The World Baseball Classic has grown since the first tournament in 2006. With the revenue it generates and its global reach, it is here to stay.
The World Baseball Classic began this week, right in the thick of Major League Baseball’s Spring Training schedule. MLB fans checking out games in Florida and Arizona may be a little disappointed not seeing Paul Goldschmidt, Manny Machado or Francisco Lindor, but they are off participating in the global baseball tournament that started in 2006. Contrary to popular belief, this global tournament is here to stay, even with the schedule overlapping with Spring Training.
Popularity is rising for both fans and players.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred talked about the growth of the World Baseball Classic and its future. Addressing the rumors this would be the last year the tournament would run, Manfred pointed out some statistics that point to the contrary. In a two-week period, the Classic is set to generate $100 million and will be broadcast in 182 countries. The popularity has gone up, and there is still plenty of interest from players to participate.
The United States roster will be its strongest since the start of the World Baseball Classic. Besides the omissions of Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, the United States was able to bring on some of its biggest stars, including Goldschmidt and Giancarlo Stanton. Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic also have some of the best talent in the world on their rosters. With top talent like Machado, Lindor, Carlos Correa, Robinson Cano and others, the World Baseball Classic is doing well in the player department.
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Players not participating is inevitable.
There will never be a time when all of the best players participate in the World Baseball Classic. There will always be schedule conflicts and injuries that happen. With the Classic happening during Spring Training, there will always be someone who puts their MLB team over the World Baseball Classic team they are eligible to play for. That doesn’t make the Classic any less legitimate. Olympic basketball has had some of the best NBA players sit out. It is just how international play pans out.
Representation is valuable for the game as a whole.
The 2020 Olympics will be a struggle to find MLB player participation, which helps the World Baseball Classic in a sense. With the lack of participation in the Olympics and the rise of participation in the WBC, it shows how important it is to the players. When they decide to participate in the WBC, they show the importance of it. They want to represent their countries and it helps expand the game globally. They know they are the ambassadors the game needs.
The tournament puts baseball in the spotlight in countries where it isn’t the first sport. Italy, Israel and Australia will all be following baseball for a two-week span. That is something that doesn’t happen often in those countries. To expose those countries to baseball builds the sport around the globe. Europe and the Middle East don’t watch much baseball, but with the Classic it has started to become more prominent. The point of the World Baseball Classic is to showcase the best talent in the world so it attracts a global audience in hopes of exposing the game to countries where it is lacking. It is doing its job.
With the rise in participation, the money it generates and the global reach it has, the World Baseball Classic is here to stay. It has become better each year with competition and it will continue to grow. Its growth is necessary to building the game. Basketball has seen what international competition can do to reach markets it was previously not popular in. Baseball is finding out through the World Baseball Classic. It is good for the game and should be supported as such.