The World Baseball Classic is the Olympic games for international play of the long-lived sport. This past week the young tournament saw a new winner, the United States of America.
The WBC has been played every four years since 2006, but the USA’s best finish before this year was fourth place in 2009. This may be a surprise to some fans of the game knowing all of the talent that comes out of America.
According to the MLB, 73.5 percent of all MLB players last season were born in the U.S. The National team does not lack the talent, they’re out there, but what is stopping them from playing?
If you look at this year’s WBC roster you might only recognize a couple names, especially for the casual fan. Some notables include Buster Posey, Andrew McCutchen, Giancarlo Stanton, Chris Archer and Andrew Miller. Although there are other all-stars on the team, those are the names that people would consider the faces of MLB.
Even looking at the Olympic baseball rosters, although they haven’t been played since 2008, there isn’t that great of participation from the better players in the game.
With other countries, such as Cuba, the Dominican Republic or Puerto Rico, you will see their best players representing their homeland. I can’t speak for those players, but it seems like the players from countries other than the U.S. take greater pride in representing their countries.
You Google “American baseball players” and names come up of recent MLB MVPs and all-stars, yet you don’t see them associated with anything other than their MLB team. In light of the United States’ first win in all of international play, you might see a surge of more recognizable American talent.
Although you will not have any games for another three years, you will have the WBC, as well as baseball’s return to the 2020 Olympics. This will generate a lot of hype between players and more will hopefully look to join the team.
You might start to see players like Mike Trout, 2016 MLB MVP, Clayton Kershaw, three-time Cy Young award winner, Bryce Harper, 2015 NL MVP, as well as many other potential stars joining the ranks.
Although the official ratings for the WBC are not in yet, according to awfulannouncing.com the viewership skyrocketed from the 2013 WBC. The most watched game that year only drew about 883,000 viewers, which was about 40 percent lower than the USA-Japan semifinal game this year. This was in part due to the ever-changing rosters and addition of more star players.
With the rise in viewership combined with the newfound success of USA baseball, the WBC is sure to get that much more exciting. Look for the United States National team to grow in numbers and strength in the coming years leading up to international play.