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March 6, 2013
The Lineup Card
6 Ways We'd Change the WBC
1. Make it a Four-Day Tournament to Replace the All-Star Game
Why not just make the WBC an eight-team single-elimination tournament? It can be run in July replacing the All-Star break and game, and you'll get to see most of the same players—in midseason form. Pick two different cities on either side of the country to host the quarterfinals and semifinals and to exploit the time zone differential. On Day 1, there are two games at 1:00 and 7:00 in each park (or whatever works for TV). On Day 2, the semifinal games would be played at night. On Day 3, it's a travel day to the city hosting the final on Day 4, in prime time. —Russell A. Carleton
2. Make Qualifying Rounds True Double-Elimination
In all three other qualifying pools, it didn't matter, since the zero-loss team beat the one-loss team in the championship game. So apologies for this sounding like a homer rant. It shouldn't be surprising that a tournament that's ultimately decided on a pair of best-of-1s values expediency over having the best team win, but in the qualifying rounds, they should take the time to play one more game if necessary. —Zachary Levine
3. Make the Best Players Play
4. Allow Countries with No Baseball Experience to Participate
So I’m pro-WBC, but I’m not much more likely to, well, watch it than I am to tune in to a given game in the Grapefruit League (though I am hoping to see some WBC action on a trip to Arizona this weekend). There’s no easy fix for my apathy. I can’t come up with a solution to raise the stakes—the tournament will always take a backseat to the regular season—but I can think of one way MLB could make me want to watch: permit countries with no professional baseball presence to participate.
Yes, this would lower the quality of play, but that’s precisely the point. We all have plenty of experience watching bad baseball players play each other; most of us have been those players. What we rarely see is bad baseball players playing really good baseball players. That makes it hard to tell how good major leaguers really are, since they’re always squaring off against other major leaguers, or something close to it. Well, I’m sick of seeing supremely talented athletes throw 98-mph fastballs with movement to other, equally gifted athletes who somehow manage to hit them hard. Instead, I want to see someone look like me out there, cowering at the sight of Craig Kimbrel. And that’s something that can happen only if the WBC opens its doors to the cream of the extremely thin crop from countries that have hardly heard of baseball. Micronesia, come on down.
It’s a facetious suggestion, but it would work for me. If you’re still not persuaded, think of it this way: It’s the closest baseball could come to Cool Runnings. Feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme. Get on up, it’s baseball time. —Ben Lindbergh
5. No More Petty and Shallow Complaints About the Tournament
The exposure and spread of baseball is a positive for professional ballplayers, period. It means more leagues to play in and more money to make. Belittling the tournament because it's an "exhibition" and "manufactured" is shooting the sport in the foot. So let's stop. —Larry Granillo
6. Re-Name it the World Honkbal Classic, and Have Vin Scully Call the Action
First, as Ian Miller expertly pointed out on Tuesday, "honkbal"—the Dutch word for "baseball"—is tremendously awesome. If the tournament's broadcasters were required to mention the word "honkbal" several times per inning, I might tune in. But such a fantastic word deserves a fantastic voice to pronounce it. Thus, I propose that Vin Scully be given full reign of the World Honkbal Classic game-calling duties. Aside from allowing viewers around the world to hear one of the greatest broadcasters of all-time, isn't it fun to imagine the bits of trivia and anecdotes Scully might dig up for countries like Team Israel and Team South Africa? —Stephani Bee