Why aren't all of the American stars playing in the WBC?
Studs like Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Noah Syndergaard, Clayton Kershaw, and Madison Bumgarner all have one thing in common. What is it you ask? Refusal to play in the World Baseball Classic to represent the United States on a global stage. The sport that is credited with being created in America is receiving minimal support from some of the game’s biggest stars. Why is this happening? Why is it that some of the most popular stars in the sport are refusing to participate in a global event that is being broadcast to spectators world-wide? It's absolutely astonishing that they wouldn't want this opportunity to shine. The reasoning behind not wanting to play is even more absurd than the choice not to play.
Bryce Harper is quoted in saying “I really just think if we have the support of all of the players in the big leagues on the American side, then I’ll definitely play”, in an interview with CSN Mid-Atlantic. So let me ask you Mr. Harper, why can’t you be the change that you are demanding? We as a nation of baseball fans are being told that if there is more player support that you will play, but are you not a player? Why is it that it is expected for other people to step up before it becomes acceptable for individuals to step up. Can you imagine an outfield of Harper, Trout, and Stanton? Or Harper, Trout, and Jones? An All-Star outfield for the ages would truly bring spectators from around the world. The outfield that Team USA is currently presenting is nothing to scoff at though. Adam Jones, Andrew McCutchen, and Giancarlo Stanton all bring enough power and speed to terrify any starting rotation. But our position players aren’t the problem for Team USA. Our problem is going to be the pitching.
While the rotation is by no means the worst, it does have room for great improvement. Put Clayton Kershaw, Noah Syndergaard, Max Scherzer, and Madison Bumgarner all in the same rotation and what do you have? A WBC Championship, that’s what you have. That apparently does not matter though. For some pitchers, like Scherzer and Justin Verlander, injuries are the issue. Scherzer broke a knuckle on his throwing hand in mid-February and has been rehabbing since then. Kershaw is not currently injured, but is coming off of a season in which he did have injuries for a good portion of the season. When it comes to injuries, not wanting to participate in something like the WBC is understandable, health is very important. However, when you make a comment such as “Ain’t nobody make it to the Hall of Fame and World Series playing in the WBC.” Who said this you ask? Why that’s Thor himself, Mr. Noah Syndergaard of the New York Mets. Terrible grammar aside, WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? Noah Syndergaard is, without a doubt, a complete and total beast on the pitcher’s mound. One of the more terrifying pitchers to face from the batter’s box and truly a unique talent. With that said, being placed on a WBC roster is a huge accomplishment. That roster signifies that you are one of the best players in your entire country in the sport of baseball. No, you don’t make it to the Hall of Fame by playing in the WBC, but, that does go into a lengthy resume if you are selected to Cooperstown. I will also use a few examples to argue this well thought statement by Thor. Robinson Cano. That should be enough said. Robinson Cano will hands down be a Hall of Famer and guess what? He not only led his team to the WBC championship in 2013, not only is playing in the WBC this year, but he also won a World Series ring in 2009. Next excuse please.
Teams like the Dominican Republic, who played a great game last night in case you missed it, don’t just happen because of a relaxed and laid back outlook. No, these teams come to win, not for themselves, instead they come ready to play for their country. Moises Alou said once while wearing his WBC ring from 2013 that he wears that because it is more important than his 1997 World Series ring (with the Florida Marlins, just another FYI). It was more important because it represented a country accomplishment. That is one thing that we are missing from some of the biggest stars in the game, the want to play and represent their country. Personal accomplishments didn’t stop for Michael Jordan when he was on the dream team and they haven’t stopped for LeBron James since his appearance in the Olympics. So I’m not exactly sure where Noah Syndergaard is coming from.
Excuses can continue to be made as to why our top athletes refuse to represent their country, but, I’m thankful for the athletes who accepted that call and offer to participate and I wish Team USA the best of luck in the WBC. Team USA will be taking on Columbia tonight at 6pm on MLB Network.