COMMENTARY | Full disclosure: I'm not a big fan of the World Baseball Classic.
It's a disruption for teams attempting to prepare for the long regular season ahead and it's nothing but a blatant money grab by Major League Baseball.
But other than that, hey, it's a great event.
The New York Yankees became the first real victim of the World Baseball Classic this spring when first baseman Mark Teixeira injured his wrist while hitting off a tee with Team USA on Tuesday, March 5.
It was initially reported that Teixeira would be forced to withdraw from the WBC and might miss a week to 10 days.
But after further review, it was discovered Teixeira had injured a tendon in his right wrist and will miss eight to 10 weeks, keeping him out of the lineup until May, at the earliest.
So that means the Yankees will open the season without Teixeira, center fielder Curtis Granderson (out until May with a broken arm) and third baseman Alex Rodriguez (out until at least midseason after hip surgery).
Oh, yeah, and fourth starter Phil Hughes has been nursing a sore back for most of spring training. And general manager Brian Cashman broke his leg skydiving on Monday, March 4.
So, no, it's not been the greatest of springs for the Bronx Bombers.
ESPN Stats and Information tweeted out this gem about the plight of the Yankees to open the 2013 season:
With Mark Teixeira out 8-10 weeks, 8 of Yankees top 10 HR hitters in 2012 are either unavailable for Opening Day or on another team- ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 6, 2013
Do I blame the World Baseball Classic for all of the Yankees' problems? Of course not. They had nothing to do with Granderson's injury, Rodriguez's myriad problems or the turning of the calendar on an aging roster.
But the WBC is such a pointless exercise, a decent enough idea that is executed terribly by MLB.
Why try to cram the tournament in with spring training? Why disrupt your own franchises by having them lose players and training time to this exhibition of money grubbing?
Instead, why not play the World Baseball Classic in November? The weather is still going to be good in the places where the WBC is going to be played in March (Florida, Arizona, California) and the players--should something untoward, such as a nasty wrist injury, were to occur--would have three months or so to heal up before spring training started.
It would also mean that the national teams could be a bit less conservative with the limits imposed on pitchers in the WBC and that the players would be, after coming off completion of their regular season and playoffs, much more prepared to play than they are in early March.
I understand the financial reasons for not doing it in the fall--rather than squaring off with the giant media behemoth that is the National Football League, it's much more favorable to eke out space between college basketball, the NBA and the NHL.
And since the event is really nothing more than a shameless attempt to milk more money out of the marketplace, that really shouldn't come as a shock.
It just seems so short-sighted, is all. Having a premier player go on the shelf for 30 or so real games all for the sake of an international exhibition tournament is just bad planning, regardless of what team that player happens to suit up for (or in this case, not suit up for).
Phil Watson is a freelance journalist and commentator based in upper Michigan.
- Sports & Recreation
- World Baseball Classic
- spring training
- Major League Baseball