Leading Off: Do we care about the World Baseball Classic?

03/08/2013 12:00 AM

10/08/2014 10:41 AM

All of our baseball expert friends say the World Baseball Classic is a big deal, but we're not feeling the excitement – at least not yet.

That might change today when the United States plays Mexico in Phoenix in its first Pool D game. And there should be plenty of excitement when the 16-country tournament wraps up at AT&T Park on March 19 (maybe not so much if – and it could happen – the U.S. team has been knocked out).

But if it's such a big deal, why isn't today's game on regular TV – you know, one of the biggies like NBC or ESPN – instead of MLB, which isn't part of most basic subscription TV packages? Ditto for the championship game.

There are a few other issues we have with the WBC:

It's in the middle of spring training, when teams are preparing for the long grind ahead. Nearly a third of the Giants' roster will be gone for an extended stretch; will this hurt the champions in the early part of the season? And if you're hauling the family to Arizona for your annual vacation, you expect to see all your favorite Giants – Panda, Vogey, Romo, etc.

The format is all wrong for baseball teams, which generally play at least three-game series. Instead, in the WBC, teams start in one of four pools for round-robin play, with the top two teams in each pool advancing to a double-elimination round (A and B advance to Pool 1, C and D advance to Pool 2). The top two teams from Pool 1 and Pool 2 then play in the four-team single-elimination semifinals, with those winners playing in the one-game championship. Got that?

On March 17, when the first semifinal is played at AT&T Park, most sports fans won't even notice. Instead, they'll be talking about the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament selections – which teams caught a break, which teams got dissed – and filling out their March Madness brackets.

Like many baseball fans, we'll tune in today to see what all the excitement is about and get back to you.

What to do, watch

WBC, United States vs. Mexico, 6 p.m., MLB: Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey of the Toronto Blue Jays starts the Pool D opener for the U.S. team.

Today's poll

Are you following the World Baseball Classic?


Not until the United States starts playing

The what?

Vote above or leave your comments in the comment field; or, go to www.sacbee.com/sports

Wednesday's results

What is your favorite part of spring training?

The games: 10%

The restaurants: 3%

The atmosphere: 24%

I've never been: 63%

Total votes: 215


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