Actually it should read Classic, my ass. I felt that my application of artistic license was a better title. This blog is about the World Baseball Classic, which is rapidly approaching, and my perspective as a fan and a fan of the Mets. Don’t stop reading if you are a fan of another team and just happened to stumble across this piece. It applies to you and I will enlist your input at the end.
2009 was the last WBC, which someday in the future it may be referred to as WBC II, if Commissioner Allan Huber Selig’s plan comes together. Selig speaking at this years Owner’s meeting was quoted as saying “ This is important. This is going to be the biggest World Baseball Classic we’ve had. If we do our work properly, you won’t recognize this sport in five years.”
Hopefully, you are not naive enough to believe the intent of the WBC is to globally showcase baseball to ultimately develop a World Series in the literal sense. Selig and the 30 team owners are not the Christian missionaries of 400 years ago spreading the Gospel among the heathens of the New World. The 16 teams scheduled to participate in March of 2013 know what baseball is even if many of them relegate it to minor status in their culture. The WBC is about money.
MLB is the organizing foundation of the WBC and profits from the sale of merchandise to the participating countries including the sale of its season telecast package on the MLBN (network). These profits generate 20-25 M dollars of revenue for each team annually. This year MLBN will telecast all the games from the venues in Taipei China, Japan, Puerto Rico and the US. The MLB revenues to the 30 clubs are expected to reach 50 M in 2013. This will make the Commissioner and owners happy. This windfall revenue will also drive player salaries going forward, making players and agents happy. The most important component to the industry of baseball, fans, will not share in the revenue windfall but will see the cost of going to a ballgame increase as team salary budgets climb to new heights.
Assessing collateral damage takes us back to 2009 and the fallout which may be
MLB’s cost of doing business.
The Mets had 11 players from the 40 man roster spread across the International spectrum.
Jose Reyes, (Dominican Republic) missed 126 games in 2009.
Oliver Perez, pitched for Mexico. His two outings lasted 6.2 inns. And he gave up 7 earned runs. When he returned to the Mets after 16 days, the undisciplined Perez had gained weight. He went on to make 14 starts for the Mets and pitch to a 6.82 ERA, 1.92 whip in 66 inns. Unfortunately Perez had signed a 3 yr. 36 M contract less than a month before the WBC. His total contribution to the Mets under that contract was 3-9 112 inns, 6.81 ERA and whip of 1.99.
Carlos Delgado, Puerto Rico. Despite a history of chronic hip weakness, Delgado played in the WBC. 25 games into the season went on the DL and had career ending hip surgery.
Carlos Beltran, Puerto Rico. Played a total of 81 games in 2009 as the result of a knee injury.
Francisco Rodriguez, Venezuela. K-Rod closed 5 of his teams 7 games. Team manager Luis Sojo, who was a low-level minor league manager for the Yankees, twice used him more than one inning. If he had done the same with Mariano Rivera, the Yankees would have fired him.
JJ Putz, United States. Saw his ERA jump from 3.88 in 2008 to 5.22 by late May. His last three outings were 1.1 inns. 9 hit allowed and 7 ER. He had elbow and forearm surgery and missed the rest (110 gms) of 2009.
David Wright, United States. Was kneed in the head and was removed from the game with dizziness. 2009 was by far the worst year of his career to that point.
There is not an absolute cause and effect relationship between the WBC and the subsequent injuries and poor performance. But the risk of introducing players into a playoff atmosphere after only two weeks of spring training is unquestioned. The Tigers are another team who had players injured. Please let me know of the collateral damage that your team may have suffered fueling Selig’s egomania.