Saturday, May 25, 2013
BY MIKE SCHMIDT
(Continued from page 1)
Ain't going to happen, too many issues.
Everyone would agree the timing element, during spring training, is always a concern. The NBA puts its Dream Team in play in the offseason. Why not consider baseball's offseason? Because baseball has no offseason.
After the World Series, there is the 60-game winter ball season that leads into the Caribbean Series. This runs right up to spring training and most Latin players are involved. There's been consideration for shortening the season to 150 games every four years and playing the WBC in early April and also suggestions for a two-week period in the middle of the season. Truthfully, the WBC is in the only place it can be.
We also saw another side of the WBC that needs work when Mexico and Canada got into a very nasty brawl caused by the run differential rule. If teams tied, advancing in the tournament could be determined by the team that scores the most. Now this rule, like the mercy rule for routs, takes us back to our Little League days.
I assume not all in that game were on the same page, as Ernie Whitt's team bunted for a hit with a six-run lead in the ninth inning, a run differential strategy. After three tries the Mexico pitcher hit the next Canadian batter in the back, a war broke out at home plate and fortunately no one was seriously hurt.
You'd think after two tries by the pitcher, the Mexico manager might have intervened and explained the rules to his team. Again, just an issue that cries for the WBC to retool the rule element of the competition.
In 2009, we were three outs away from elimination in Miami. Only a three-run rally in the bottom of the ninth kept us from the same fate as 2006 and 2013. After 2006, the U.S. was to pull out all stops to win in 2009. After a loss in the semifinals to Japan, same thing. So the U.S. brought in the heavy artillery this time with Joe Torre & Co.
Dud again, 0 for 3 in three WBC opportunities. And maybe it's time to face the music.
Until Team USA and the MLB clubs vested in winning the WBC by motivating -- in some way -- the best American players to compete, Team USA will be no different than its competition.
Having said this, I must finish with this thought: My experience as Team USA third base coach in 2009 was one of the most memorable experiences of my life.
I will forever cherish the friendships I made during the three weeks we were together. And like the players always say, there is no feeling that compares to having USA on your chest. I'm sure the same holds true for all players who represent their countries.
Playing for your country is the ultimate. Maybe that's the bottom line. Maybe winning isn't everything or the only thing.