Ten Ways To Improve The World Baseball Classic
By Scott Andes
I’m still really aggravated by the Hanley Ramirez injury. I know it’s just bad luck, but I still believe that if he hadn’t been playing in the WBC, it wouldn’t have happened. Which is actually true, logistically speaking. Since he did get hurt in a WBC game, which if he never played in, he wouldn’t have gotten hurt in the first place. Doesn’t that make sense? Hey I’m sorry you know. It’s annoying that we lose our starting shortstop for eight weeks after he tears a ligament in his thumb diving for a ball in the WBC championship game for team Dominican. What’s really aggravating is the fact that the injury to Hanley opens up the door for Juan Uribe to not only remain on the roster, but also not only be part of a trio of players who will rotate starts at third base, but it is a very real possibility that he could be the starting third baseman on opening day. That’s just frightening.
Mar 14, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Dominican Republic player Hanley Ramirez (13) heads to third base after hitting a solo home run in the second inning against United States during the World Baseball Classic at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
What annoys me the most though is that we were so close to my dream of having all eight starting position players in the lineup on opening day. Soooo close.
The other day I was wondering if the Dodgers were going to be reimbursed by the WBC for the eight weeks that Hanely will be unable to play. I was actually talking about this on twitter, when Buster Olney tweeted this out.
There it is. According to Olney the WBC is on the hook for about four million dollars of Hanley’s salary while he is on the disabled list. That should be at least eight weeks. The WBC provision allows for the insurance companies to pay out if there are injuries to MLB players. Do you think it’s fair the WBC is forced to pay Hanley’s salary ? I sure do. It’s only about four million dollars, but hey every bit of help counts.
That of course got me thinking. As I am sure you know by now, the WBC has some problems. The WBC needs a major overhaul in order to fix some issues. So how can we make the World Baseball Classic Tournament more equitable, and ultimately better for everyone? Here are ten ways to improve the WBC.
1. Please, for the love of all that’s holy, stop holding the WBC in the middle of spring training.
This is obvious. The WBC should NOT be held in the middle of March anymore. There is no reason not to have the WBC during the winter. That way it won’t interfere with spring training, and if any MLB players get hurt, they have time to recover before spring training. The best time to hold the WBC would be early November, after the World Series. You can play the games at warm weather sites. You would still be able to finish the tournament before thanksgiving. It works for everyone.
2. Make the first round a double elimination game.
Another lame rule of the WBC is the first round not being a double elimination. The second round is. Why not the first? Instead it’s a round robin format. I would guess the reason for this is to make sure to get that third game in. What’s weird is that the 2006 and the 2009 tournaments didn’t use this format. Remember, each team plays each other team in their pool once, so each team plays three games in the first round. If it were a double elimination, not every team would get to play that third game. Of course an extra game for each team, means more money, even if that third game is meaningless. There is no point for this. Make the first round a double elimination. That would eliminate the need for ridiculous tiebreakers. That leads us into the next suggestion, number 3.
3. No more Tiebreakers.
By making the first round a double elimination instead of a round robin format, you would not need any of these lame tiebreakers in place. The WBC has tiebreakers in place because with only three games played in the first round, many teams will tie. Since only the top two teams from each pool advance, you have to have some way to figure out who goes on and who goes home. The WBC uses, head to head games, run differential, and runs scored to break ties in the first round. With a double elimination round it’s simple. Win you move on, lose you go home. No confusion. No stupid tiebreakers. No whining. It’s all based on simple wins and losses. Everybody wins.
4. No more Mercy rule.
This one is really stupid. What is this little league? The WBC has mercy rules. No really, it’s true. If you don’t know, they have two in place in all rounds. If one team leads the other team by ten runs or more by the seventh inning, then the losing team must score by that half inning or the game is over. The second mercy rule also states that any team leading by 15 or more runs can win if still leading by that many runs by the fifth inning.
This is so retarded, it almost hurts my brain. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking it’s a rule to protect players from getting hurt playing in games that are blowouts. You’re also thinking it helps protect MLB teams as well. Sure perhaps. But if the tournament wasn’t held in March in the first place then these idiotic rules wouldn’t be necessary.
5. Remove the pitch counts
This kind of goes along with number 5. The WBC has pitch counts in place on starting pitchers for each round. There is a 65 pitch count limit on starters in the first round. 80 I believe in the second round, and 95 in the championship round. If we are going to have a real tournament, then there shouldn’t be any pitch counts in place. The pitchers are big boys and no the consequences of blowing out their arms during the tournament. Not having the tournament during the middle of spring training might help alleviate the worry for pitch counts.
6. Make all roster restrictions uniformed
Did you know that each country has different rules for how many major leaguers they are allowed to have on their rosters? That’s why you get some teams that only have two or three major leaguers, while other teams have like 15 on their team. It’s not fair. Every team should be able to recruit as many major leaguers on their team as they want. Make all of the rosters equal.
7. Improved Umpiring.
This is a big one here. The umpiring was atrocious this year all throughout the tournament. I know not all of the umpires were major league umpires. There were some minor leaguers calling balls and strikes. Still though, somehow the umpiring needs to be improved. Whether that’s done through using more major league umpires, or by installing instant replay, I don’t care. Just get it done.
8. Eliminate the seeding games in the second round.
The last game of each pool in the second round is what’s called a seeding game. The two advancing teams play each other in one last game to determine who wins the pool, and is the home team in the semifinal game. It’s basically pointless. You can always flip a coin, or even use a tiebreaker to determine that. It’s ok to use tiebreakers to determine which team is the home team and which is the road team. It is not ok to use them to determine who advances.
9. Don’t ever have Joe Torre manage team USA ever again.
This may not effect the tournament as a whole, but it would sure make team USA’s tournament experience a lot better. I’m sorry to say, but Joe Torre needs to stick with his desk job at MLB headquarters. The hall of famer came out of retirement to manage the USA team. He was terrible this year. Team USA didn’t make it out of the second round this year. They were knocked out by team Puerto Rico in the final elimination game of the second round. The tournament for team USA was filled with injuries, lack of run production, and tactical blunders from Torre. I know losing David Wright, and not hitting is what really sunk them, but Torre was not helping things at all. Between his blatant misuse of the pitching staff, risky defensive alignments, and constant bunting, it’s no wonder team USA lost. The bunting was especially irritating. I know Mattingly has his issues but yeesh, he is a million times better than Torre. Keep your day job Joe.
10. Please somebody take away those annoying horns.
Can somebody, anybody take away those obnoxious horns that all of the fans kept blowing on throughout the tournament. I have no idea what those things are, but they made the WBC sound like the World Cup. Enough!
That about wraps it up. Here’s the thing. I like the WBC, I really do. I watched most of the games this year and enjoyed them. The tournament always promotes Baseball globally, and all players should have right to represent their respective countries. As I said before, I enjoyed having some meaningful games in March, which is the only good thing about having the tournament in March. However, the tournament needs to make some adjustments, or lose more face with the fans. This has nothing to do with Hanley’s injury either. Baseball is not meant to be played in a tournament style. I know the College World Series does this every year, but that’s the exception. If the tournament can’t be done in a fair and equitable manner for all that limits the risk of MLB teams losing their players to injury, then what’s the point of having it all together? The regular MLB season should always take precedence over the WBC.
If the WBC doesn’t make some changes soon, then the integrity of the tournament will continue to be compromised. So WBC, come correct or don’t come at all.