By Tim Baffoe-
(CBS) Cue the inspirational horns and strings. Get Bob Costas cozied up near a fireplace in a flame-retardant turtleneck.
We are knee deep in World Baseball Classic mania, folks! Right? We are, aren’t we?
Oh, you’re largely apathetic towards the WBC, too. In fact, you thought “WBC” was a boxing term or that channel that featured the hilariously wholesome yet urban Wayans brothers. But bumbling buttnut Bud Selig is certainly going to try to make you care about this grand display of exhibition baseball.
Try as he might, Americans aren’t buying it. The only reason I had any inkling of anything going on in the WBC most of last week was because hardcore baseball people were tweeting about. Those being writers that either had to contractually cover the dog and pony show or those blogger/podcast pod people who treat any semblance of professional baseball as the last crystals of meth that they’re trying to lick off the pan while their stereo is at top volume and they’re wearing nothing but a bath mat they haven’t yet sold.
Part of my ignorance was also due to the programming. MLB Network is televising the games, and that happens to be a channel that doesn’t pop on my tube in early March, and I assume something similar for most of its other subscribers. As of 2010 55 million people had the network on their cable providers, and while it’s safe to say three years later that number has risen, the poor ratings have not. Maybe it’s not a perfect microcosm of the country, but I met one of the three friends I have at an establishment on Saturday, and of the eight TVs in the place, zero had the WBC on. Three had women’s college basketball.
As pointed out by Awful Announcing, “…[T]he way the WBC is being aired this year is absolutely ridiculous. In 2009, the ratings for first round games on ESPN were up 40% from 2006, and 90% in total viewers, and the whole tournament was up 10% in ratings and 14% in viewership. This year, all of the games will be aired on MLB Network, and the moving of one of the two initial pools from America to Asia assures that half of the first round games will take place when a majority of Americans are sleeping.”
Besides not the easiest of access, I have a bit of an active distaste for the tournament or whatever exactly it is. First of all, it’s exhibition baseball. Exhibition sports with professionals rank between people trying to justify their own racism and rugburns. I don’t want to watch pro baseball if it doesn’t mean something, and this doesn’t. Thankfully Selig made the MLB All Star Game matter—possibly the worst idea in sports since the Vancouver Grizzlies—and of course its ratings boomed. Oh, wait, no they didn’t.
More so, though, I genuinely hate international competitions like this. Sorry if the Olympics stir up some lame pride in you, but they’re not my cup of jingoism. I’ve grown to not care if my country’s professional athletes are better than your country’s professional athletes, especially when so many of my country’s professional athletes are your country’s professional athletes today. “But the players really want to win for their country!” Right. So are you prepared to hang American turncoats Anthony Rizzo and Adrian Gonzalez for treason?
Your “national pride” arguments can go kick rocks. This is a way to make money off of the excitement of the looming MLB season that Spring Training doesn’t otherwise bring in.
“But look how bad they want to win! Look at the brawl between Canada and Mexico!” That wasn’t about winning so much as it was about dumb “guy code.” World Baseball Classic, Inc. released a statement saying, “We are extremely disappointed in the bench-clearing incident that marred the conclusion of today’s game between Canada and Mexico. The episode runs counter to the spirit of sportsmanship and respectful competition for which the World Baseball Classic has stood throughout its history. After communicating with both the Mexican and Canadian baseball federations this evening, we are aware of the perspectives held by both sides in a competitive environment. Nevertheless, we relayed to both teams that such an altercation is inappropriate under any circumstances and has no place in baseball. Because at least one club – and potentially both – will not advance to the second round, WBCI has determined that disciplinary measures would not have a meaningful corrective impact. Thus, discipline will not be imposed beyond today’s seven game ejections. It is our firm expectation that the members of Team Mexico, Team Canada and all the tournament’s participating teams will learn from this incident and set a better example – one that befits the sport they share – in the future.”
What that statement fails to mention is how much the suits over there are high-fiving one another over the buzz created and the subsequent bump in ratings the brawl generated. In other words, we’re not suspending guys for actually helping us out. What does it say about your little even, though, when it takes a fight to get the average fan talking?
Maybe the people that fill Selig’s sippy cup will come around to understanding that you shouldn’t soccer-ize baseball. I guess I just don’t feel obligated to watch an exhibition of a sport I otherwise enjoy greatly just because “baseball is baseball.” Give me the pros working for their paychecks, the best competing against the best. And also the Cubs.
Tim Baffoe attended the University of Iowa and Governors State University and began blogging at The Score after winning the 2011 Pepsi Max Score Search. He enjoys writing things about stuff, but not so much stuff about things. When not writing for 670TheScore.com, Tim corrupts America’s youth as a high school English teacher and provides a great service to his South Side community delivering pizzas (please tip him and his colleagues well). You can follow Tim’s inappropriate brain droppings on Twitter @Ten_Foot_Midget , but please don’t follow him in real life. He grew up in Chicago’s Beverly To read more of Tim’s blogs click here.