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Why The WBC Will Succeed...

... even if people don't buy tickets, even if the US players and fans don't really care.


According to this article in this week's Sports Illustrated (premium content -- paid subscription required), it's because MLB wants it to succeed abroad, and doesn't really care about the US audience:

The truth is, organizers don't much care if the WBC plays in Peoria as long as it bowls 'em over in Beijing. The target audience isn't American fans but those in untapped markets in Asia, Europe and Central America, where Major League Baseball would love to sell TV rights and licensed paraphernalia. "Yes, we'll look at TV ratings, attendance and other numbers here, but we'll also look elsewhere," says WBC head Paul Archey, MLB's senior vice president of international operations. "If we're getting a 30 or 35 [TV] rating in Venezuela, then it's a success, no matter how we do here."

The article also says:

  • fewer than 20% of the 49,000 available tickets for the US' first two games in Phoenix have been sold;
  • pitch limits will be 65 for early rounds and 100 in the championship game;
  • MLB is "confident" the Treasury Dept. will withdraw its objections and allow Cuba to compete;
  • sometime later this week, it will be announced that ESPN will televise some of the tournament.