MLB brand works against WBC popularity

The excitement the World Baseball Classic generates is felt throughout the baseball-loving world. In the United States, the wave of interest is mitigated by a breakwater, an obstacle MLB has nurtured through its branding of the American and National leagues as THE major leagues.

One Twitter wit, summed up the American fans who express vitriol toward the WBC as “People upset that a hard-fought meaningful worldwide championship interferes with practice for a domestic tournament that calls its North American winner the world champion.”

The detail about the non-North American baseball world that World Baseball Classic Incorporated’s broadcasters is now incredible, but it’s hard for MLB to spend 47 months and one week every four years, touting its brand as the world’s only major leagues, and then suddenly flip a switch and expect the consumers it’s brainwashed into seeing what’s so obvious, that baseball is far bigger than MLB.

Two voices Sunday were prominent in describing aspects of the tournament that set it apart. Mexico manager Benji Gil brimmed over with the thought of how the WBC puts a spotlight on a world of superb baseball beyond MLB’s mental borders.

“There are great stars on the Japan team. Unfortunately, we don’t know them as much of those stars playing in the MLB, and that’s why I love this kind of event because we have the opportunity that stars in their regions or in their countries become global stars,” he said. “Randy Arozarena, for example, is now a star in the baseball world. Korea, for example. Korea, they love baseball. Unfortunately, for them they didn’t make it to the quarterfinals, but many people in Korea are still watching the games and they will see the stars from Mexico, from Japan, from Team USA, and from Cuba.”

“The stars from Cuba, they have a great history, but even people in the United States do not know the Cuban stars. Now they will see the Cuban stars playing with the best players of the MLB. We wish them the best of luck for both teams, Team USA and Team Cuba, so that people know their abilities as individuals and also the abilities of each country.”

Former USA captain Adam Jones, a world travel and cultural connoisseur, spoke to that side of the equation a couple of hours before the U.S. faced Cuba in Miami.

“I went to the (football) World Cup. Fans love Real Madrid, they love Barcelona, they love PSG, they love Juventus. But, when you’ve got Italy vs France vs Spain vs the United States vs Morocco, it sits a little bit different. When you’ve got a country’s pride, culture, when you’re representing your heritage, your parents, your grandparents, the people who are your foundation, this is what this tournament represents.”

“Tonight is going to be a packed house with Cuba fans. Cuba fans are going to root for the Yankees or root for the Marlins, or their respective teams, but tonight they’ll be rooting for their nation’s players. That’s something different, and if you don’t understand that, there’s something wrong with you.”

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