WBC now resembles Little League

First came the pitch counts. Major League pitchers throwing in the WBC would be tethered to strict pitch counts to protect their valuable arms.

Then came the opt-outs. Barry Bonds pulled out of the tournament; Randy Johnson and John Smoltz declined invitations to pitch for Team USA; and Alex Rodriguez nearly single-handedly turned the WBC into a mockery of a tournament (or did the WBC turn A-Rod into a mockery of himself?).

But the latest rule transcends the other two. The World Baseball Classic will feature a mercy rule. Now, this grand tournament is no better off than a Little League game.

According to the latest from the WBC, the mercy rule is similar in spirit to the one in place during Little League games:

Games will be stopped after five innings when a team is ahead by 15 or more runs and after seven innings when a team is ahead by at least 10 runs. A game can be stopped in the middle of an inning if a team reaches the threshold.

As far as I can tell, WBC organizers felt it necessary to issue this rule so as to avoid potentially embarrassing outcomes. A quick glance at the tournament bracket reveals a few match-ups that could turn ugly fast. In fact, nearly every grouping in the first round features a mismatch.

Let’s take the Dominican Republic’s bracket. The DR team, favored to win the tournament, features numerous All Stars including Miguel Tejada, Pedro Martinez, Albert Pujols, Vladimir Guerrero and David Ortiz.

In the first round, the DR team squares off against Italy. While featuring 25 Major Leaguers, the preliminary Italian roster hardly strikes fear into the hearts of its opponents. The biggest star on the team is 37-year-old Mike Piazza who is still unemployed. He is joined by the likes of Matt Mantei, Mike Gallo, and, uh, Dan Miceli. Their team name is actually the Italian Journeyman.

In team USA’s bracket, USA, Mexico, and Canada all play South Africa. The most experienced player on South Africa’s team hasn’t played above AA ball and most of the guys on the team haven’t advanced beyond Rookie level. Is the South African club going to show up? Might they be mercy ruled out of existence?

In my opinion, chalk this one as just another flaw. The organizers of the World Baseball Classic couldn’t find 16 competitive teams. They’ve managed to field around 12 or 14 teams that are on a fairly even field. (I honestly cannot assess the all-Chinese, non-MLB China team and the few-MLB Chinese Taipei and Japan teams.) But at least two teams are filler, and the Netherlands make it only the strength of colonial ties to Caribbean islands.

Baseball has never been about the mercy rule. Teams must find ways to use pitchers to end the game without giving up innings to valuable arms. Managers in blow outs must find ways to keep their players from getting too discouraged.

But in the WBC the mercy rule now eliminates that. What’s from stopping the South African players from throwing in the towel before too long? And how demoralizing will the first national-televised mercy rule loss be the nation on the wrong end of the 15-run loss? When AA and Rookie Level teenagers are facing the best of the Majors, the kids will lose badly.

In the future, hopefully, WBC organizers can find teams that all have a shot at winning a game or two along the way. Getting beat up is no fun. Just ask the Devil Rays.

2 Responses to “WBC now resembles Little League”


  1. 1 Ryan B January 28, 2006 at 2:39 am

    To make it fair why doesn’t WBC ask like players from MLB play on teams for fun. I am just throwing a name out but like the Mariners Brett Boone for example playing for South Africa? He’s a decent player but surely isn’t from there. But that would give them at least one bat thats good. Have the WBC talked to any cricket players?

  2. 2 lisa gray January 31, 2006 at 9:03 pm

    hi ben!!!

    well, first off, i do feel for teenagers gotta try to hit ML pitching.

    but i’m not a fan of this thing. at all. i wouldn’t really mind if it was all college guys or minor leaguers, but it’s just an extra month to tire guys out and when you hope/expect to be in the postseason, well, the guys are just dead draggin by october.

    and me i will NOT be happy if brad lidge or dan wheeler gets injured. thank GAWD they disrespected roy oswalt (as usual) and he not going…

    lisa

    p.s. – i read you took a law school test – that gonna cut into your writin i think. but maybe not – look at all the posters on BTF who are lawyers/law students…

    good luck


Comments are currently closed.



