Select Page
International Baseball Has Potential, But How Do We Reach It?

International Baseball Has Potential, But How Do We Reach It?

     For the first time in 6 years, and the 8th time in the event’s history, the World Baseball Classic is upon us, and if you’re anything like the millions of international fans from the 5 different continents that participated this competition, this is one of the most exciting times in the sport.  The surging international powerhouses like Japan and the Dominican Republic get to match up with other super teams as we have never seen before in the US.  This event has brought us rosters that are simply unheard of when it comes to actual competitive baseball.  Due to all this, one would think that the country in which the sports main league resides has a vast and energetic fanbase supporting the country due to it being such an important event. The problem however, lies in the fact that a majority of US baseball fans don’t think of the WBC as an important event, and more of a for-fun cash grab put together by the MLB in an attempt to garner more international fans, but it is and has the potential to be so much more than that.  International baseball is a huge deal in other countries, so why is it lacking in the main country of the sport?  This problem is very fixable, and if the effort is made by the MLB and its players, the World Baseball Classic has the opportunity to become another staple in the world of international sports, and one of the most prestigious trophies in all of baseball.


Solution #1: Have a Host City/Country/Region For The Duration Of The Tournament

     If you’re currently watching the World Baseball Classic, you’ve likely found yourself sacrificing your sleep to enjoy the games, due to the variety of locations.  This cycle, the tournament is being held in 4 different locations, all in different time zones around the globe.  This makes it nearly impossible for fans to follow all the groups, leaving them feeling less engaged and involved in this tournament.  For example, someone living in the Northeast US would have had to stay up till about 1:30 AM to see the finish of a group C game starting at 10:00 PM, which is a tough enough task on its own for a work week.  It however does not end there, if they wanted to see the likes of Shohei Ohtani in group B, they would need to get up at 6:00 AM for first pitch.  If the MLB moved to have a host region in a singular time zone, it would allow the fans to have a much better schedule for enjoying games at once, instead of having games going on for 18 of the 24 hours in a given day.  This also gives a chance for the host area to build a fan culture and welcome tourists like the world cup does every 4 years.


Solution #2:  Increase the Presence of International Baseball Beyond the Classic

     International baseball beyond the classic is almost non-existent in today’s world.  Yes, we see it in the summer Olympics, but it is an amateur competition that only sees the likes of minor league and retired MLB players.  All successful international sports have 1 major tournament, but they also have smaller ones to keep the spirit and culture there with it.  The clear addition for baseball could be continent-based tournaments, which could also be a path to qualification to the WBC.  Simply put, if the sport wants to expand its presence, being a member of your country’s national team should be a commitment beyond a once every 4-year tournament.


Solution #3:  Invest more money into foreign country’s Baseball Infrastructure

     In the past couple of decades, we have seen a huge surge of international players from South American countries including Puerto Rico, The Dominican Republic, and Venezuela.  One of the main reasons for this is the Hundreds of Millions of Dollars that the MLB poured into supporting the sport, and there is no doubt in saying that it has paid dividends in both talents, but also personality in the league, and has made international baseball a much more competitive scene.  A big problem however lies in the fact that throughout all this, there still only remain about 5 teams that had a chance going into the tournament this year.  The certainty of winners and the near impossibility of an underdog story makes the tournament feel dull and unexciting, we also see completely uninteresting thrashings of teams like the Czech Republic, who lost by 20 runs in a 5-inning game to Japan.  If the MLB was willing to invest in other struggling countries to build better rosters, they not only would they build a better roster, but would also add new fans and bring exciting new talent to the league.