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Published:January 31st, 2006 08:30 EST
Timing may be Mal-Factor for World Baseball Classic

Timing may be Mal-Factor for World Baseball Classic

By Nick Pauly

The World Baseball Classic kicks off in early March when 16 countries battle it out to see which country is the force of the baseball world.  It is an event that has been hyped by the media and the MLB Players Association for months now.  However, are the players and fans ready for it?  Probably not.

When you think of baseball in March, you think of an easy-going month with little intensity and low-key games.  It’s about vacationing in Florida and Arizona, or about walking into a bright and hot stadium while the temperature by Wrigley Field in Chicago is about 35 degrees.  It’s about being a part of a baseball game where you can sit back, watch your team play, and just not worry so much. 

The World Baseball Classic is certainly a clever idea that fans will certainly enjoy, but having it take place in March could prove to be a mal-factor in terms of its making a mark on baseball history.  

“I think it's going to be hard for fans [to be excited about it],” stated young Yankee fan Adam Weinstein.  “I think people are going to be interested by the expanded horizon of the game, but as for an actual competition, I think the stakes will be pretty low considering no one is going to be in top shape.”

 Fans are used to waiting the entire off-season to see their favorite players play relaxed games in March.  It’s a time for them to get used to watching new acquisitions play without biting their nails over the results.  With the Classic, fans may feel a little strange putting all of their focus onto it while maintaining a similar interest to the development of their favorite team.

In addition, before the season starts, fans are going to want to be rooting for their players 100%.  If a Dodgers fan is living in the United States, is he or she actually going to root against Nomar Garciaparra when the U.S. takes on Mexico on March 7?  Would a Rangers fan from Mexico root against Mark Teixeira?  Not very likely.

Besides the bad timing that it brings on the fans, it may have even worse timing on the MLB teams.  The health risks are a given, as no one will be happy if a player suffers an injury from playing the World Baseball Classic.

It also deprives the big league clubs the chance to face full competition in spring training and puts a damper on the teams’ abilities to gel during that time.  These factors not only hurt the teams’ overall shape, but also get in the way of each club’s management decisions on what each 25-man roster will be.

Overall, the World Baseball Classic is simply unlikely to make its mark on baseball history due to its unconventional timing.  Perhaps in the future, tournaments such as these should take place in November.  The season will be over, fans and players will be more ready for a competitive atmosphere, and any injuries would affect the MLB teams a lot less.