Maybe fifty Americans have even heard of it.
Half of them care about it.
Half of those have ever seen a single game.
That’s why the upcoming fourth World Baseball Classic will, by all accounts, be the last World Baseball Classic. Nobody in America cares about it. Least of all, American players. Since there is no extra salary involved, American-born players are not interested. Playing for your country? Nah. Playing for some Benjamin Franklins? Now you’re talking.
Go to the Dominican and Japan and Puerto Rico and Venezuela, and the stadiums are jam packed, but not nearly as packed as the dugouts full of players eager to represent their country.
Go to the games in Miami and LA and San Diego, where the final rounds are played, and the parks are emptier than a Kanye West thought. So empty, you can walk around after the game collecting the foul balls that nobody was around to retrieve.
Unless there is a significant surge in revenue, it was announced that the next WBC will be the last WBC. The problem isn’t just runaway apathy on the part of American players, it’s that they never could find the right time to play it.
Ideally you would play it in the middle of the summer. But as much as MLB wants to foster the growth of baseball worldwide, they don’t want it enough to shut down for a week in the middle of the season for it, even if it’s only once every four years. The revenue isn’t enough to get them to even consider it.
You could play it after the season, but the players on teams that have already been eliminated have hung it up for the year and cannot be expected to suddenly gear back up. And any player on a team that went deep into October risks injury playing any longer.
So the only other possible time to play it is the most illogical of all. Before the season. When nobody is paying any attention to baseball.
So farewell to the World Baseball Classic. Japan won it in 2006 and 2009. The Dominican Republic in 2013.
Who will win the final one of all time in 2017?
The excitement is palpable.
Or maybe that’s just gas.