The moment when spring training rolls around is one of the best times of year for baseball fans, but it is always a hot topic of conversation whenever the World Baseball Classic–baseball’s version of the FIFA World Cup–occurs, which is once every four years. The reason for this is, with baseball being such a large international sport, numerous players are leaving spring training to play for their countries, while others stay to get ready for the MLB season. But it shouldn’t be this way. Players should not be forced to decide between representing their home country and participating in spring training for the team for which they play.
The purpose of the World Baseball Classic is to promote the popularity of baseball around the globe, and many teams are not fielding the best teams possible. If the MLB is serious about the World Baseball Classic, then many changes need to be made–not just concerning the World Baseball Classic.
I understand that players could be hurt playing in the world baseball classic, but at some point some national pride should be shown instead of loyalty to money. Increased exposure to baseball would deepen the talent pool and choice of players available to play in the MLB, but would also create increased competition, which in turn would create global excitement.
The countries of players take precedence in the sport of soccer when the FIFA World Cup rolls around, with teams accepting the fact that the World Cup is extremely important to all of their players. This same attitude should take place in the MLB. In fact, when the World Cup rolls around, there should be some sort of accommodation from the World Baseball Classic and the MLB.
To solve the problem of playing in the cold winter months, the tournament should be held someplace with warm weather. Countries should take place hosting the tournament as well to create fanfare and increase international exposure to the game. The MLB is making enormous amounts of revenue in America, so now the MLB should try to expand its influence.
What is worse is that the most important games played in the MLB belie their namesake. The MLB World Series? Come on. The only international team now is the Toronto Blue Jays. It should be called the North American Series, considering that there are only two countries represented, much less the world. If baseball truly wanted to promote being an international sport, then they would try to form a team in Mexico and some in the Caribbean, where baseball is an extremely popular sport. I understand that the MLB is resistant to change, and owners wouldn’t be willing to give up some of their revenue to make expansion teams in different countries, but if this happened, it would be immensely beneficial to the sport of baseball.
Along the lines of expanding to other countries, baseball should encourage international play to other professional clubs. The games may not be extremely competitive due to the disproportionate talent gap within the MLB, but ideally, once baseball has become more popular, countries would be able to build up revenue and retain their homegrown talent.
Experiencing baseball through the eyes of the MLB, we are always seeing international players make headlines. But imagine living in the countries of these international players and never being able to see your childhood hero play in person. This is the problem with baseball being dominated by the US. Almost any player that is able to make it in the big leagues leaves their country to follow their dreams of playing the MLB. Playing for different teams in different countries is normal for most sports, but if baseball is to truly thrive around the world, then teams in other countries should be better able to pay for their own countrymen.