The World Baseball Classic begins March 2, and was supposed to bring the finest players in the world together to determine the best country in a 16-country format. At least that was the idea. However, recently players have been dropping out of the tournament that was intended to display national pride and honor like flies. Every day big name after big name has said, “No thanks” to the Classic for a variety of reasons, ranging from a hurt toe to an upset owner. This leaves the first World Baseball Classic searching for star power, but not much time to find it.
It sounded like a great idea. Actually, it was a great idea until the owners and mangers of Major League squads figured out that the tournament would begin nearly two weeks after pitchers reported to spring training and only a couple of days after position players found their way to camp. Bad timing could mean a bad tournament for the Classic’s first time around, which depending on how it plays out, could be a one-time occurrence.
Just a few weeks ago the teams were stacked. Looking at the rosters, perennial All-Star after perennial All-Star appeared. Some of the stars included Vladimir Guerrero, Pedro Martinez and even Manny Ramirez. Now each of these players is gone for their own reason.
Every day players that once wanted to compete have decided that it just won’t work out, and just like that the tournament went from star-loaded to star-deprived. Sure, players like A-Rod, Derek Jeter and Ichiro are still participating in the competition, but it just isn’t the same feeling after seeing so many players pull out prior to the first game.
The main reason that the tournament was created was because of the diversity in Major League Baseball. It was intended to be a celebration of the diverse nature of the MLB. But now the greedy owners and managers have stolen that ideal, ripping the national pride right out of player’s hearts. For them it is all about the team. Apparently the team is bigger than the country to them.
Major League owners have guilt-tripped and probably even threatened players to the point that they don’t want to play for their country anymore. Why would the owners do that? For one reason and one reason only: money. The owners have taken the uniforms and torn off the country’s name and replaced it with money because that is all they see. Sure, players will miss a few days of a spring training that they barely participate in, and have the possibility of getting hurt, but come on, this is ridiculous. Players can get hurt stretching and Sammy Sosa has proven that they can even get hurt sneezing.
Owners can sit back and appear to act like they really care about their players. However, in reality all they really care about is their overflowing bank accounts. They look at these players and see money signs, nothing more and nothing less. I doubt they even see individuals when they look at players. They distinguish between players by the size of their money sign.
Money is all owners actually know. They don’t consider national pride or family issues, they only know about the cash. Owners want players for the regular season and playoffs, which is understandable but in a rare opportunity like the World Baseball Classic owners should understand and let their players play without fear of being threatened or bashed.
The reality of the situation is that right now the World Baseball Classic has all the necessary components to fail. Players are giving word that they won’t be participating by the hour, owners and managers are voicing their opinion that they don’t want players to play and as a result the tournament doesn’t have the marquee players to make this event what it was supposed to be initially.
Personally, I hope that, despite the greedy owners and players dropping out, this is truly a classic. It should be a classic, it really should. However, once again money and other concerns have ruined a special event. Maybe this will be a great tournament. Maybe the remaining players will make it one of a kind. For the sake of sports fans, especially baseball fans around the world, I hope the World Baseball Classic turns out to be what it was intended to be, a true classic.