The World Baseball Classic is the right move at the wrong time


On March 8-21, the fifth World Baseball Classic was held, ending in a 3-2 victory for Japan over the United States.

The tournament provides a sense of national pride for both the citizens and players of the 20 countries they represent, further promoting baseball around the world. For many countries, it generates revenue and promotes them on a global scale in sports in a way that they may not have many opportunities for. To put it simply, it’s a big deal.

In the U.S. however, the tournament has raised great controversy. Some do not see the point in it in general, but the main concern is that it falls right before the beginning of the MLB season. Not only does it take players away from playing with their teams, but many are also concerned about the greater risk of injury.

The concern of injury risk was validated after the injuries of notable players, like Edwin Diaz and Jose Altuve during the Classic. Altuve fractured his thumb and is not expected to be back until at the earliest May. The eight-time all star is a key player for the Houston Astros with a career batting average of .307. Diaz, widely considered the best closer in the major leagues, tore his patellar tendon during a celebration for Team Puerto Rico after a win over the Dominican Republic. He will be out for the entirety of the regular season after recently signing a five-year, $102 million contract with the New York Mets. For both the Mets and the Astros, concerns are raised over who will fill their spots.

The truth of the matter is that injuries can happen at any time. While the WBC games are played at a higher competitive level with more playing time for the players, players are still getting injured during spring training games. Most recently, Rhys Hoskins, the first baseman for the Phillies, tore his ACL during a game on March 23 while fielding a ground ball. Injuries are not an exclusive result of the WBC. Any time a player steps on the field, he knows that he is at risk of being injured. This is a risk that comes with any sport, but these players agreed to play in the tournament because it means something to them.

“We all care for each other and no one wants to get hurt, but we all love our countries and want to represent our countries,” Mets superstar Francisco Lindor said. “We have an opportunity to represent our countries and learn from our peers. It’s amazing.”

Injuries will always be a risk, but moving the World Baseball Classic to a different point of the year would help to reduce the negative impact of injuries on the regular season. Since the season ends in early November or late October, having the WBC in January would help to give enough time for players to still have an offseason and have enough time to recover from possible injuries without missing the entirety of the regular season.

Ultimately, if players do not want to play, they do not have to. Players get called to play and have the ability to turn down the offer if not interested. The World Baseball Classic is a great way to attract more fans to the sport of baseball and should continue to be played, but the timing of it is disadvantageous to MLB players. Moving the WBC to January would remove concerns of interfering with the major league season, while still allowing fans to cheer on their home countries.