A Call to Arms: Team USA Needs Star Power

Photo Courtesy MLB.com
Photo Courtesy of MLB.com

This piece is twice as effective when read while listening to Thirty Seconds to Mars – “A Call to Arms”; so I went ahead and attached it here for you.

 

Back in 2005 – just as baseball was being voted out of the Olympic Games; a new concept for an international baseball tournament – similar to that of the FIFA World Cup – was proposed to the International Baseball Federation. Just one year later, The World Baseball Classic was brought to fruition. At the time, excitement and anticipation over the idea of creating these fantasy-esque all-star lineups of our country’s home-grown professional baseball players was so great; it was practically palpable. In case you don’t remember, or if you just flat out think I’m lying; Major League Baseball was willing to drop big bucks for a Super Bowl ad, and that should tell you all you need to know about the amount of hype surrounding the inaugural event.

 

Shortly after the announcement of the first WBC in 2006, numerous all-stars and future Hall of Famers made their excitement and willingness to represent their respective nation public. The inaugural 2006 USA roster featured some big names – Roger Clemens, Ken Griffey Jr., Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Chipper Jones – to name a few. Although America was bounced in the second round of tournament play, if nothing else, this seemed as though it was just the beginning of something that could be very, very special.

Sadly, this would not be the case. Unfortunately, the willingness from American players to take part began to drop, due in large part to injury concerns; which in turn led to dwindling fan interest as the years went on.

Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesInitially set to take place every three years, after the 2nd
installment in 2009 it was then changed to every four years. The 2009 USA roster featured a powerful offense led by the likes of Jeter, Pedroia, Braun, Longoria, and McCann. Despite sporting a lack-luster pitching staff, Team USA was able to advance to the final round for the first and only time; eventually finishing Fourth. 2013’s USA roster was, for lack of a better word, pathetic in comparison. With all-due respect to guys like Willie Bloomquist and Ryan Vogelsong, they are certainly not the best representation of American ball players.

Japan celebrates their 2nd straight championship victory in 2009
Japan celebrates their 2nd straight championship victory in 2009

Now, here we are. The deadline to announce 2017’s tournament rosters rapidly approaching, and not one American superstar has even mentioned the idea of representing their country in the classic (besides a 2013 Bryce Harper interview in which he says “I think” he’ll participate in 2017). As a die-hard fan of the game of baseball, I can’t help but find it somewhat disappointing to see other countries not just outperform our American players – because that I can live with – but to see them be out-prided. For nation’s like Japan, South Korea, Dominican Republic, Netherlands and many others; this tournament is their World Series. An international stage to proudly showcase their nation’s growing talent pool. Sure, they have their own leagues and championships just as we do here in America; but they pale in comparison to the amount of revenue and worldwide media coverage that MLB receives.

Dominican Republic wins their first title 2013
Dominican Republic wins their first title in 2013

This is a call to arms.

I can no longer tolerate the fact that Team USA being the laughing stock of the World Baseball Classic is acceptable. For crying out loud, we made this game. No, not literally (despite the ever-so popular folk tale of retired US Army General Abner Doubleday “inventing” the game). But it’s because of America – more importantly Major League Baseball – that baseball is enjoyed and played competitively all around the globe.

 

Let’s restore our pride in one of our nations oldest and most endeared pastimes. Let’s raise the bar for international competition. Let’s set the standard of participation from our superstars (looking at you, Bryce).

If not for America, do it for the game; baseball deserves that.

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