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Buck Showalter concerned about WBC participants, and finding a happy medium for the tournament
Up to 12 Mets will be leaving the club in early March for the World Baseball Classic
What’s Up with the Mets? 🍎
Mets manager Buck Showalter is concerned about those players on his roster participating in the World Baseball Classic (Newsday)
Keith Raad has officially joined the Mets radio booth, and Patrick McCarthy will fill-in for Howie Rose over the course of the season (Newsday)
5 days until Mets pitchers and catchers report to Port St. Lucie! ⚾️🌴
Where a happy can medium be found with the World Baseball Classic 📝
Make no mistake - the World Baseball Classic has proven time and time again to be good for baseball. It’s an exciting tournament from top to bottom with superstar All-Star teams from all around the world representing the entire bracket.
There are signature highlights circled around David Wright and his participation in the World Baseball Classic back in 2009, during which he was labeled, “Captain America,” for leading the United States to the semi-final round before dropping their bid to the eventual champion in Team Japan.
Then there was the unforgettable catch by Adam Jones against Manny Machado in the 2017 classic. Other stars are born during this tournament from all around the globe and its unquestionably an opportunity for players both domestic and abroad who may not have ever had an opportunity to shine to do just that on the world stage.
It’s also really awesome to see high stakes, meaningful baseball in early March and in many cases, in fully packed big league ballparks.
I was fortunate to be able to attend the World Baseball Classic in 2017 in Miami while working at Major League Baseball. That pool featured teams from the United States, Canada, Dominican Republic and Colombia. The greatest takeaway - aside from some of the best and most intense baseball I had seen in a very long time - was seeing Marlins Park (now loanDepot Park) packed to full capacity in what was an amazing cultural paradise. It was a different world of baseball in Miami during that period and for once, south Miami was about baseball.
MLB and the international baseball community unquestionably hit a home run.
However, for all the good the World Baseball Classic brings to baseball and the players who participate, there are the risks and consequences that come along with it.
Every club’s worst nightmare is that players ramp up way too quickly for the tournament and go max effort during a time their bodies aren’t ready for max effort baseball. They’re also afraid of the freak injuries that might take place outside of their supervision and what the impact of all of this could be on their club when the most meaningful bell for them rings on March 31.
Buck Showalter expressed such sentiments last night at the Thurman Munson Award dinner in Manhattan.
“You worry when guys start their clock up that quickly,” Showalter said, according to the New York Post. “But [the WBC] is good for the game, I am told, and that is the bottom line. It enhances our game globally and I support it, but I am looking at it selfishly from what’s best for the New York Mets.”
As is every manager and club executive throughout Major League Baseball.
My stance on the WBC has always been what I said - it’s great for the game, great for the players, and seriously fun and entertaining to watch. But I’ve also believed the timing of the event was bad for the reasons I mentioned as well.
Historically, Major League Baseball has run world tours and exhibitions of select stars in November, playing a series of exhibitions in Asia most recently. Of course, they’re just exhibitions with no stakes or implications so it’s a different animal to that of the current form of the World Baseball Classic.
But I’ve often wondered if the tournament was in November if 1) clubs would be more open to it, 2) more players would be more open to it, which would make 3) the tournament even better.
Certainly there are players who hobble to the end of the season and need rest and surgery to help their injuries heal for the following season. But in many cases, that’s an issue for players now, with Starling Marte and his recent core surgery serving as the local example of a player who cannot participate as a result.
Sure, an argument can be made football and basketball would conflict with interest in a November World Baseball Classic, but would it really? The tournament is on round the clock for two weeks, there are games now with peak interest on the schedule and others people simply can’t or won’t watch in mass for a variety of reasons.
Do those situations actually change in November?
Its just an idea to consider which could provide a happy medium for the players and the money makers in the event. There are pros and cons to November as well, but November might be the lesser of two evils people like Buck Showalter want to avoid altogether.
Hot Stove 🔥
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