If you doubt that professional sports is all about the money, despite the evidence of the NHL fiasco that sort of ends tomorrow, check out the U.S. roster for the World Baseball Classic taking place this spring.
Much of the rest of the world pays serious attention to the WBC, and American owners would love to grab a foothold for Major League Baseball in Europe and Asia, but almost no, “top tier,” in terms of publicity, anyway, talent has been listed.
One New York Yankee, Mark Texeira, is on the list, partly because he is coming off a down year and needs the pre-season work.
There are no Dodgers, despite their joining the Yankees as an elite spender over the past year, no players from the World Series runner-up Tigers and only a couple of pitchers even mentioned on the fringe from the champion Giants, nobody from the big budget Angels, and no starting player from the Cardinals or Red Sox, etc.
There are couple of elite players, like Joe Mauer and Ryan Braun, but most of the names on the roster won’t be recognizable to casual fans (Willie Bloomquist and Jonathan Lucroy, anyone?).
The talk in other countries, like Canada, will be about the honour of carrying the country’s colours to a kind of world championship. In America, it’s “screw growing the game or the MLB brand, we are not taking chances with our assets,” especially since the U.S., despite its being the national pastime, doesn’t dominate this world showcase event.
It will be interesting to see how teams respond to demands from Asian and Latin American players that they be allowed to represent their nations, and to see just which players from those countries have become infected with the big-bucks-only virus.
No nation is more ostensibly pro patriotism than the U.S. No nation’s rich people care less about their native country and its image.
If you like baseball, the WBC is the best you will be able to see in at least the first half of the year. MLB owners (as NHL ones) like money, not sports, and don’t really care what baseball fans might enjoy.
Amazing, really, that those fans maintain their allegiance to those owners’ bank accounts.
•In the meantime, you can watch the NHL season kick off with two of the worst Canadian teams playing Saturday night and still get to the rink for the Smoke Eater game. I know most of you won’t, because the ultimately disappointing, “other,” Canadian teams will follow that game into your living rooms.
You would rather miss out on what should be an intense and standings-critical battle in your home-town arena than pass up a chance to see the rich kids who play on behalf of richer kids sort of strut their stuff.
The Nitehawks, who, with the idiocy of last week behind them (one hopes), are in a serious battle for division supremacy in the best division in junior B, have the last local game pre-unlocking of the NHL, and should get decent support Friday night at home.
The Smoke Eaters, with just a fingernail grip on a potential playoff spot even if they win in Salmon Arm Friday night, will, I guarantee it, put on a more entertaining show than all the NHL teams the tube will offer Saturday.
I hope some of you will get out to support them.