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…


    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

  • Random Thoughts October 23, 2016
    The World Series With the Chicago Cubs clinching the NL pennant, earning a spot in the World Series opposite the Cleveland Andrew Millers, one of the two longest World Series droughts in baseball will come to an end. Many have noted all the stuff that’s happened since the Cubs had last been in the Fall […] The post Random Thoughts appeared first on River Ave […]
    Matt Imbrogno
  • Weekend Open Thread October 22, 2016
    Friday: Happy Friday folks, assuming you can read this and aren’t stuck with the massive internet outage sweeping across the country. I haven’t been able to check Twitter for hours. It’s quite liberating, I must say. Anyway, there is no baseball this evening. It’s a travel day for the NLCS. The Dodgers and Cubs will […] The post Weekend Open Thread appeared […]
    Mike Axisa
  • DotF: Gleyber Torres raking in the Arizona Fall League October 22, 2016
    Your browser does not support iframes.The Arizona Fall League is in full swing and the various Caribbean winter leagues are getting underway as well. Before we get to the winter ball action, here are some minor league links and notes: LHP Nestor Cortes has been added to the Scottsdale Scorpions roster, according to the AzFL […] The post DotF: Gleyber Torres […]
    Mike Axisa
  • RAB Live Chat October 21, 2016
    The post RAB Live Chat appeared first on River Avenue Blues.
    Mike Axisa
  • The Second Half Setup Men [2016 Season Review] October 21, 2016
    The Yankees opened the season with maybe the most dominant bullpen trio in baseball history. For a few months a lead after six innings was close to an automatic win. Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, and Aroldis Chapman protected basically every lead they were given. The Yankees weren’t very good overall, but they always had the […] The post The Second Half Se […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Mailbag: Cubs, Torres, Mateo, Miller, Judge, Bird, Tigers October 21, 2016
    I’ve got 14 questions in the mailbag this week. RABmailbag (at) gmail (dot) com is the place to send us questions at any time. Michael asks: The Cubs right now have a surplus of position players, and it seems either Jorge Soler or Ben Zobrist will be the odd man out. Do you think the […] The post Mailbag: Cubs, Torres, Mateo, Miller, Judge, Bird, Tigers appe […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Thursday Night Open Thread October 20, 2016
    The Cleveland Andrew Millers are going to the World Series! Cleveland beat the Blue Jays in Game Five of the ALCS yesterday to win the pennant. They await the winner of the Dodgers-Cubs series. Those two clubs will play Game Five of the NLCS tonight (8pm ET on FOX Sports 1). Kenta Maeda and Jon […] The post Thursday Night Open Thread appeared first on River […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Thursday Notes: Beltran, Blue Jays, IFAs, Qualifying Offer October 20, 2016
    There are, at most, ten more baseball games left this season. It could be as few as six. That stinks. The offseason is fun in it’s own way, but nothing is better than actual games. That’s why we all watch. Anyway, make sure you check out MLBTR’s Offseason Outlook: New York Yankees post. Nice little […] The post Thursday Notes: Beltran, Blue Jays, IFAs, Quali […]
    Mike Axisa
  • The Very Talented and Very Frustrating Michael Pineda [2016 Season Review] October 20, 2016
    It’s hard to believe Michael Pineda just completed his fifth season with the Yankees. It still feels like he just got here. Of course, Pineda didn’t actually pitch in two of those five seasons because of his shoulder surgery, but still. The trade was five years ago. Man, time flies. That was such a wild […] The post The Very Talented and Very Frustrating Mic […]
    Mike Axisa
  • The Yankees’ Five Shortest Home Run of 2016 October 20, 2016
    Yesterday we looked at the longest home runs hit by the Yankees hit in 2016, and now it’s time to go to the other extreme. Now we’re going to look back at the shortest home runs. The most laughable wall-scrapers of the season. These are the homers that make you feel like the Yankees just […] The post The Yankees’ Five Shortest Home Run of 2016 appeared first […]
    Mike Axisa

Blog Stats

  • 61,975 hits

%d bloggers like this: