Tuesday, March 24, 2009

USA Needs to Start Caring About International Competitions

Baseball was born in the United States. Yet, America cannot find the muscle to win world competitions. Is it lack of talent? Is it the lack of team cohesion? Or is it that the players just don’t care?

So, what’s the solution?

Recall the miracle on ice. USA defeated the unbeatable Red Machine from the USSR. The USA consisted of a passionate coach and college-age players. They wanted it.

Think American hotdog competitive eater Joey Chestnut. He beat the unstoppable Takeru Kobayashi. It deemed similar to the iceberg that took down the unsinkable Titanic. It was thought to be impossible.

America has the talent in every area, but it is the want in the athlete. They have to want to win.

USA basketball finally pulled a championship out in the past Olympics. Why? Because the players finally started giving a damn. They had the best players from the NBA. They had a college coach who cared if they won. So why should baseball be any different?

World baseball competitions have been friendly to very few. Japan, Cuba, and South Korea are always the best. The world event simply does not matter. Japan won back-to-back World Baseball Classics. They are the only team who has won the Classic. In 2006, USA did not place. In 2009, USA took fourth. Simply pathetic with the amount of talent on their team.

In 2000, minor league players in American went to the Olympics. Tommy Lasorda was named the manager of team USA. He managed them all the way to the title game. He put Milwaukee Brewers prospect (at the time) Ben Sheets on the mound against Cuba for the world title. Cuba was heavily favored in the championship vs. team USA. Sheets game out and pitched a gem. He pitched a three-hit complete game shutout to take the gold. Like USA and Duke Basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski, Lasorda cared about winning. After the win, Lasorda celebrated and said, “This is bigger than the World Series.”

Players need to put international competitions up on a pedestal like Lasorda did. They highly regard winning the World Series as they should. But, what is better than knowing you are the best in the world?

In 1980, the USA team went up against a hockey giant in the USSR. They won with college players. The US of A baseball team won gold in the Olympics with minor leaguers. Professional egos clash when they are together. Team USA looked like they got along pretty well during this year's WBC. But, they flat-out don't care if they win. It is more important that they remain healthy for their team. Minor leaguers not only want to get their name out there but they want to show their respective teams how much they deserve a shot to go pro. They are more about the team at their ages and for the most part do not have an ego because they are rookies.

America has so many of the world’s best baseball players. They have so much minor league talent. The minor leaguers have a lot to offer. Yet, a majority of fans will only watch the big name players. So, here’s the deal; put big names with small names. Mix and match. The eagerness of the minor leaguers may send them to a championship. It has worked for team USA in both hockey and baseball, but they go back to they system of putting the professional's out there. They need more team cohesion and that will be provided with less ego's and more love for the game.

America is the land of opportunity. It is time for the USA to give themselves an opportunity. The economy is hurting and people are looking for any sense of national pride. Ballplayers need to start caring about the name USA on the front of their uniforms and not the name on the back. American's created this game. They marketed this game. They need to start working harder to show why America is the best place to play baseball.


  1. I agree with you on the point that "caring" is an issue with these types of events. I don't think it's that the U.S. players don't "care" - I'm sure they do. But it seems like, when the world is the stage, international players make it matter more.

    Personally, I'm not a fan of the WBC, and this is one of the reasons. Playing for your country's pride should be incredibly important, sure. But I don't think baseball fans, Americans especially, will take this thing seriously unless each nation fields its absolute BEST team. Then bragging rights for a true WORLD champion would truly be on the line. Just my take on it.

  2. Bud Selig said Sunday night that the USA needed to pick up the intensity with its WBC selection process and that in 2013, the players need to make a bigger commitment. I disagree somewhat. There is too much money, injuries, and other factors at stake for the U.S. to risk its finest players in the WBC and the major league owners and GMs will not see it any other way.

    Selig's attitude is that if the U.S. had its best players compete, they would win the WBC every single time, but who really cares at this point. Apparently not his players, who are fine settling for spring training and millions of dollars in bonuses and contracts each season.

    Until there is more incentive or, a total requirement (let's hope not), for players to compete in the WBC, I do not think players will take spring training off to compete. For now, we can only wait and watch the situation for another four years.