I admit I was one of those who was against the WBC, bashing it as nothing more than a glorified All Star game, boasting that there was no reason to watch it, except for the mere fact that we all miss baseball. Saying that the games mean nothing, and that future WBC tourneys should be cancelled now.
Well, the Netherlands and Australia alone have made me eat crow, with their competition level, in a bracket where they should have been eliminated in two games according to experts. The excitement has been at a level as high if not higher than last seasons Playoffs IMHO.
I was firmly against the WBC in 2006. Before the first pitch of the 2009 version, I was against it once again. I cannot explain how glad I am that I have watched it this year. Netherlands has shown that they have some gutsy young pitchers, who have carried that team into the second round, as they have advanced to Miami. Name one person who would have thought that possible a week ago.
Seriously, look at the rosters for Australia and the Netherlands, and it really opens your eyes that they have been able to compete. This shows that the talent worldwide has escalated, and that everyone involved it taking the WBC much more serious that we, the average American baseball fan, have. We complained about how it should not take place, should be cancelled, it is horrible, et al. Well, watching the games, I can only disagree with us, (myself included) and our initial opinions to the 2009 WBC.
Now I am sure there are still those opposed to the WBC, and with their own valid reasoning, but after watching some games, and seeing the intensity they are playing with, I believe that playing in the WBC might do some of the players better than being in ST, since they are playing to win, not playing to prepare. Those wanting to say that the games mean nothing, need to look at the joyous celebrating of the Netherlands young team of “who is he?” players, and the disappointing looks on the faces of the Dominican team as they were sent packing (mostly to their respective spring training site).
For many of the kids playing this may turn out to be their 15 minutes of fame. Some this is their chance to be scouted and possibly invited to a camp somewhere. Then there are some elder players who this may be their last dance.
I now sit and wonder what could have been, had Aram or Zambrano joined in on the WBC instead of turning it down, instead of being thankful that they are in Mesa with the Cubs instead of the WBC. Not to mention other All Stars who turned it down for various reasons.