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The Greyhound

The Student News Site of Loyola University Maryland

The Greyhound

The Success of the World Baseball Classic


Photo courtesy of Jenni Konrad via

Anyone who says baseball is a dying sport is wrong. Within the last year, the Cubs won the World Series which broke a 108-year-long curse, Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper started a “make baseball fun again” campaign (and it’s working), and a new generation of players under 25 years old (like Astros infielder Carlos Correa, Indians infielder Francisco Lindor, Cubs infielder Kris Bryant, and Angels outfielder Mike Trout) have become the faces of their respective franchises and the MLB.

All of this doesn’t include the World Baseball Classic (WBC), which the United States just won on March 22.


Baseball is back to being appealing to the younger generations.


The WBC has met all expectations this year and exceeded them. The tournament is similar to the FIFA World Cup in that it is played every four years and pits different nations against each other.

What stands out about this WBC is how dedicated the players of the U.S. are. All throughout their dugout, not a single individual considers this tournament a joke.

“It’s different, it’s been a great experience that I would highly recommend if anybody has an opportunity to do it,” San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey said in an interview with KNBR radio. “This group of guys has been great and honestly [it’s] a huge honor to represent your country.”

Posey’s statement stands as a hallmark of U.S. dedication to the WBC. Posey suffered from one of the nastiest leg injuries in recent memory, essentially giving him an option not to play. And no one would have second guessed him if he chose not to.

The WBC in the past has been criticized for causing injuries before the MLB season even begins, namely with pitchers. However, the WBC has limited this problem by instituting hard pitch counts for pitchers, meaning that pitchers can’t throw more than 65 pitchers in the first round, 85 pitches in the second, and with mandatory days off.

The WBC has been outstanding this year, with drums and chants galore in every ballpark. The peak of the crowd atmosphere was the USA v. Dominican Republic game in Round 1, where Miami Park’s atmosphere was described as “an atmosphere that many in attendance were comparing to a World Series game. You cannot even come close to that in a spring training game,” according to CBS Sports.

This year was not only the first that the U.S. won the classic, but also the first year that the U.S. even made it to the championship game. In recent tournaments (2005, 2009, 2013) Japan has won two titles in 2005 and 2009 while the Dominican Republic won in 2013. Historically, the U.S. team was not made of the best players, but this year still changed that perception that American players don’t care about playing for the U.S..

Young stars joined the teams of their native countries, including most of the names listed above. Established veterans, like catcher Yadier Molina (Puerto Rico), Andrew McCutchen (U.S.), infielder Adrian Gonzalez (Mexico), and infielder Manny Machado (Dominican Republic) all played when they easily could have skipped the tournament all together.

What is promising for the U.S. is not that they won it this year, but that for the next WBC in four years, the team’s roster might be even better than this year’s squad. All the young stars right now are aged 25 and younger, would all be entering the primes of their careers and have a chance at doing something special. With the success in the atmosphere, the quality of play on the field, and the overall positive energy from the tournament sets the U.S. up for an outstanding 2021 showcase.

There is, however, a lot of debate over whether the WBC will continue to be a prominent event in the future since baseball was just re-recognized as an Olympic sport. Baseball and softball were dropped from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) after the 2008 Beijing Games, but were added for the 2020 Tokyo games.

One argument is that since the WBC was created as a “response” to baseball being dropped, then the WBC should be removed since the IOC is allowing baseball again.

The problem with this argument, though, is that the WBC has top players playing, and the Olympics are probably going to feature minor league prospects or retired players because the Olympics are held at the same time as baseball’s regular season is ending.

No MLB team will allow a star player to miss the most important time of the season to play in the Olympics and potentially injure themselves. The WBC is played during Spring Training, so players can miss MLB camp and be perfect for the regular season.

Additionally, the IOC’s recognizing baseball and softball might only be temporary. According to ESPN, “if the 2024 Olympics are awarded to Los Angeles, it’s a good bet baseball will be there. But if one of the other three candidates — Paris, Rome and Budapest — get the Games, then it becomes less likely.”

Baseball, although a global sport, still doesn’t have the same popularity as soccer on the world stage. If a European country hosts the Olympics, then there would be no infrastructure to hold a baseball or softball tournament.

The 2017 WBC showed what this tournament can become with teams and stadiums fully committing to it. Even with the Olympics hanging in the background, the WBC showed how fun baseball can be, and how these big name players play with emotion once a country’s name is stitched across their chests.


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The Success of the World Baseball Classic