Thursday, January 15, 2009

2009 World Baseball Classic

Baseball is a long season. Pitchers and catchers report for spring training sometime around the the third week of February. If you are a member of one of the two World Series teams, you play up until Halloween. One hundred sixty-two games plus three playoff series, could potentially extend a season by nineteen games. Throughout the season, many players are banged up and some are so worn out by September, their performance suffers in the last few months of the season.

Because of the reasons mentioned above, I abhor the World Baseball Classic. March is a terrible time for it to be scheduled, due to players and pitchers building up strength for the season during spring training. Playing highly competitive playoff style games in March during the process in which most starting pitchers can barely throw 3 innings in a game is a prescription for trips to the disabled list. Building up a pitching arm for the long season is a gradual process, that shouldn't be rushed. Also, a team's season could be ruined if their star player gets hit by a pitch and breaks a wrist or tears up a knee sliding into a base, playing in this nonsense.

As a Red Sox fan, I'm not thrilled that David Ortiz is thinking of playing. Big Papi needs to take it easy and build that problematic wrist back up, not potentially aggravate it on a check swing. The Red Sox need him to be pre 2008 Papi. I am concerned about Daisuke Matsuzaka and possibly Hideki Okajima playing for Japan. The Japanese are legendary for their regimen of throwing a lot of pitches and overtraining. Will those players be following the Japanese training regimen or sticking to the John Farrell Red Sox sanctioned routine? The Red Sox two best players in 2008, MVP Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis, are both playing for the U.S. team. Up until last season when he broke the pattern, Youkilis was well known for wearing down in the second half of the season.

In terms of a world baseball event, the World Baseball Classic is great for marketing. However, for those of us who are fans of major league teams, we cross our fingers and pray that our favorite players don't get hurt or wear down late in the season from the effects of playing in the Classic. If I were to decide on a time to hold the event, I'd want it to be right after the World Series in early November. That way, players could treated it the way NFL players treat the Pro Bowl. They can back out if they're banged up or don't feel up for it.

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