Yankees: Why They Should Lead The Way To Dump The WBC


The Yankees, like all teams at the moment, have two key players on their roster getting suited up to play in the World Baseball Classic tournament that begins today. Two others declined to play. Yankees ownership should not be bashful about leading the way to have Major League Baseball jettison the tournament after this year, and here’s why.

The Yankees watched as Dellin Betances left camp on Sunday to board a plane to be with a temporary set of teammates representing his homeland in the WBC. Didi Gregorius left weeks ago flying to the furthest part of the world in New Zealand on a promotional tour. And now, he faces long and arduous plane rides for as long as the Netherlands remains in the tournament.

It could have been worse for the Yankees. After much reflection, both Gary Sanchez and Masahiro Tanaka declined to participate, choosing instead to remain with the team in Florida.

MLB’s “Big Idea”

Make no mistake about it, the WBC is the brainchild and the adopted favorite son of the suits at Major League Baseball. On the WBC website, MLB proclaims:

"The pageantry, the passion, the players and the pride.All will be on display in vibrant colors and international intensity once again as the World Baseball Classic returns on Monday after a four-year wait."

Ain’t nobody I know who’s made it to the Hall Of Fame or won a World Series by playing in the World Baseball Classic.” (Noah Syndergaard)

And maybe it is all of that. But what are the costs and the return to teams that allow their players to participate in the tournament?  What, for instance, do the Yankees stand to gain if Gregorius hits ten home runs and wins the MVP award. Zilch. Nada. On the other hand, how much do the Yankees have to lose if Gregorius breaks a leg stretching a double into a triple.

Or, if Dellin Betances strains his elbow causing him to miss six-to-eight weeks of the regular season. You know, the one that counts.

Thor Takes A Stand

Noah Syndergaard, bless his heart, had the most telling comment on the WBC the other day. Paraphrasing. he said, “Ain’t nobody I know who’s made it to the Hall Of Fame or won a World Series by playing in the World Baseball Classic.” Sort of sums it up, doesn’t it?

MLB tells the owners of its franchises, “Don’t worry, if one of your players gets injured, we’ll pick up the tab for his salary while he’s disabled”, which is true by the way. But that misses the obvious point, which is that the player misses time, to begin with for a team that is trying to win games enabling the team to get into the real “classic” – the Fall Classic in October.

More from Yanks Go Yard

Baseball is already internationalized. In fact, if it gets any more “international”, American-born players in the major leagues will be holding only the thinnest of percentages in terms of participation. And no, I’m not making a racist statement, so don’t go there.

But the fact is that there are twenty different countries from five different continents represented on major league teams today. There is even one player, Demi” Orimoloye, who was born in Africa (Nigeria), who stands a better than even chance of playing for the Milwaukee Brewers someday.

George Steinbrenner Knew Better

The only ones who can stop this train are the baseball owners. In fact, it was Yankees owner George Steinbrenner who took exception to the WBC when it was first presented in 2005. He lost the battle and has yet to win the war. The Player’s Union chimed in with their objections as well, pointing to the timing of the tournament being held in the spring.

But, the train had already left the station and MLB got its way when it became known that they would be bankrolling a good portion of the tournament. Naturally, this has resulted in a bunch of free-loading countries joining the fun in the same way that the United States funds nearly all of the United Nations expense.

Next: Four Take Aways From Spring Strain So Far

Hal Steinbrenner, take a cue from your dad and put your foot down in protest. Because if you do, you might just find a chorus of supporters behind you.