I know that there is certainly controversy surrounding the World Baseball Classic. We are just beginning spring training, and the WBC will not be complete until March 19.
As a result, many players are going to be representing their countries rather than working with their current teams. Obviously they are preparing and getting in shape wherever they are playing baseball, but there is something to be said about being in spring training with the rest of the team and developing that chemistry that is so vital for sustained success over such a long season.
At the same time, I am the guy who wrote an article a long time ago on this website advocating the return of baseball to the Olympics. I am all about international competition, and I certainly love the concept behind the WBC.
However, is there a possible downside? For instance, we all know that spring training is a pretty low-key environment. Players are given time to get back into the swing of playing baseball. Certainly, if a player is on the edge of making the roster, there is quite a bit more intensity, but, in general, winning and losing does not matter quite so much, and it is all about preparation.
The WBC actually has competitive intentions. Players are there to win just like they are during the regular season. That is where a potential problem lies.
Baseball season is incredibly long to begin with. No other sport plays anywhere near 162 game season. While baseball does become more intense near the end of the season, each player understands that a win in April is just as important as a victory in September. That means that these players need to maintain a high level of intensity for a very long period of time.
Is it possible that extending that time that players need to remain at that mentally intense level could have potentially harmful side effects? Essentially, I’m talking about mental exhaustion.
I know that near the end of the season, players get tired already. Adding another month of competitive play on top of that might lead to decreased performance at the end of the season which is ultimately not good for Major League Baseball.
Again, I love the idea of international competition, but I do recognize that there are certain problems that I just could arise based on an especially long competitive season.