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COMMENTARY: World Baseball Classic Has Changed Forever

Austin Darrow

The World Baseball Classic is here to stay, and the product will continue to grow after a shocking USA victory. Let’s face it, no one saw Team USA in the semifinals, and yet they’re now champions.

We didn’t really need them to win the WBC, to prove that players and fans are starting to care a little more, but it only added to the sweetness.

Let’s take a look back at how much the players perspectives have changed on this tournament.

The 2006 team: Roger Clemens, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Chipper Jones, Mark Texeira, Chase Utley are just some notable names on the roster. As usual the position players were pretty good, but the pitching was laughable and they didn’t advance past the second round.

2009 Team included: Jeter, Chipper, Roy Oswalt, Evan Longoria, Jimmy Rollins, David Wright, Ryan Braun, Dustin Pedroia, again good position players, some of them aged and on a decline, but the pitching was abysmal. They go to the semifinals and lose, but the attendance still wasn’t there.

2013 Team had the likes of: Joe Mauer, Rollins, Braun, Giancarlo Stanton, Wright, same story, different year. They didn’t make it to the championship rounds.

But then you look at this year’s team and see a different team. Chris Archer, Andrew Miller, Marcus Stroman, and a stacked lineup. This team was actually legit, yet we still didn’t expect them to do all that much.

Stroman, Tanner Roark and Archer just carry the load for the pitchers, by taking a couple of no-hitters to the 4th and 5th innings in some games. The lineup was just unblemished.

The outfield just wasn’t fair for Team USA, Yelich, McCutchen, Stanton and Adam Jones. You look at Twitter the night they beat the DR and then after they won the championship; the timelines exploded.

We all became fans and so happy to see this happen. So in 2021 I think we are going to see a lot more players want to play. Who doesn’t want to be a part of something for their country?

I can imagine there’s guys out there that are kicking themselves for not participating. They turned down this opportunity to play meaningless Spring Training games.

Team USA played in front of sellout crowds in Miami and Dodger Stadium and San Diego. The Spring Training crowds were a fun 2,000 fans, only caring for the first three innings when the starters play.

Like I said before, there’s more buzz about who’s not playing than how well they’ll do in the tournament. Not saying it would’ve mattered that Kershaw pitched in L.A. for that championship game, because Stroman dealt.

The chance to play with USA across your chest is something that is probably incredible. I can only imagine how great of an experience that was.

I understand these clubs don’t want their pitchers throwing a lot of innings in these games, because this isn’t the regular season, but I think it should be up to the players. Kenley Jansen wasn’t allowed for a second inning of relief in the semifinal, even after nine pitches. I think he knows how his arm is, not the owners.

The Rays had a limit on Archer and he was forced to leave in the first game way too early of a brilliant pitching performance. Than the schedule conflicted with each other and the Rays made Archer go back to Florida and pitch in a Spring Training game.

Than USA officials told Archer to stay home as opposed to joining them for the championship.

The ratings were great for the championship game, but just imagine how much higher they would’ve been if you didn’t need a subscription for MLBTV. Like I said MLB Network isn’t a subscription everyone has with their TV provider.

On top of it, ESPN2 airs the game, but it’s in Spanish telecast. The views would’ve been up if it was American telecast.

Also everyone on the East coast had to stay up till 1 A.M. to watch the final out. That’s absurd. The final rounds have to be played at a more legitimate time that younger kids and working people can watch it or move the games on the East coast. The most fun game was when it was in Miami.  

The WBC will never be the same again and Team USA is to thank at this. 2021 will be fun to watch, and I already can’t wait.

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