With yesterday's deflating news that Dodgers 3B Hanley Ramirez won't be playing until almost June, I'm not only deflated as a Dodger fan. As a baseball fan, I'm wondering what the hell we are doing with this World Baseball Classic in the first place.
I get that MLB wants to expand and globalize the fan base for baseball, and that supposedly there were a couple of nations who really cared about the composition of their country's compulsory-compiled rosters. Even if the fans don't show up (see photo, above), and tickets for the finals are discounted to as low as $5, the individual countries give a damn, right?
Not the US, that's for sure. And sure enough, when the US team's brightest star, David Wright, went down with a rib injury that might impact the start of his 2013 season, one had to wonder why Wright had chosen to participate in the first place, rather than try to focus on the improving the state of the woeful Mets. Yankee Mark Teixeira also went down with a Team USA-triggered injury, imperiling the chances of the team with the second-highest payroll in baseball.
These injuries hearken back to the 2009 season when Daisuke Matsuzaka, the MVP of the tournament, was sidelined with arm fatigue in April of that season. What is the point of risking injury in a meaningless competition?
Some may argue that injuries could just as easily occur in spring training games, equally meaningless and equally overseen by capricious baseball gods. But I have to think that the nationalistic sentiments of the WBC tournament amplify the perceived stakes beyond a spring training exhibition (which, unlike the WBC, can still end in a tie). Factor in some minor leaguers, for whom the WBC will be their shining athletic moment, gunning at 100%, and the potential for injury seems to be greater.
Watching the Ramirez injury happen (see link with attached video): sure, it seemed innocuous enough of a defensive dive. Maybe that could have happened at Camelback Ranch, too. Maybe Ramirez was destined to get hurt.
But for pete's sake, now we're forced to consider Juan frickin' Uribe as a starting 3B again, an idea that has never made sense for the Dodgers even when Ned Colletti was dreaming this up over whisky one evening, and yet has persisted attempts like a recurring nightmare. So here we are, our lineup royally screwed before the season even begins. Yes, I'm bitter.
I don't know, guys. I'm not down with WBC (yeah, you know me).
Get well soon, Hanley!
photo swiped from here