As World Baseball Classic Nears, Does Tournament Need Image Boost Stateside?
The World Baseball Classic begins next month, and the tournament "needs an image boost" in the U.S., according to Michael Silverman of the BOSTON HERALD. The "hype and attention to the WBC seems as if it’s at an all-time low in America." That will "change once the tournament gets underway and stars begin to contribute to their teams next month, but even if Team USA reaches the semifinals or finals, the enthusiasm tends to be ephemeral." MLB has its hands "full trying to make the event mean more than it does at a time when it has enough challenges making the game more compelling to the next U.S. generation" (BOSTON HERALD, 2/12). In Baltimore, Peter Schmuck wrote the Orioles "undoubtedly pay official lip service to the importance of baseball's global reach, but the event really isn't compatible" with the way Exec VP/Baseball Operations Dan Duquette and manager Buck Showalter need to prepare their team during Spring Training. The 17-day tournament will "create special challenges for an Orioles team that has two new pitching coaches and a new everyday catcher who was recently added to the Dominican Republic roster" (Baltimore SUN, 2/12).
TINKER TO EVERS TO CHANCE: In Chicago, Paul Sullivan wrote MLB's consideration of putting a runner on second base for extra innings is "crazy." There are "no good reasons for making such a major change to a sport that has survived and thrived as long as baseball has." Sullivan: "Don't think, MLB. It can only hurt the game" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 2/11). In Cleveland, Zack Meisel wrote the potential move "won't solve whatever issues the game may or may not face." Meisel: "Don't compromise the foundation of the sport, the core, fundamental thought and strategy behind how the timeless game is played" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 2/10). In Boston, Nick Cafardo wrote, "No! Please stop this constant tinkering with the game" (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/12). In N.Y., George Vecsey wrote, "Why this obsession to mess with what ain’t broke? Baseball already screwed up a hallowed sport by allowing the designated hitter. Now it’s got wild-card games. Gimmicks" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/11). In Las Vegas, Ira Stoll wondered if there is "anything that better symbolizes everything that is wrong with America today" than MLB's proposal. It is a "monument to character flaws such as impatience and laziness" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 2/12). In Pittsburgh, Paul Zeise wrote MLB is again "missing the big picture and tinkering with things that don’t need to be changed." Unlike pitch clocks, limiting mound visits, forcing hitters to stay in the batter’s box and other recent ideas, this latest one "makes absolutely no sense." This proposal "not only changes the game, it doesn't really make games shorter." Zeise: "There is no need to make a rule change because there is no problem to be solved." Extra innings are "not the issue" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 2/11). In L.A., Tom Hoffarth wrote, "Who wants to see another outcome predicated on more gimmickry?" (DAILYNEWS.com, 2/10). In Richmond, Wes McElroy wrote, "Good for MLB knowing it has a time problem. However, it’s missing the focus of the issue" (RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH, 2/12).