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CBS SPORTS – If you cared, perhaps they’d play.
If they played, perhaps you’d care.
They don’t. You don’t. And all we got out of Thursday’s announcement of the Team USA roster was a reminder that until further notice, the World Baseball Classic remains a second-rate event.
No, that’s too harsh. The WBC isn’t second-rate. But it’s like the forever prospect, sadly full of unrealized potential.
It could someday become a great event, a once-every-four-years highlight of the baseball calendar. For now, it’s an oddity so unimportant to the average American fan that we don’t mind at all that Team USA features Shane Victorino instead of Mike Trout, J.P. Arencibia rather than Buster Posey, Ryan Vogelsong rather than Justin Verlander, Derek Holland rather than David Price.
Even if the WBC isn’t second-rate, this version of Team USA certainly is.
Trout’s agent, Craig Landis, told the Los Angeles Times that his client “just wanted a regular spring training preparation.”
You can bet the Angels are fine with that. You can bet Angels fans are fine with that.
And you can bet that American fans of other teams barely noticed.
You can’t blame them. It’s baseball’s job to capture their imagination and appeal to their national pride.
You can’t blame the players. As long as American fans believe that the regular major-league season is all that counts, we can’t expect players to feel any different.
Some will choose to play. Victorino, for one, was said to be extremely enthusiastic. Some stars will play. Ryan Braun and David Wright are on the Team USA roster, as is Giancarlo Stanton.
But of the five American players who won the top BBWAA awards last season (Posey, Price, Trout, Bryce Harper and R.A. Dickey), only Dickey is on the initial Team USA roster. Of the top dozen or so American players, perhaps two or three will be in the WBC.
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