Because it’s a departure from MLB’s primary product, the World Baseball Classic comes with a ready-made supply of detractors, often those who want to keep things the way they were when they were young, and who are liable to see enforcing the rules against fielders obstructing the basepaths without the ball as an affront.
Robert Whiting expressed some valid takes in his recent Substack post “WBC title is great for Japan, but NPB needs to concentrate on enhancing its product going forward.”
His points, as I understand them, are:
- The lively individualistic approach exhibited by Japan in the WBC will not loosen Japan’s embrace of paint-by-numbers solutions to baseball situations.
- The WBC is fun, but it’s just an exhibition and doesn’t prove which team is the best.
- Japanese pro baseball could be so much better than it is, and that should be its focus to be better at marketing and building its product, and that the DeNA signing of Trevor Bauer is a step in the right direction.
In my last post, I addressed his principle point, that Japan’s baseball establishment needs to move forward from the WBC and not just celebrate. This time, I want to take on the question of whether or not the tournament is an exhibition.
“Just a series of exhibitions”
“It (the WBC) is just a series of exhibition games that in the end are just a series of exhibition games.”–Robert Whiting on Substack, March 22, 2023
This is an “it’s not my idea of a real competition, therefore it isn’t one” argument. I have to believe what he means by this is that the WBC games are nothing little more than preseason exhibitions ahead of the regular season.
However, the main attribute of an exhibition game is that its outcome is less important than the training value the players take from it or the value derived from the game’s contribution to a charitable cause.
Kyle Schwarber and Tim Anderson were asked about the nature of the competition. You tell me if they think it’s an exhibition.
Continue reading The greatest exhibition
“You’re not really tiptoeing your way through a spring training at-bat. You’re coming in, and it’s competing, it’s time to win. It’s kind of like that regular season where you know what? You’re getting your work done in the cage and you’re competing in the game. This is straight competition, go out there, compete, and the best man wins.”–Team USA’s Kyle Schwarber prior to the 2023 WBC final against Japan.