Eric Hosmer, Andrew McCutchen, and Giancarlo Stanton, among others.

Interested yet?

It is accurate that half of the WBC took place in South Korea and Tokyo (Pools A & B), making it almost impossible for us in the States to get into those games which occurred either very late at night or in the wee hours of the morning.

Still, schedulers put Team USA in “Pool C” which will play exclusively in the US through the finals, making it possible to view games before standard bedtimes (almost).

But, you’re right.  Having half of the tournament schedule take place oversees is a bit of a problem.  And, this is one area I think MLB ought to reconsider next time if it wants more Americans to tune in.

Yet, that’s not really the point of the WBC, is it?

The tournament’s goal is to feature the best international players in competition amongst “the greatest baseball-playing nations in the world”.

That said, it would help this tournament’s credibility (and future) if America cared enough to give it its due respect.

How MLB can start doing that (besides scheduling more games in this hemisphere), is to make it easier for us to get the games and understand what the heck is going on.

For example, I had to work pretty hard to comprehend the round-robin style of play and figure out when Team USA was actually going to compete.  This information shouldn’t be so hard to get for most of us who are too busy to be bothered.

I also suggest that the WBC appear on the major networks next time, and not just on MLB Network.  Do people who don’t have the sports package through their TV supplier even get this channel? (I wouldn’t know.)

Additionally, I feel a better attempt could be made to help Americans identify with Team USA, particularly if the roster is going to be filled with lesser known players from teams scattered all over the country.  A way to do this is to have MLB players wear their team hats like they do in All-Star Games.

If that won’t work, how about putting the stats about each player up at the top of the screen throughout the game, and not just at the outset?

Of course, if more high-profile players are out there on the field, it would help ratings, too.

Unfortunately, players like Noah Syndergaard don’t want to show up at the WBC because they only care about winning World Series and making into the Hall of Fame.

So, should MLB consider putting a bigger pot at the end of the rainbow to bait in more major-leaguers?

Or, perhaps it doesn’t want its best players competing in this tournament for fear they could be injured and it hurt the league’s bottom-line?

In this regard, it appears MLB is in a bit of a Catch-22.

Or, maybe not.

While the World Baseball Classic is not doing well in America as far as ratings, the rest of the world is engaged and that is good for baseball.  And, the sport gaining more popularity on a global scale is kinda the point.

Where Team USA Stands

If you’ve made it this far through this article, you may be wondering where Team USA stacks up at this stage in the tournament.

Well, they have made some costly playing errors and the bullpen hasn’t performed all that well.  But, their 4 starting pitchers (Stroman, Archer, Duffy & Smyly) have only allowed 1 unearned run in 17 1/3 innings in 4 WBC games (combined) and struck out 22 and had 0 walks.   And, the lineup has been pretty good.

It has been enough to get them to a 3-2 record and advance to the second round.  Tonight (Saturday), they have a chance to beat the Dominican Republic for a spot in the Semi-Finals.  Already at that stage are the Netherlands, Puerto Rico and Japan.

But, if Team USA loses tonight, they are out of the tournament.

So, come on, let’s support our team in this thing.  Tune in tonight (Saturday, March 18) at 10pm ET on MLB Network (if you can).

Source: WBC Bracket


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