RSS River Ave. Blues

  • Revisiting the MLBTR Archives: February 2011 February 8, 2016
    Retro Week is now in the rear-view mirror, and since it’s a new month, it’s time to look back through the MLB Trade Rumors archive. This seems like a good way to transition from Retro Week back to the real world. As a reminder, these posts are for fun and are not intended to make […] The post Revisiting the MLBTR Archives: February 2011 appeared first on Riv […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Sanchez: Yulieski and Lourdes Gurriel defect from Cuba February 8, 2016
    Brothers Yulieski Gurriel and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. have defected from Cuba and are looking to sign with MLB teams, reports Jesse Sanchez. They’ve gone by Gourriel in the past but dropped the “o” a few years back. Along with Japanese right-hander Shohei Otani, the Gurriel brothers are arguably two of the three best players in […] The post Sanchez: Yulieski and […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Fan Confidence Poll: February 8th, 2016 February 8, 2016
    2015 Season Record: 87-75 (764 RS, 698 RA, 88-74 pythag. record), lost wildcard game Top stories from last week: The Yankees suffered their first major injury of the year: Greg Bird will miss the entire 2016 season following surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder. Brian Cashman said the Yankees will look […] The post Fan Confidence Poll: Febru […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Weekend Open Thread February 7, 2016
    I didn’t have much time to read anything this week — Retro Week posts take longer to research and write than regular posts — so I don’t have any links to pass along this weekend. I do recommend checking out this series of articles by the MLB.com reporters. They asked various GMs about the trades […] The post Weekend Open Thread appeared first on River Avenue […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Searching for Innings February 7, 2016
    In bolstering their pitching staff this year, the Yankees opted to continue their recent trend of bullpen dominance. From Mariano Rivera to Rafael Soriano, David Robertson, and Andrew Miller, the Yankees have had the ninth inning on lockdown for years. Robertson, Dellin Betances, and others have helped secure the earlier innings over the past few […] The pos […]
    Matt Imbrogno
  • Minor League Notes: Mateo, Garcia, Signings, Releases February 6, 2016
     Your browser does not support iframes.The video above is OF Aaron Judge discussing his experience at MLB’s annual rookie development camp. SS Tyler Wade was there as well. I saw him walking around in the video. Not sure who else was there. I’ve got a whole bunch of minor league notes and links and whatnot […] The post Minor League Notes: Mateo, Garcia, Sign […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Judge, Mateo, Kaprielian headline 2016 Spring Training invitees February 5, 2016
    Earlier today the Yankees announced their list of non-roster Spring Training invitees for the 2016 season. A total of 25 non-roster players were invited, so add in the guys on the 40-man roster, and the Yankees will have a total of 65 players in Spring Training this year. Last season they had 68. Here are […] The post Judge, Mateo, Kaprielian headline 2016 S […]
    Mike Axisa
  • RAB Live Chat February 5, 2016
    The post RAB Live Chat appeared first on River Avenue Blues.
    Mike Axisa
  • Back on Top of the Baseball World: Doc Gooden’s No-Hitter February 5, 2016
    It’s easy to forget Doc Gooden was only 31 when he signed with the Yankees prior to the 1996 season. He broke in with the Mets at age 19 and was a sensation. George Steinbrenner wanted a 19-year-old stud of his own, which led to Jose Rijo being brought up in 1984, but that didn’t […] The post Back on Top of the Baseball World: Doc Gooden’s No-Hitter appeared […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Mailbag: Hall of Famers, Judge, Kendrick, Maddux, Bonds February 5, 2016
    Got 15 questions in the mailbag this week. They’re a mix of Retro Week questions and regular ol’ 2016 Yankees questions. Use the RABmailbag (at) gmail (dot) com email address to send us anything. Steve asks: I had this conversation with a friend the other day but how many active players would you say are […] The post Mailbag: Hall of Famers, Judge, Kendrick, […]
    Mike Axisa

Blog Stats

  • 61,356 hits

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: