March 19, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; Dominican Republic designated hitter Hanley Ramirez (13, far right) celebrates with his teammates as the team hoists the championship trophy after the World Baseball Classic championship against Puerto Rico at AT

A Simple Idea To Improve The World Baseball Classic

With the World Baseball Classic coming to an end this past week, I feel it’s finally a good time (if, admittedly, not a little late) to give my idea on how to improve the tournament. To me, it’s a simple solution with scheduling. It won’t make it perfect but it could erase some of the grumbles and gripes.

Move it to the end of the season. Now, there are obvious issues to this plan. The first and most glaring is that baseball won’t want to compete against its own playoffs. And that is fair. In hockey, at the end of the regular season of the National Hockey League, the World Championships take place opposite their playoffs. First of all, the World Championships are every year which is completely different and the International Ice Hockey Federation holds the Worlds, not the NHL.

At the Worlds, it is limited to players whose teams do not make the post-season. It is not advertised as a best-on-best as many players choose not to go. However, you don’t have to worry about players being in game shape. They will be. And you will have players who will stay home to rest up after a long season. But you have players not stepping out of the Classic because of the effects it could have on a long season.

But it would help. Prospects would have this or the Arizona Fall League to go to. Minor leaguers would have no issue. Major Leaguers who don’t make the playoffs or get eliminated in the Wild Card Game could go if they want. You can even scatter games to not compete directly with playoff games. Because everyone loves day baseball, as much in March as in October.

I get that this isn’t perfect. But nothing will be until Major League Baseball holds it in the summer and holds their season for it. But by having the tournament at the end instead of the beginning means that the product will be better and fans who cheer for bad teams will have something to look forward to when the off-season seems longest.

You would still need pitch counts to protect pitchers but their arms will be ready. You won’t have guys who haven’t thrown a curveball yet or who are still stretching themselves out.

I think this is a small change, admittedly with some new problems, that will improve the overall product. Because something has to change if people want to take this competition seriously, or at worst, more seriously than they currently do. The need for baseball we all feel in March hides the fact that the product needs help and isn’t the elite display of baseball everyone wants to think it is.

As a Canadian, I loved watching the games and having that National pride. I knew that Canada was missing Erik Bedard, Ryan Dempster, Russell Martin, George Kottaras and Brett Lawrie among others, but I enjoyed it for what it was. A chance to see other guys step up for their country. I enjoyed the games and watched most of them. But I couldn’t help but think throughout that it could be so much better.

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Tags: Major League Baseball Washington Nationals World Baseball Classic

  • Brian McKeever

    This solution still does not solve the real problem with the WBC–that no professional team wants to see its pitchers placed at risk playing in it. Moving it to the end of the season just means that a tired out starter who has already thrown around 200 innings that season will be adding even more innings at a time when he will be at most risk of injury. So there will still be ridiculously low pitch counts (probably even lower than currently), which compromises the way the game is supposed to be played.

    The best solution is to limit the WBC to minor league and international free agents looking for an opportunity to impress (in other words to only those players not under any kind of contract with an MLB team). Then the games can be played the way baseball is meant to be played and in the spirit of a real international competition like the Olympics. Besides, we already see the MLB’ers play 162 meaningful games plus playoffs every year. How many more do we need, anyway?

    • Jared Book

      I understand your point, for sure. Maybe the solution (for teams with
      a lot of stars) is to have large pitching staffs. Not quite all-star
      game types, but have a guy come in, throw 65 pitches and have him go
      home. That way, you don’t have to tax one arm. The US pretty much did
      that anyways.

      Or, have scrub pitchers with star lineups.

      Really, there is no solution because Major League Baseball doesn’t want there
      to be. The NHL sends all of its best players to the Olympics and teams complain but the league gives them no choice.

      Does it have a position like pitcher that’s at risk? No. But it’s hockey. It’s
      physical. Every position is at risk. The league needs to take a stand or
      forget the idea of a best-on-best competition done half-way.

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